As all beer enthusiasts will be aware, September is the publication month of the beer drinker's bible, 'The Good Beer Guide'. The 2011 version has just come out and, as the resurgence of real ale continues to gain momentum at a bewildering rate, has to be the most essential purchase of the year.
Obviously the first thing to do is to check if your favourite pub has made it through, and I am pleased to say that there are hardly any changes in our area from last year. We have lost Marsh Liberal Club in favour of The Sportsman, but otherwise the status quo has been maintained. There are seven entries that cover Huddersfield itself plus others that include places up the Holme and Colne Valleys. The Commercial at Slaithwaite makes a welcome appearance, rubbing shoulders with its sister pub The Swan, to illustrate just how much Jonny Holmes has done to bring real ale back to this corner of Yorkshire.
The real treat comes when you check the number of breweries in the county. We now have 35 (if my maths are correct) with three new additions this year - and none falling by the wayside according to the guide (and although I beg to differ - I'm not going to argue with the guide editor about it!). It just shows what an up and coming area we live in for real ale, and what a choice we have. Obviously some beer is more accessible than others. How many people have drunk a beer from BareArts in Todmorden for example? But that is being picky - West Yorkshire brewing is certainly on the up and we should celebrate that fact.
The guide is set out in it's usual format with pubs listed by counties and brewers in alphabetical order. There's also a handy index to sort out those problems that some of us, with less than perfect handwriting, have when trying to match up beer names with breweries! All in all this is a worthy addition to anyone's bookshelf and is a useful tool when you end up stranded in a strange town looking for a decent pint. More than once it has come to my rescue, and I have no doubt that the new guide will serve me equally well as it's predecessors - so lets all grab a copy and head out to see what we can find. Cheers! (Order here)