Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A visit to The Huntsman, Thurlstone

Thurlstone/Millhouse Green looking towards Royd Moor
My recent Colne Valley pub trek whetted my appetite for another ale ramble.
On Sunday I thought about returning to The Sair at Linthwaite for better pictures (and more Linfit beer) but the weather forecast looked grim.
However, a Internet search suggested a bit of a break in the rain in South Yorkshire mid afternoon. 
Another click took me through to the The Hunstsman Inn's website, which has an up-to-date on-line beer list. http://www.thehuntsmanthurlstone.co.uk/
It showed me they had Dukeries Santa's Beer'd 3.9%, White Rose Lighter Shade of Ale 4.2% and Acorn 11th Noel 5.8%, plus the beers waiting to come on.
The website also told me that the Christmas beers, which turned out to be in tip top condition, were £2.50 a pint while stocks last.
The Huntsman Inn, Manchester Road, Thurlstone, near Penistone.

So with that piece of economic information in hand, the next stop was Penistone Train Station and a slow mile march up The Trans Pennine Trail to The Huntsman in the pretty moorland fringed village of Thurlstone. The pub is a roadside inn on Manchester Road. It offers the weary traveller three guest beers (largely LocAles) plus permanents Timothy Taylor's, Black Sheep and Tetley's.

Once inside I asked the barmaid if she minded me taking some pictures of the pump clips. She politely informed me I better ask the landlord, Andy Plummer, who happened to be standing right next to me at the bar.
That introduction made, I explained that I intended to profile the pub for this blog.
Andy couldn't have been more helpful. He explained how he served a lot of LocAle beers and showed me the impressive Barnsley CAMRA list of breweries within 20 miles.
A scan showed Barnsley, Huddersfield, Sheffield and, I think, Wakefield based breweries.
Andy explained he sourced the three main Barnsley breweries: Acorn of Wombwell, Geeves of Stairfoot and Two Roses of Darton.
Sadly, one name on the list was defunct, Oakwell of Barnsley Bitter fame. They ceased brewing last year. (*see footnote). I should point out that Acorn has been brewing its own Barnsley Bitter for more than a decade now, using. It's very authentic as it uses the original 1850s yeast strain.
What's on next at The Huntsman
Next, The Huntsman's landlord picked up the taunting board to give me a better look.
Here my gigs-less eyes alighted on a new Geeves beer. I thought the father and son team had offered up their own version of Barnsley Bitter. But I misread the clip,  it was actually named Barnsley Biter and featured a photo of a small dog! The Geeves website reveals: "This time we have brewed a contemporary take on a classic brown ale. In terms of style, it can be broadly placed in the 'bitter' category, but slightly more on the sweeter side with lower levels of bitterness. 
"We've used three English hops in this beer resulting in lovely hedgerow leaf flavours, a little English hop spiciness and sweet, floral berries. At only 3.7%, it makes for an ideal session bitter that will both slake a thirst and amuse the taste buds!"
Others beers in the cellar, which grabbed my attention were two from Lincoln Green, Nottingham, which were part of a barrel swap, and a couple each from the Concertina Brewery in Mexborough and Huntsman regulars Cottage
I ordered another pub favourite, White Rose, and The Dukeries, which was new to the place. I'd drunk a rare dark beer from White Rose before the Christmas, but the Lighter Shade of Pale was, as the name implies, a return to type: pale, hoppy, soon gone. In other words an ideal starter. But it was the Christmas beers which stole the show for me. The Santa's Beer'd from Worksop based Dukeries was the golden beer that you can next to the gravy boat in the picture below. 
Sam's meat and potato pie and some beery condiments
Now I realise this isn't a food blog, despite my best attempts to sneak more grub pics on this site, but the pastry on this meat and potato pie was delicious and went well with the Dukeries.
If I've started your stomach rumbling then The Huntsman does food on Sunday lunchtimes, Tuesday evenings and for special occasions like the recent Burns' Night celebrations. The food is made by Sam's Pie and Peas, of Thurlstone. And very good it is too.
Pub sport is alive and well at this Barnsley pub
Right, back to beer. Next came another Santa's Beer'd and the Acorn to finish with. I moved out of my dining spot in the main bar and went into to the games' room, which was decorated with pump clips from down the years. While playing pool, I noticed the sun had broken through, so afterwards I walked down the stairs into the pub's beer garden. Here I drank my last Christmas beer on the sun terrace in late January.
The Acorn website describes the 11th Noel as a "rich ruby coloured ale, roasted malts and American hops combine to release rich berry fruit flavours".
It was a fine end to a good session. I'll call again soon, specifically to try The Geeves Barnsley Biter and another pie!
The silver lining over Barnsley Bitter is that Stancill Brewery obtained Oakwell's brewing kit before the demolition men moved into Pontefract Road. 
Regular blog readers may recall Barnsley CAMRA's secretary's Nigel Croft's post about it in August. We also put on a footnote on stating that Stancill's plans to set up in Barnsley had hit a snag.
Well, it seems the brewery is now located in beer capital Sheffield, not far from The Gardeners Rest in Neepsend. 
The brewery posted a picture on Facebook on Saturday of its Barnsley Bitter in production. Stancill hopes to have it and a mild in bars by the first week in February.

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