Saturday, February 27, 2010

Local Festival Dates

With thanks to Dave Litton, the man from Hull we are able to publish a list of forthcoming local festivals.

The Star Spring Festival.
Wed 24th, Thurs 25th March 2010, 5pm till 11pm
Fri 26th - Sun 28th 12noon till 11pm

The Nook, Holmfirth
Thurs 25th March 2010- Sunday 28th March 2010

The Swan, Crimble
Thurs 6th May 2010 5pm- 11pm
Fri 7th - Sun 9th may 12noon till close

Rose & Crown, Thurstonland
Fri 23rd July 2010 - Sun 25th July 2010

Rat & Ratchet Mild, Cider & Perry Festival
Sat 1st May 2010 - Sun 2nd May 2010

Sun Inn, Flockton
'Flockstock', a beer and music festival, 28th May 2010 - 31st May 2010

At least we know when to plan our holidays now !!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

No2 - Riverhead Brewery

Riverhead brewery opened in 1995 in the centre of the village of Marsden, in a converted shop. Its beers were brewed on the premises and available on the bar in the pub upstairs, and soon became a must visit place for the itinerant beer drinker.

Its basic beers were initially named after local reservoirs, and the higher the gravity, the higher above sea level was the reservoir, hence 'Butterley Bitter', 'Cupwith Special' and their 'March Haigh'.

The pub and brewery were taken over by Ossett in 2006, and they have retained it as a going concern. The beer range is as before but there are several new and occasional brews that are brewed on site by a new brewster, and after initial quality problems they have settled down.

The basic beers are usually available at the brewery tap but others, particularly the specials make they way into the Ossett pub estate and often into the free trade. Recently they have brewed 'Sherbet Lemon' which packed a lovely lemony hit in a light beer, along with more traditional type beers such as 'Standedge Adrmiral'.

The original range included a porter, 'Deer Hill' and 'Black Moss', a stout, which at 4.3% could hold its own with any stout brewed. These are now only brewed occasionally and are not easy to find, but well worth the effort. The porter is actually due on the bar at the Sportsman soon should you wish to sample it.

If you are up the Colne Valley and have a hour spare, then a trip to the Riverhead will surely not disappoint.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

No1 - Ossett Brewery

This is the first in an occasional series on West Yorkshire breweries which hopes to showcase the variety of beers available in the area and the variety of breweries brewing them, from the large to the small and hopefully give clues on where to find the beers.

I have chosen to start with Ossett Brewery, which has risen from its small beginnings in 1998 to become one of the largest breweries in the region.

No only does Ossett brew beers but it owns 14 of its own pubs, and controls 2 more of the local breweries in Riverhead and Fernandes.

Many of its beers are light and hoppy, of various strengths, and most are not hard to find for the enthusiastic drinker. In Huddersfield, there are generally 4 on the bar at The Rat & Ratchet, (Pale Gold, Silver King, and Excelsior are regulars, plus one seasonal or special). In Halifax, the core range appears at the Three Pigeons; in Dewsbury, the Shepherds Boy also provides a basic range, and there are 3 of their own pubs in Ossett providing their beers. They also travel far and wide in the free trade, either through direct deliveries or brewery swaps so they are not uncommon throughout the country.

Their forte does seem to be the lighter hoppy beers but they can also turn their hand to making darker brews, and their 'Treacle Stout' is much sought after. It even appeared in bottles at Christmas for the fireside drinker. Other specials, have included 'Ossett Light Ale' which for a 3.6% beer is full of flavour, and very moreish, and their 'Real Ale Revolution' series, which includes their 'IPA' are also very good but a little stronger.

If you are a lover of this style of beers then Ossett could be well worth searching out.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dewsbury Beer Festival

Dewsbury's biggest beer festival for 35 years is scheduled to take place in the Town Hall this spring and a dedicated web-site has just been set up to promote it.
Keep up to date with what's happening here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mallinsons Take On A Local Theme

This week, if you are out and about in the pubs of Huddersfield, chances are you may stumble over one of the three new Mallinsons beers that have been named after local celebreties.

I know that they have previously brewed 'Harold', after the prime minister who was born here, 'Dennis',after the menace,and several named after local landmarks but all of a sudden we have a collection of beers that all have a Huddersfield connection.

