Although the new continental style cafe bar is a long way from being finished I decided it was high time for a first swill at Fernandes since the Ossett takeover. Previous experience of the pub is limited to a handful of visits in the mid-nineties to sample the then new brewery's highly praised ales - though I can't remember being overly impressed at the time. Recently though - in fact since around the time the buy-out was announced - the quality of their beer has made me sit up and take notice. Admittedly not a lot of it was seen around (Greater) Kirklees until the Ossett interest was confirmed, but the likes of Wakefield Pride, Empress of India (voted best beer at last year's Rat & Ratchet festival) and Ale to the Tsar have been a revelation.
The miniature gin bar at Fernandes serving continental draught beer - a theme to be continued downstairs?... let's hope so!
As with the Rat the location of the pub is just outside the city centre effectively excluding it from those dreaded binging circuits, though still close enough to the restaurants, theatres and clubs etc. Inside very little has altered in the original bar, with the kind of decor that you would naturally associate with Ossett anyway i.e. subdued colour schemes, beer art posters and assorted memorabilia offering a very pleasant drinking environment, though with only one window the lighting does need some improvement. A note to smokers: being located on the top story of the building with just the one long stairwell and no balcony or rooftop area it could be a real headache going for a quick fag, though the exercise might be beneficial!
Regular Ratters enjoy Ossett's latest
But now to the crux.... how does the ale behave? Well the choice was more or less as expected with Ossett's own beer featuring prominently in it's various guises, and let's face it with three breweries now producing under the banner, the number of outside guests, especially at their smaller pubs, is going to drastically reduce. Thankfully there is enough variety of styles and flavours from the three (IMO) for this not to be a big concern - although the scratchers and non-Ossettiers amongst you may beg to differ! The guests today were Mauldons Mole Trap & Black Adder (stout) plus Oakham JHB, but it was the excellent Fernandes Ale to the Tsar which held my attention until home time. We were also treated to a mini-tour of the brewery and a quick look at the work in progress, followed by a courtesy chocolate liqueur dispensed from my favourite Fernandes feature, the eye-catching gin bar. Friday 5th October is the provisional date for the opening of the first floor cafe bar which I will confirm in due course. And don't forget this will be the first time the company has produced a new bar from scratch so prepare to be totally amazed!
The paucity of pictures with this post incidentally is down to the scale of refitting both inside and out at Fernandes - photos of scaffolding's not what I'm about! (External pic: beerintheevening.com)