There was a time not so long ago when Barnsley-based real ale drinkers faced a tough choice in their quest for new beers: turn right for Sheffield or left for Huddersfield. But a new book reveals that the ‘ Tarn ’ has gone from being a bit of a beer desert to a budding oasis in next to no time.
Local CAMRA enthusiasts have produced “The Barnsley Real Ale and Cider Guide” – a route map to over 100 pubs and clubs. It costs £3 and is a steal. As veteran Barnsley Chronicle journalist Ian Harley says in the foreword: “Commendably it’s also available for little more than the price of a pint.”
An early chapter looks at the fluctuating fortunes of Barnsley Bitter, which dates back to 1858. But by all accounts the revered beer declined in the late 1950s following a takeover. Brewing ceased in 1976 but Oakwell Brewery brought it back 20 years later. Then Acorn Brewery arrived in 2003 and made their version from the original recipe and yeast strain.
The guide’s other chapters look at the availability of cider in the town, a lost pub, an argument about the meaning of your ‘local’ and a curious piece about black pudding! Then we get into the meat of the book – the pubs. Good mapping shows where you can get a can and can’t find real ale in Barnsley, and where the breweries are sited.
The town centre section shows that a real ale trail is emerging, with more and more pubs taking craft beer. There are also established real ale houses like the Keel Inn, Canal Street, off Old Mill Lane (turn right out of the bus station). It's walls are adorned with Barnsley Bitter memorabilia. There is also award-winning Old No7 on Market Hill (turn left) where you buy a copy of the new guide and plan your itinerary for Barnsley ’s burgeoning real ale circuit.
The £3 guide is also available at Geeves Brewery’s tap, The Anglers Rest, Park Street , Wombwell, at other pubs and on Barnsley ’s indoor market.
Book cover image courtesy of its editor Nigel Croft, of Barnsley CAMRA,