Summary: Beertown, Malton 2014. You must go in 2015!
Thomas Jefferson once said “All men are created equal”. With the Declaration of Independence buzzing around his mind he probably didn’t have time to consider the merits of whether all beer festivals are created equal. The truth is … some beer festivals are more equal than others. This is true of Beertown.
Last weekend the inaugural festival  exploded on to the North Yorkshire beer scene like a fireworks display finale. Home-town breweries and event organisers, Bad Seed and Brass Castle, planned to reassert Malton’s credentials as a centre for brewing after the the demise of its former breweries.   Beer-thirsty supporters came from near and far to sample this awakening and 29 beers represented a sparkling cross-sectional showcase from 21 of Britain’s finest smaller breweries. CAMRA members, beer bloggers, brewers, foodies, and locals curious to know more flocked to the Milton Rooms and ne’ery one left disappointed. Word and a good reputation travel fast.
One friend could not believe how flavoursome the beers were. Kegged bevvies were seriously good , ales with super-generous hop rates overflowed with big floral and citrus fruit flavours. World styles afforded a gear change and trips to untrodden territories, additional fruit gave some beers a surprising extra edge. Spiced, smoked, unhopped, salty, confidently experimental beers – they were all there. My mate had walked into a bold new world populated by creative brewers who took drinkers to new places and he loved it!
Needless to say, so did I. The beer list had taken shape over the preceding weeks as the blank spaces filled in with names like Siren, Brew By Numbers, Weird Beard, Burning Sky, Kernel, Tiny Rebel and Arbor. Social media rippled with excitement. We knew this festival was going to deliver high quality, edgy, extrovert bevvies that would set hearts racing and be rebellious enough to earn an ASBO. Top of the pile were:
- ’01 02′ by Brew By Numbers was a zesty orange saison which caused a veritable riot around your taste-buds. [9.5]
- audacious ‘Heretic’, from home-team Brass Castle, was firstly mildly tart, bretty  and sour before flipping over to its sweet, malty saffron-spiced side. Which other beer could transport you simultaneously to the Middle East and Belgium? 
- Siren’s ‘Liquid Mistress’ Red IPA rolled out a silky carpet of dark fruits balanced by bitterness and hop that cut through a wonderfully creamy mouth-feel. I had to forcibly stop myself ordering it repeatedly in order to try others and give them a chance. [8.5]
The food catering distinguished itself with aplomb and did more than just soak up alcohol to keep people on an even keel. The Bad Seed and Brass Castle lads set 3 local award-winning food artisans, Haxby Bakehouse, Malton Relish and Hayloft Foods, the challenge of incorporating their funky beers in the food the 3 were bringing to the festival. One delight appeared after another … ‘Bad Kitty’ vanilla porter choc cake, ‘Espresso Stout’ chilli jam sauce and beer bread. Then came moreish mushroom noddles, substantial, hearty game pie wedges, lip-smackingly piquant and light samosas, black pudding sausage rolls. Apologies while I wipe drool from my keyboard!
Beertown kept on coming at you from all angles:
- The cheerful and patient bar-staff volunteers needed eyes on all sides to serve in the central bar area. Nothing was ever too much trouble. They were stars. Thanks to them, the door staff, security and medical standby because without them events like this would not happen.
- The DJ played a blinding, back-catalogue of eclectic tunes in between the live musical acts – well done that man for ‘The Pixies’. Numerous acts entertained with an aural smorgasbord of folk, indie, country/bluegrass and brass band music.
- On Sunday afternoon, the Woodham Stone collection exhibited in the back ‘chill out’ room detailing Malton’s brewing past. An unusual twist.
- The chill out room had an … erm … eclectic decor. Surfboards, giant robots, a Chinese style folding screen, a copse-like grouping of tall TV studio lamps, strings of white lights. Where were the bean bags and joss sticks though? No matter, there was a magician instead.
There’s no doubt Beertown Malton was an outstanding success. Hopefully it will have raised bags of money for the local Ryedale Special Families charity which support families of children with disabilities and special needs. It will be back next year and bigger too.
 Approximately midway between York and Scarborough.
 Click this link to find out more about Malton’s brewing past.
 Malton has a fine reputation as a foodie town and has hosted the Malton Food Festival for 6 years. Last year the event attracted 20,000 people over 2 days. To its credit, Beertown proved the town is not a one-trick pony.
 He remembered the bad old days of the 1970s as do I. Check out these 2 articles about beers back then; part 1, part 2.
 Brettanomyces is the name of a wild yeast used to brew wild or sour beer. It imparts the final beer with a sour, dry tang you’d normally associate with a dry cider. The yeast in ‘Heretic’ was obtained from a bottle of Cantillon gueuze which explains a few things.