In these cash-strapped times it's fantastic to see a Good Beer Guide pub knocking out quality ale at £2 a pint. And we're not talking about a town centre JD Wetherspoons here but a well respected food-orientated country inn with possibly the friendliest atmosphere in the district.
I really wanted to write up the Tunnel End Inn at Marsden using plenty of lavish photos and succulent prose but was totally unprepared for it's Sunday lunchtime popularity. With every table reserved it was perch at the bar time and little chance of doing it pictorial justice - but refreshingly, whilst everyone else was spending ten times what we were, our treatment was no less courteous - and that is the mark of a truely great hostelry.
Anyhow quickly back to the cheap beer and with guests from the mighty Saltaire and under-rated Springhead (both at the permanently low guest ale price) there was no problem in being distracted from the wonderful food aromas. Cascade is everyone's favourite new world hop since the Knaresborough based Roosters Brewery brought it shamelessly into the limelight some fifteen years ago, and virtually everyone whose had a bash at creating ale with it has produced a winner. Saltaire's 4.8% version perhaps lacks a little of the 'in your face' character delivered by Franklin but nevertheless it's a super beer with plenty of body and throat-charming hop bite. The Springhead Bitter is a down to earth session ale and whilst it couldn't compete with the Bradford outfit's big bodied creation it was nevertheless a refreshing, honest, well kept and terrific value for money pint.
There will be a more in depth review of this gem of a free house in a future issue but in the meantime if you've been neglecting this end of the Colne Valley or are just a little nervous about being so close to the Lancashire border then it's time to set aside your phobias and treat your loved ones to a quality hour or two in the Tunnel End. (map)