Saturday, July 12, 2008

The White Horse at Emley

Pub number eleven in the burgeoning Ossett estate opened it’s doors to the world last night, and disguised as a local hack from the Huddersfield Daily Unexamined I managed a quick nosey and even some rather good ale (a real rarity in these parts). This is the company's first foray into rural pub ownership and represents a significant change of tack for an outfit whose reputation rests entirely on it's championing of the Real Ale Revolution in urban West Riding locations. Sensibly a couple with many years experience of running similar backwater food pubs has been found to manage The White Horse (rather than the usual promotion from within), acknowledging the fact that this will be a very different proposition not to mention gamble if handled badly.

There are few surprises decor-wise, with Ossett's trademark pseudo-rusticity dominating throughout, comprising dark-stained furnishings, exposed stonework and flagged floors. I was rather hoping that maybe a piece of local history would have featured such as a bit of the original giant TV mast that famously collapsed nearly forty years ago or at least some old newspaper accounts of how locals were skewered by six foot icicles falling from the enormous cables supporting the doomed structure - but never mind, there are some very nice prints of white horses in the theme room.

No expense is spared when it comes to the bar in an Ossett pub and the White Horse is no exception with some fine craftsmanship on show - but I must admit I didn't expect to find eight real ales on it! Granted, this is the bare minimum at the other ten pubs but out here in the sticks with little passing trade, a poor bus service and in what is destined to be a food orientated pub, it's difficult to see how so much beer will shift. Obviously I'll be doing my bit since I'm near by, but I'm just not sure how many beer drinkers will be driving out to Emley on a regular basis. Of course there may be a substantial number of neglected ale fans residing locally who are chomping at the bit in anticipation of their own beer oasis, but we're a rare breed these days so I somehow doubt it.

The entire village seemed to have turned out for the opening which was encouraging though a large percentage were hitting the Holsten Pils - now there's a name I hadn't seen, heard or even thought about since the days of those naff ads with Griff Rhys Jones - but hey, it's still with us! I guess this must be the obligatory standard Brit-brewed lager in the absence of Becks, Stella and the two C-words though I have to say it does come in a rather nice glass! Emley's other pub the Green Dragon (Tetleys) has had little or no competition of late but I would imagine will be feeling the pinch by the end of next week. The place has suffered from chronic neglect for years so I can't imagine that getting accepted, not usually an easy thing in rural communities, will pose too much of a problem for Ossett in Emley.

The key to success here will undoubtedly be the food, in particular Sunday lunches. There is a fair bit of up-market, albeit largely beerless competition where dining is concerned nearby, but if The White Horse can achieve the popularity of say the Riverhead's restaurant at Marsden (Ossett's only other gastro-pub, for want of a better description), then it really will be in a league of it's own. The attractive dining room features just seven tables and will be doing business by the end of the month.

The beer choice on this opening night was the usual mixture of Ossetts, Fullers London Pride, a mild from Fernandes, the excellent Phoenix Spotland Gold and a first outing for Riverhead's Centenary Ale, brewed to commemorate Huddersfield Town FC's 100th birthday. A very well-hopped and enjoyable 3.9% ale, this is certainly one for the tickers and, considering the great affinity between Emley FC and their big brothers down the road, should prove to be something of an ice-breaker with the villagers. Now whoever had that idea deserves to go far!


Daveyravey said...

Did you have to put that ugly blighter who was only there by chance in your first picture?

Tyson said...

Ah, Holsten Pils. I remember drinking that when it WAS brewed abroad. There use to be a Vaux pub near me that had it on draught. And I've still got two of those glasses.

Anonymous said...

Having never been to place in its former life, I wasn't sure what to expect but this is a tasteful ossettification of a pub which, as you have said, is a little unlike the rest of their is worth the trip into the wilds, but beware of the car park which is a bit cramped...that aside it is a pleasant pub in a pleasant doubt the food will be a draw but the real test will be if they can shift the 8 beers on the bar..will revisit later to see...when I visited there were mutterings from the locals about the lack of a darker beer,no doubt the range of guests will sort that out if it is a problem...a good effort, shame the guy in the picture wasn't behind the bar when I visited !!! Tim (ps the Town beer had run off as well so no ticks for me there !!)

wifiwabbit said...

it's a wonderful transformation - it is a real pleasure to now have such a nice pub in the village - we are sure it will be a great success - looking forward to the restaurant opening!

so, we now have this lovely place and the equally splendid (but very different) cinnamon lounge just a mile or so outside the village. happy days!

carl & helen (village locals - or is that yokels?!)


Anonymous said...

nine months on, the place is booming.
Steve and Stef took over the running of the pub in oct. 2008 and it has gone from strength to strength. The beer is always excellent quality, cask marque accredited.
The restaurant now serves a la carte food, created by the eccentric, but highly skilled chef Peter. The restaurant is kept in fine order by restaurant manager Stef.
All in all a fine place to spend some quality r&r , drinking fine ale, eating quality food in pleasant surroundings.
Highly reccomended.

copley lad said...

Could anyone give us an update on this pub?

From Copley Lad (now stranded 'down south')

Will said...

copley lad - Still owned by Ossett but now leased to landlord Steve Bamford. In being able to choose suppliers and making the food side of the business more affordable without compromising standards, the pub is doing much better. It has become the hub of the village in so many respects with various local clubs and organisations using it's facilities for meetings etc. Beer wise there is still a certain percentage that has to come from the four Ossett breweries but it is now Bob's White Lion that has become the session staple! Now there's a twist! Cheers.