Beer festivals in the Lancaster area are now so frequent that it is sometimes difficult to find new things to say about them. But the recent fest at Mitchell’s Water Witch was genuinely original, and clearly the result of imaginative thinking and careful planning.
What a great idea to have “Newest Northern Micro-brewers” as the theme. The result was 25 distinctive beers from 17 breweries and a tasting experience for real ale enthusiasts that was savoured and will be remembered. Importantly, all the beers sampled were in very good condition.
It’s probably true to say that most local drinkers will not have tasted the majority of these brews before, so the festival offered an opportunity for CAMRA members to try, discuss and compare these “newcomers” at one sitting — though many came back and did it all over again!
The reaction of visitors to the event was enthusiastic, with several commenting on the imaginative selection of ales and the delights of experiencing new brews. In this respect the event was a tribute not only to the expertise of northern micro-brewers but to the discernment of the pub’s management in making their selection. Top marks all round.
Mention should be made of the tasting notes and programme — an attractive, informative and colourful read — as well as the provision of 1/3 pint glasses. In her introduction to the programme, manager Jane Barnes wrote that she had listened to the feedback from previous events, something that seemed to be borne out by the consistent quality of this one.
Lunesdale CAMRA press officer, Julian Holt, said: “This splendid festival demonstrates that the Witch is not only one of Lancaster’s premium cask ale venues, but is keenly aware of the role it can play in promoting lesser known and new breweries. With this event the pub has proudly shown itself to be part of a regional real ale community. Congratulations to Jane for organising it.”
Among the ales that made a particular impact on CAMRA members were Cumbrian Legendary’s Buttermere Beauty, Fallon Brewery’s Red Merkin, Kirkby Lonsdale’s Jubilee Stout and Ruskin’s Bitter, and Lytham Brewery’s 5.6% IPA, described by one as “absolutely stunning.”
The Water Witch, which gives a 30p per pint discount to CAMRA members with a valid membership card, will have three milds available as part of the“May is Mild Month” celebrations.