It was fine, I charged at work (with permission) on the Friday and then reasoned that I could charge at the other end. The journey was thus begun on Saturday morning, bright and early, but on the way my car told me I had a puncture. I pulled in, charged and checked the wheel. No sign of any damage. I pumped the tyre a bit, more because I felt I had to do something, and drove on. The light remained resolutely on. I stopped and checked pressures a few more times but no difference. Thus it was that I turned up to Leeds just in time to drop the car off outside my host's house, scaring him with its sleek silence, and jump onto the bus into town. Stressful journey much?
All of which is to serve as prelude. We met our final member of the trio and promptly entered the wonderful world of the Town Hall and the beers on offer. Would you like to know more?
First up was deciding what we would have and the delights on offer were numerous and plenty. It was busy, it was warm, food was cooking merrily and it was around midday. It was quite a tough moment to decide what to drink first, where to start and what was on offer. However, we spotted the Kernel Brewery bar and headed over to it.
I chose the Biere de Saison at 4.8% ABV - a saison, funnily enough, with a nice apple juice hue.
We travelled downstairs to the strange faux-forest of the European ales section of the event, all with oddly muted coloured lighting and strange shadows. It was less busy here and there were loads of Belgian ales on offer. At first I was going to dive into them like a kid in a sweet shop but then I spotted my quarry: Mikkeller! A brewer often mentioned by people I respect, surely one to try!
Naturally, I picked Lazurite: an IPA at 7.4% ABV brewed by Warpigs! Because I didn't notice that the breweries were sharing a bar.
This came by heading back up the stairs to the American brewers room. Lovely bar here, plenty of video games (of which I did not partake) and I noticed something that made me quite excited!
Here it was time for a Founders Imperial Stout at a mighty 10.5% ABV.
We'd noticed a vast tipi on the way in and it had a big queue. As we emerged from the US beer room and back into the light that queue had died down, we decided to check it out before heading back into the main room.
My host pointed out a chilli infused ale, it would have been rude not to try it. Siren Craft Brew offered us Five Alarm, a red chilli ale at 7.4% ABV (from a keg) and we took it.
However, it was now lunch time and so time to choose something to have with whatever we chose to eat, still unclear at this stage. I was close enough to the Brewdog bar to decide on them, though my colleagues went for Pressure Drop.
At the recommendation of my host I went for Brewdog's Ace of Citra, an IPA at 4.5% ABV, seemed like the right sort of strength and hue for a burger.
We headed to try the New Zealand ales on offer because the sunlight was really rather lovely and it seemed a shame to head back inside without enjoying it a while. A bit of a queue had developed here, probably a good sign, but it moved quickly enough and we got what we wanted and then congregated looking out over the Headrow.
This was one of the ones I didn't record the name of, but it would appear to have been West Coast Red IPA by Three Boys Brewery at 6% ABV, being a red IPA, funnily enough!
I'd spotted my quarry on the way in and tried to convince my fellows to try something, but then abandoned the attempt to just dive into the Dirty Stop Out from Tiny Rebel that I've been after for so long. A smoked oat stout at 5% ABV and, again, from a keg.
Time was running out now, so it was a dash to Wylam to get a third of Club of Slaughters Imperial Stout at 8.8% ABV.
The final trial of the day, before we were politely but firmly told to leave, was Alechemy Brewing's Bring Out The Imp, an Imperial Stout at 10.5% ABV.
From there it was time to leave and I met an old friend from Leeds and had a brief catch up before we went off toward the curry house that has become something of a tradition between us, marking the old haunting ground of where we used to go out as a Department back in the day. On the way I was somewhat harangued by a former student who refused to give their name but claimed I was the bane of their life, but in a positive way? I looked them up at home and realised I'd taught them for less than half a year so I really must have made an impression - not sure if that's an entirely good thing. No matter. The curry was good but need not detain us here, because after that we passed the oddly new looking carpark where the police station had been and hit the Shuffleboards, the newest of the two Brewdog pubs in Leeds.
It was pretty busy, given that there was a fully functioning ale festival just down the road, and had plenty of choice. I decided to go for a DIPA by the name of Hardcore DIPA at 9.2% ABV, even managing to get it in as a third so as not to break my routine.
Of course I refer to Whitelock's where I was pleased to find Hophead by Dark Star Brewing Co. weighing in at a rather light 3.8% ABV.
This was taken at Tappd, a pub we had visited the last time I was up in Leeds, and I plumbed for a Chocolate Coffee Porter whose name and brewer I sadly left unrecorded, it was about that time of the evening and I was now well aware of the fact I'd put away 11 thirds (and some of those were quite generous).
Thus it was that we departed, caught a bus and then plugged in the car to charge before checking the puncture warning (still on) and then going to bed. I should point out that the morning brought no puncture warning (and it's not been on since) and the car charging was just fine to get me home without any trouble. I can also heartily recommend the Meadowhall charging station as a place to meet and chat with decent and friendly people.
Best ale of the day, for me, was probably the Founders Imperial Stout, in case it wasn't obvious, because it was just so delectable and full of adventure and taste. You could slice it and have it as pudding and I like that quality in a stout. Second was Wylam with their Club of Slaughters, another imperial stout, that was so soft and smooth that I could have curled up and fallen asleep in it. Both being very much dessert ales or the sort of ale one has to savour without having more than a single pint at the end of a week. Third place goes to Five Alarm from Siren because it was so mad as a concept and they pulled it off. I would definitely have and enjoy that one again!
My thanks, of course, to my excellent colleagues, without whom I would not have had the chance to tank up on stouts, and with hope that this time I can tempt them down to my end to sample some of the pubs and ales that one can find in Derbyshire!