Saturday 21st March 2015: Beertown Malton

March 25, 2015

If you know me, then you know that I love beer. It hasn't always been this way, though - I used to not stand the stuff, and only be able to stomach it with added lime cordial. That's because I was drinking the tepid lagers such as Carling and Fosters, which, to be fair to my past self, are pretty horrible. Once Martin started getting me into "proper beer", I've never looked back since. There are so many different ones to try - literally thousands - each with their own unique characteristics, such as flavour, intensity and production methods used. Having been to a beer festival in the past and thoroughly enjoying it, when the opportunity to come along to Beertown in Malton I couldn't really pass it up! So, on Saturday morning, we hopped on a train and a day of drinking began...

The New Malton, Malton, North Yorkshire
Toad in the Hole at The New Malton, Malton, North Yorkshire

Once we had arrived in Malton, we were in dire need of a decent meal before spending the afternoon and evening drinking. Trust me when I say that drinking heavily on an empty stomach will end in tears! We wanted a pub lunch, and after discovering that pretty much all the pubs in Malton were closed on a Saturday afternoon(?), we came across The New Malton - which turned out to be seconds walk away from where the beer festival was being held. Perfect! After much deliberation over the menu - the selection of food was excellent - I went for the Toad in the Hole, made with pork & herb sausages, onion gravy and of course, an oversized Yorkshire pudding. It also came served with roast potatoes and red cabbage, which you can't see in the picture as they were hidden underneath! I wanted a hearty, filling meal to see me through the afternoon, and that's exactly what I got. I can't pick out any negatives about this meal at all - the sausages were cooked well and had just the right intensity of flavour, the Yorkshire pudding was soft and fluffy, and I even enjoyed the onion gravy (unusual for me, as I can't stand onions normally). To wash it all down, I had a pint of Hambleton Ales Stud; a hoppy beer with a floral aftertaste. In hindsight, it didn't actually go that well with the food!

Beertown Malton March 2015 at Milton Rooms
Beertown Malton March 2015 at Milton Rooms
Beertown Malton March 2015 at Milton Rooms
Beer selection Beertown Malton March 2015 at Milton Rooms

Beertown was hosted, like it is every year, in the Milton Rooms at Malton, taking pride of place in the Market Square. Bringing together two extremely local breweries, Bad Seed and Brass Castle (both are based in Malton), there was somewhere in the region of forty different beers to try - not only from those two breweries, but countless others as well. Despite being dedicated beer drinkers and having tried many of Bad Seed and Brass Castle's beers between us, there was still plenty of new beers for me and Martin to try. The venue was actually quite a bit smaller than I had anticipated, but as the evening wore on it actually seemed to be just about the right size in the end. Big enough to allow a good atmosphere, and I didn't have to wait long at the bar to get a drink each time. My only criticism is that there was very little seating - only on the stage area, all of which had been claimed by the time we arrived. Nevertheless, we situated ourselves around a barrel and madedo..

Liverpool Craft American Red Beertown Malton March 2015 at Milton Rooms
Wharfe Bank The Grunge Coffee IPA Beertown Malton March 2015 at Milton Rooms
Faith Northern Monk Beertown Malton March 2015 at Milton Rooms
Heretic Brass Castle Beertown Malton March 2015 at Milton Rooms

I was expecting the beers that were available to all be from local breweries - and when I say local, I mean Yorkshire. Whilst there was obviously the two main stars from Malton itself, there was also a handful of other Yorkshire breweries to be found, such as Wharfe Bank from Otley, and Northern Monk from Leeds. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find beers from breweries all around the country, such as the Liverpool Craft Beer Company and Beavertown from London. Some names were familar, some weren't but overall there was a good selection of different styles, strengths and flavours of beer - which is what a good beer festival is all about. The ABV's started from 2.8% and went all the way up to 7.4%; however, that strongest beer, Magic Rock's Cannonball, had already sold out by the time we had arrived. We had got there only forty minutes after it started! It's not surprising though, as everywhere we go that beer is sold out. We have tried it before and loved it, but it was a shame that we couldn't try it again. Not to worry, though, as there was others to try!

Black Forest Brass Castle Beertown Malton March 2015 at Milton Rooms
Beertown Malton March 2015 at Milton Rooms
Beertown Malton March 2015 at Milton RoomsBeertown Malton March 2015 at Milton Rooms

This was a ticketed event, with each ticket costing £5 which included the £2 deposit needed for a beer glass. These were actually plastic - probably for the best, really - and were marked with third, half and full pint measures and these different measurements were available for any beer. As there was so many beers to choose from, it was difficult to know where to start! I knew I wanted to start off with a beer that I had not had before, so when I spotted the Black Forest by Brass Castle, I made that my first pint! Clocking in at 6%, this was a pretty heavy cherry stout that I thought was the best to "get out of the way". It was so dark that you couldn't see any light through it at all when it was held up, and it had a luxurious thick and creamy texture. The cherry note was definitely present but not particularly strong; seeing as the essence of black forest is cherry and dark chocolate, I would say that they captured this in beer form pretty well. I have to admit, I did struggle to finish the pint, so I stuck to thirds and halves for every beer after that. As you can see, however, the bar staff's measurements were very generous indeed - I think that I must have consumed an extra pint through this alone! As the afternoon wore on, we came across a wizard (I don't know why he was dressed as such), and I made friends with an adorable, seven month old Italian Greyhound called Pixie. She bounded onto my lap and covered me in kisses!

Scotch Egg Malton Relish Beertown Malton March 2015 at Milton Rooms
Pie Malton Relish Beertown Malton March 2015 at Milton Rooms

Seeing as we had eaten quite a large meal before entering the festival, we didn't think that we'd want much to eat until much later on. That's until people started walking around offering pork pies and we had consumed several beers! We went to go investigate the "kitchen", which had three companies offering food; Malton Relish, The Queens Head Cantonese and The Haxby Bakehouse. The selection was actually surprisingly varied considering the small number of stalls - cheese toasties, pies, pasties, spring rolls, skewers... it was pretty difficult to decide what to pick, let me tell you. In all honesty, I can't remember exactly what I ate throughout the festival, but the stand outs for me were the chicken, bacon & mushroom pie and a scotch egg from Malton Relish. Martin had a cheese toastie from The Haxby Bakehouse and some spring rolls from The Queens Head Cantonese, which I pinched a bit of. Everything I tried was absolutely delicious, and excellent choices for enjoying with a beer in hand. The pie I actually intended to eat on the train on the way home, but when it was cancelled and we had to wait an hour for the next one, down the hatch it went! Let's just say that we were more than a bit tipsy by the time we made it home... a sign of a great day out and I would love to go again next year!

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  1. This looks like a great day, good beer seems tremendously underrated in a lot of circles! :)