A novel creation from Cumbrian brewers Kirkby Lonsdale has been voted Beer of the Festival by drinkers at the Lunesdale Dark & Winter Ales Festival organised by the local branch of The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). The Dark Arts, a 4.7% ale, uses ingredients more often associated with lager to create a taste that proved a winner against stiff competition from scores of other brews.
An award celebration took place at the Water Witch in Lancaster at a special event to mark the close of the two-week festival that ran in 27 pubs in the Lunesdale area, which extends from North Yorkshire to Garstang, near Preston, Lancashire. Bank Top, Cross Bay, Lancaster, Kirkby Lonsdale and York breweries all brewed beers specially for the festival.
The Dark Arts was conjured by Head Brewer Stuart Taylor, who wanted to produce something different from the usual milds, porters and stouts found at festivals. The award-winning beer is brewed with lager malt, dark malt and three hops — Hersbrucker from Germany, Celeia from Slovenia, and the hedge hop Boadicea — and is fermented with an ale yeast.
Commented Stuart, “Everyone at the brewery is absolutely delighted to have won this award. Quite honestly I was a bit nervous two weeks ago at the launch wondering how the beer would be received. It was a departure from the norm, and I suppose that’s part of its appeal.”
The winning beer, described as “refreshingly dark and tasty, with a smooth hop finish”, was produced for the festival, but is now being brewed again. Two other Kirkby Lonsdale dark beers proved very popular with festival drinkers, the 5.5% Jubilee Stout and Westmorland Dark Ale (6.2%). Also scoring well were Naylor’s Pinnacle Porter, Orkney Dark Island, Marble Chocolate Stout, Dark Knight from York, Port 0’ Call from Bank Top and Rudgate Ruby Mild.
Festival organiser Julian Holt said, “At least 120 dark and winter beers were available during the fortnight and were enthusiastically received — proof that these styles can be popular if people are given the opportunity to try them. Thanks go to the managers and staff of the 27 pubs involved for the boldness and imagination of their beer selections, and to the brewers for producing these magnificent beers.&rdquo