'Charlie's Half' has been brewed to celebrate the life of Dave Charlesworth, local Camra member and well known member of the Huddersfield drinking fraternity who passed away recently. A good light hoppy beer, which must, as was Charlie's wont, be drunk in halves.

'Shiver Me Terrier' has a picture of Mitch, (Keith and Tricia's Yorkie, that reached its 13th birthday on Saturday) on the pump clip. Mitch is tastefully adorned in a variation of Towns home shirt out in the freezing cold near his home. His little legs must be frozen!!!

Finally, 'Jane Won't Like It' is a reference to Jane, well known behind the bar at the Star,and the look on her face when she comes across a well hopped beer. So we know what to expect from this one judging by her look on the pump clip.

Along with these, we have a couple more of the river series, 'Onyx' and 'Volga' so the local lovers of Mallinsons beers should be well suited for the next few days.

Friday, February 12, 2010

St Patrick's Day at The Head of Steam

Press release - Irish cheer in The Head Of Steam Ltd pubs for St Patrick's Day

The Head Of Steam Ltd will be importing real ales from the Irish Republic again for most of its pubs for St. Patricks Day (March 17th), as customers go crazy if they can't get a drop of the green stuff that day.

Beers will come from the new White Gypsy brewery of Templemore, Co. Tipperary;
Franciscan Well, Cork; and Messrs Maguire, Dublin. If you've not tried it, you really should fight your way to a pint of White Gypsy Emerald IPA - it is one of the most stunning beers we've tasted.

Cuilan Laughnane of White Gypsy brewery - "It's great to be able to send our fine beers to England to give real ale enthusiasts something really special. Battling with the import/export system isn't easy, but The Head Of Steam Ltd manage to get throught the paperwork". Cuilan used to be brewer at the now-closed Dwan brewery in Thurles, Co. Tipperary and he also brewed for Messrs Maguire in Dublin.

The Beers:
Messrs Maguire - Rusty Ale (4.6%) & Haus Lager (4.0%)
Franciscan Well - Friar Weisse (4.7%) & Shandon Stout (4.3%)
White Gypsy - Emerald IPA (5.0%) & Bruinette Lager (4.5%)

Tony Brookes
The Head Of Steam Ltd

Thursday, February 11, 2010

2nd Shepherds Boy Festival (10th-14th Feb)

Shepherds Boy landlord Rob Allen (below) has assembled a good mixture of beers for his first festival in charge with everything from rich, dark stouts to crisp cask pilsners. To make things simple, all the dark beers are on the main bar whilst the pale stuff can be found on the temporary festival bar in the back room.

Although scheduled to go five days (food available throughout) we would imagine favourites such as Marble & Mallinsons are unlikely to make it to the weekend - but we understand there are a few stand-by casks in the cellar.

The Shepherds Boy, 157 Huddersfield Road, Dewsbury, WF13 2RP (map)

The White Cross at Bradley is also having its 7th festival this weekend, conveniently on the same bus route between Huddersfield and Dewsbury.

Its beer list comprises -
Sarah Hughes - Dark Ruby Mild Rhymney - Hobby Horse
Nelson - Cat o'nine Tails Naylors - Pinnacle Mild
White Horse - Giant Idle - not known
Wells & Young - Bitter Black Dog - Rhatas
Rudgate - Battleaxe Copper Dragon - Best
Kelham Island - Pale Rider Moorhouses - Blonde Witch
Strathavon - Old Mortality Ayre - Leezie Lundie
Cairngorm - Stag

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Commercial, Slaithwaite

An introduction to this award-winning Colne Valley pub featured here last year but I never found time to get any pictures done back then. If anything the place has improved even further since those very early days - as has my ability to get out of bed on a Sunday!

A good range of beer at unbeatable value in a comfy, stylish environment - and just one stop down the track. Higher praise I cannot heap!

A message from Sam at the Star

As you may be aware the Star at Folly Hall was the subject of a robbery the Monday before last when Sam was away - fortunately no one was seriously injured. On her return Sam has spoken to the police and they request that no information regarding the incident should be divulged. Sam is asking that questions regarding the robbery are not asked of her or the staff because of the police request and the fact that it is distressing her and the staff.

She appreciates that people are asking because they care, but asks that people respect the police request. Business continues as usual at the pub and Sam thanks everyone for their concern and support at this difficult time.

