Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YORK to 80360 or send an email»
Festival of flavours
GAVIN AITCHISON finds York has lots to celebrate this summer.
HASN’T York been a cheerful place this past week? The sun is shining, there are two Bank Holidays looming, the Mayor-making ceremony has well and truly launched the York800 festivities – and, best of all, York City are back in the Football League. Forget the Olympics and the Jubilee for now – the Minstermen have already ensured that 2012 will be a year to remember for all the right reasons.
Pleasingly for us beer lovers, the celebratory mood seems to have spread to the bars. This week’s soiree takes in two commemorative beers from two excellent breweries, both of which happen to have special events going on today.
First up is the football fans’ special, C’mon City by Yorkshire Heart brewery at Nun Monkton. This beer was brewed ahead of York’s Wembley double-header against Newport and Luton, but has been available since as well.
It was on the bar at The Swan in Bishopgate Street when I swung by on Wednesday night, three days after the promotion-clinching win and two days on from the jubilant victory parade through town.
Choosing a beer at The Swan is usually delightfully difficult, but I didn’t even look at the alternatives once I’d spotted this one. It felt only right to raise a glass to City, and I’m glad I did.
The beer was light and crisp, with a strong biscuit base, and was brilliantly refreshing after a sweltering day in the office.
That and other ales from Yorkshire Heart should be available today, when the brewery and its neighbouring vineyard host a spring extravaganza. There’s a mini beer festival, a tug-of war and then a ceilidh from 7pm for £15, all taking place in Pool Lane in Nun Monkton.
From The Swan, it was a short stroll up Nunnery Lane to The Punch Bowl, which has been hosting a mini beer festival all week, showcasing six beers from Moorhouse’s of Lancashire. It has been on since last Sunday and included a "meet the brewer" talk yesterday, but it continues until tomorrow so there is still time to pop in.
Blond Witch, a tremendous summer ale, had just gone off when I arrived, so I opted instead for the pub’s house beer, 1212. This has been produced to commemorate the York800 celebrations, marking the 800th anniversary of York becoming a self-governing city with a Lord Mayor and other such frills.
It seems a tad incongruous that a Lancashire brewery has been the one to brew such a proudly Yorkshire beer, particularly given what went on between the counties in the early part of those 800 years. But then who am I, a Scot, to intervene in all of that?
We’re all friends these days anyway, and most importantly: the beer is brilliant. It’s an amber ale with an enjoyable fruity flavour and a healthy but not overpowering dose of hops, and it was a delicious accompaniment as friends and I enjoyed some outdoor grub for one of the first times this year. If you do make it along today or tomorrow, the festival flyer includes an offer of 50p off a pint for Camra members, and discounts on food.
If the Moorhouse’s doesn’t appeal, and you want something from God’s own county, you can head to the Maltings in Tanner’s Moat, which is selling bottles of a specially-commissioned beer from Brass Castle in Pocklington. It’s a stunning imperial Russian Stout, but be warned – it’s eight per cent, so not to be taken lightly.
• The Gillygate in York city centre has a mini beer festival this weekend; while both The Deramore Arms in Heslington and the Collingham and Linton Sports Association Club have Jubilee festivals from June 2 to 5.
• The new extension Sun Inn in Pickering opens at noon on Sunday, June 3, and local band Rockin’ Horse will be performing from 4pm to 7pm.
Follow Gav on twitter @pintsofview