WHAT a few days it has been on Knavesmire.

Once again, the York branch of the Campaign for Real Ale has excelled itself, delivering a superb York Beer and Cider Festival, with more than 450 real ales, around 100 ciders, 20 foreign beers and some excellent options on key-keg.

>>> 15 photos from the first day

The festival concludes on Saturday, when doors are open from noon to 11pm.

You may well have already found some new favourites to enjoy. But a few tips never go wrong.

So, as ever at this time of year, we asked a few of the region's brewers and landlords to identify their favourite beers (with the obvious rule that brewers can't choose their own creations!). For what it's worth, I've added a few of my own as well.

John Pybus, landlord of The Blue Bell, Fossgate

My last beer of the night was Brew York's Tonkoko, which had won beer of the festival, and that was my favourite. I also like Rudgate's Number 1, the vanilla mild. Coming towards winter, I like the darker beers and I'll look out for that.

John Lewis, co-owner and brewer at Treboom Brewery in Shipton-by-Beningbrough

My favourite was Twti Ffrwti by Bragdy Twt Lol from Wales. It was really nice and hoppy, with tropical fruity hop flavours, and it was really refreshing.

Ian Goodall, of Brass Castle Brewery in Malton

My favourite? It was Summer Citra Party by Siren Craft on the key-keg bar. It was 8% but did not taste like it. It was very easy-drinking! It didn't have the thickness of an 8% beer and I could have happily sat all night and drunk it, if it weren't 8%."

Stu Neilson, of North Riding Brewery and The North Riding Brewpub in Scarborough

My stand-out was Roosters' Baby-Faced Assassin. It was absolutely sensational. It will definitely be on my shopping list for the pub. It's a very, very well-hopped US IPA-style beer, and that's the type of beer I like."

And here are three I particularly enjoyed:

  • Waen Xmas Snowball (aged) - Waen's brewery in Powys is to cease production, although some beers will continue to be made by brewer Sue Hayward elsewhere. This may be the last from Powys you have and it's awesome - a deep, smooth chocolate, vanilla and coconut stout.
  • Sunbeam's Foggy Morning - This is a wheat beer infused with lemongrass. It was one of the first I had on Wednesday afternoon, and it was brilliantly refreshing in the heat.
  • North Riding Rum & Raisin Dark Mild - Raisins were soaked in rum for a week, then added to the beer at the last minute, with delicious results.