I finally found time this afternoon to pay a swift visit to the Cock O' The North in Hipperholme, Halifax Steam Brewery's tap. Not your average boozer this one, resembling an on-site construction company portakabin rather than somewhere to enjoy fine ale - but first impressions are often deceiving in the weird & wonderful world of micro-brewing. Indeed once inside I imagined being on board a nineteen twenties ocean liner with the dark panelling and subdued lighting complementing the somewhat art deco style - all quite surreal!
Due to it's size, an inevitable intimacy is created - aided and abetted by the hardcore of friendly regulars sat at the bar. A glass door leading through to the plant itself is a great touch, especially as how immaculate everything looked - a little like brew pubs in the States where you're never quite sure whether it's just for show or not!
Twelve beers, all home grown, grace the bar at any given time and would seem to offer something for everyone. In fact one reason for this visit was due to several recent reports of how good the ginger beer was. This particular style has always been a firm favourite so imagine how I felt finding two ginger flavoured concoctions available. The 4% Jamaican had a subtle finish of stem ginger and was balanced to perfection with just the right amount of lingering bitterness. The 5% version was really in your face and a bit over the top for my taste but I'm an enriched human being for the experience!
We were introduced to Ramsden's Lilly Fogg 4%, the good old pale refreshing staple and it didn't disappoint with it's delicious lemony zest. In fact this is the one to sustain you on a protracted session and whilst we didn't have time to sample all on offer, it get's my top vote so far. Cock o' the North at 5% was arguably the most accomplished ale, having a little something to please all comers though would probably appeal to 'traditionalists' the most. Marilyn was another pale quencher at 4% and only Toga at 4.4% was a disappointment, but by that time it really had too much to live up to!
According to chief Dave Earnshaw, Halifax Steam's watchword is flavour rather than bitter so don't expect to get your tongue skinned here - instead just sit back, enjoy the brewer's craft and forget where you really are...it's a lot easier than you might imagine!
An organised visit to sample all the stuff we missed is now in the pipeline and with it some more pictures and notes hopefully.