The next Star Beer Festival has been arranged to commence on Wednesday 24th March 2010.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Bruges and beer, a personal view

This year, for something different, Mrs Timbo and I decided that part of our Xmas present to each other should be a short break away, and where better to visit than the old historic Belgian city of Bruges. This is what we found.

After an early morning start to London, and a swift half at the 'Sir John Betjeman' at St Pancras station, we loaded ourselves on to the Eurostar for the journey to Brussels. Out of the train window it was obvious to see that France had suffered snow like us in the past few weeks and evidence of it was still around in the fields at the track side. We seemed to be in Belgium fairly quickly and found our connection to Bruges. Here, at the station I encountered the first problem of our journey. I do not speak Flemish, or Walloon, or whatever language the station announcer was using so we had to rely on the signs to navigate to the platform. Again, they were in a foreign language that I did not understand, but with a bit of working out we managed to safely board the train and in no time were in Bruges.

A quick taxi to the hotel, and checking in and then out to sample what the city had to offer. It was mid afternoon, cold but pleasant, and with a map and directions supplied by the desk clerk at the hotel, we set off in the right direction.

A word of warning to visitors new to the city, especially if you are intending to visit the local bars. It is best to go prepared with information, as some close on different days, and it saves a long walk to some only to find they are closed. We navigated from Camra's 'Belgian Beer Guide' (an essential, for as well as the bars it gives beer listings as well with tasting notes) and 'Around Belgium in 80 Beers' (which lists many smaller bars not listed in the beer guide).

As luck would have it, our first port of call, opened on Monday at 4pm, and around that time we managed to find 'Brugs Beertje', one of the must visit bars in the city.
We were not disappointed. My first beer choice here was the draught 'Bruges Zot' whilst Mrs T started on the fruit beers. We were both impressed, both by the beer and the knowledgeable bar staff who did speak English and pointed us in the direction of the right beers to try. All the beer we tried on the trip were around 3 euros, but we did not go looking for the specials which were more expensive.

It took a bit of getting used to being served at the table instead of tripping off to the bar but once we had the system sorted it came as second nature, but I still amazed that the staff do not get the orders confused.

After a sampling session here we decided that food was next on the agenda and off we went. (Belgian bars do serve basic food, and some do a full menu but we thought we would combine more sightseeing with more bars as well).

At it happens we managed to get lost but on our way back to the hotel managed a couple of smaller bars and eventually made it back to finish off with a nightcap at the hotel, whose prices were about 25% more expensive than the bars incidentally.

Tuesday dawned, and the plan we had was thrown into confusion by the steady rain and biting wind, so the morning was spent sightseeing, with a drying out period at lunchtime before we hit some more bars.

First on the list this time was the unmissable 'Garre', not easy to find but worth the effort and close to the main city square. Here I started with De Ranke 'xx Bitter' which was superb, and we continued to sample several beers from their considerable list, until we decided that there may be others bars to look at. The guide suggested 'Cambrinus', a large bar on the city square, easy to find with a decent beer range, and we followed up with another visit to the 'Beertje'.

Wednesday was another morning of sightseeing, but dry this time,and followed with a trip to 'Garre' and a wander round the streets we had previously managed to miss before turning up at 5pm at 'Portersgat'. This is another bar easy to miss, being hidden away under a church crypt but well worth hunting out with a great beer list, and a unique atmosphere. Again, the bar staff pointed us in the right direction for the beers we wanted.

The trip was meant to finish with a visit to 'Kelk', (beer guide listed) but this was closed for refurbishment so we tried 'Bacchus' further down the road. This is a bar which seems to cater for a younger crowd, with pop rather than classical music, and seemed more lively than other places we had visited.

Too soon it was time to leave, and Thursday saw us back on the train to Blighty.

All in all, a wonderful city, easy to see on foot, but do take decent walking shoes, everywhere is cobbled. It helps to have a sixth sense for cyclists too, who appear from all sorts of unexpected directions. A map is helpful till you work out a decent route between bars, and as I mentioned, the beer guides are invaluable to locate bars and select beers you are unfamiliar with. It was strange to see smoking allowed in some bars as well, and you learn to appreciate how much different the smoking ban has made pubs at home.

My favourite bars and beers have already been mentioned, but we sampled beers of all styles, both draught and bottled, and was impressed by, although did not like, all I drank. Likewise with the bars. All that remains now is to work out when to return !!