Friday, February 26, 2016

The Market Tavern, Brighouse

As I mentioned in my previous post, this week saw the opening of  new pub in Brighouse, when on Wednesday, The Market Tavern opened its doors for the first time.

It is conveniently sited in the centre of the town, just off Bethel St, on the corner of Ship St (overlooking the canal), and is more of a micro pub. It is a conversion of a former shop and is the first venture into the pub business for 'Snap' and his wife. And a pretty good job they have made of it so far.

The pub is one room and is light and airy. Seating is around the outside wall but that leaves plenty of available space in the middle of the room for standing drinkers. And as it is a new conversion it smells fresh and clean.

Beer wise there are six handpulls on offer, with a selection yesterday sourced from Salopian, Abbeydale, Great Heck, and Small World - covering most styles and reasonable priced. The couple  I tried were both in good condition and well presented. There is Warsteiner lager and Kingstone Press cider on draught as well, and a couple of still ciders as well.

'Snap' promises a fine selection of breweries to come, in fact three beers had already been changed in the 24 hours since opening which must be a testament to the popularity of the pub. One of these was from Vocation and was so well received that a repeat order has already been made.

So, if you are around in Brighouse, call down and take a few minutes out from the rat race, you will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Good and Bad News from Calderdale

As long time readers of 'A Swift One' should be aware, I am a great fan of the 'Barge and Barrel' at Elland. This is the pub where I discovered the joy of real ale and the joy of a the craic in a real pub, and since I have been living in Rastrick it is a pub I have often called off at when I have been 'Shopping' (!!??). But sadly not for long.

I had heard on the grapevine that the pub was in danger of the Punch Taverns 'redevelopment' axe, but I had no firm information - I thought it may be malicious gossip. Obviously the floods at Christmas and the destruction of the adjacent road bridge will not have helped matters. It has certainly been quieter of late but I thought this may have been just a blip. Sadly it seems I was wrong.

It appears that Punch have decided on a change of direction for the pub. No longer a roadside beer paradise but a food outlet. Yippee - I can hardly contain myself. Gone will be the 10 or so real ales, always kept well and often interesting, to be replaced by generic pub food (apparently).

This seems a little short sighted in my opinion - sorry I am being pleasant - it seems bloody myopic. From a selfish point of view there are very few pubs in the locality that are aimed at the drinker, and to lose one is a tragedy. Most are aimed at the John Smiths/Lager drinker - a comment that can never be levelled at the Barge, and are average at best. I cannot understand the business plan that wants to convert a roadside boozer to a food pub when the road only travels one way, there is inadequate parking, no bus service and the promise of massive bridge works in the foreseeable future. And little or no nearby housing as a catchment area. The only plus is the nearby crematorium which may provide a few visits from bereaved relatives - but to redevelop the pub at this time on the strength of that custom . Well ??

I hope the pub rises from the ashes and succeeds, (thats on selfish level so I don't have to rearrange my shopping trips) but I am sad it will never be the same again. It still has my happy memories there though and Punch cannot take those away from me.

However it is not all doom and gloom in my bit of Calderdale, This week sees the opening af a micropub in Brighouse. It is called the 'Market Tavern' and is right in the centre of the town, just off Bethel Street at the end of the market nearest Bradford Rd. I have only looked through the windows but it seems there will be at least 4 pumps on the bar but there were no pump clips on so I cannot hazard a guess as to what should be on offer.

Opening times will 2pm till 10pm, on Wedensday and Thursday and 12 noon till 10 pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It is closed Monday and Tuesday. So shopping  may not be so bad after all !! I will try and call down during the week under some pretext and give you the full information.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Flying Ferret at Shelley

The Flying Ferret,Huddersfield Road, Shelley, HD8 8HF
Last Saturday I paid my first visit to The Flying Ferret in Shelley.
On cask I found Small World's Long Moor Pale and Black Sheep. The former was excellent and a real locale, having been brewed only half-a-mile down the road.
On keg there were three craft/keg offerings that caught my eye Magic Rock's Dancing Bear pilsner, York Brewery's Legion IX and Sharp's Wolf Rock red IPA. There were also other keg fonts on the bar but I didn't register the names. 
I think I was the first customer of the day (we are always keen at A Swift One) and was greeted by the friendly landlord who kindly pulled the above pint before disappearing to cook the equally locally sourced and excellent food below.
More customers came in for various reasons. Some watched the Premiership football on BT Sport, which was on at a nice level for you tune in or out. Others came in for food or just drinks or to play a frame on the kids' pool table. There was full-size pool table on the way to the beer garden.
But I opted for darts as it's always good to see a board in a pub these days. They have become something of a rarity. I sampled and enjoyed the three keg beers I mentioned earlier while realising how rusty I was at the king of pub sports.
On the subject of sport, Shelley Cricket Club is just around the corner and I can see myself heading back this way to catch a few overs at Westerley Lane when the Drakes League kicks off. An early season village derby with Shepley on April 23 looks like a fixture in my diary already but I won't be too upset if rain stops play as I know where I will be heading for some local beer and food.

Monday, February 15, 2016

A couple of upcoming local festivals

There are two beer festivals on the local horizon in the next month, and both are promising to be very different.

The Star at Folly Hall will be opening the doors to its Spring Beer Festival on the 16th March at 5pm. The festival promises its usual 46 beers but will be held inside the pub rather than the marquee.Further details will follow when available.

The same weekend sees The Sportsman on St Johns Rd hosting an Irish themed beer festival. This will be predominantly a keg festival with an additional bar at the rear of the pub so hopefully around 15 beers will be on offer here. Many will be unknown in the area and from new breweries. It is hoped that thirds will be available here to allow us to sample as many as possible.

Additionally there is the Wetherspoons festival running throughout the later part of the month with 50 beers promised across the festival time.

Get out there and get sampling.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Lancastrians join beer from the wood craze

By The Bloke from Hull
The 12th Pendle Beer Festival recently took place at the Muni in Colne, the town probably best known as the birthplace of Wallace Hartley, the bandleader on the ill-fated Titanic (Harry Chapin fans please note!). 
Run by the East Lancs branch of CAMRA, this year’s theme was the 200th anniversary of the building of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and around half of the beers featured were from breweries along its length. However, of particular interest to us “woodentops” were the six beers in wooden casks, two each from Worsthorne and Fighting Cocks (both Lancashire) and Elland (God’s own county - Yorkshire). 
From Worsthorne, Old Trout was a 3.7% ABV smooth full flavoured red-brown ale and certainly very drinkable, whilst the Chestnut Mare at 4.0% ABV was lightly bittered and malty and lived up to its name in colour.

Fighting Cocks is the latest brewery to open in East Lancashire. Situated behind the Italian Restaurant at the pub near Cliviger it is the brainchild of Carmelo Pillitteri who has been experimenting for a few years before “going for it”. At 3.9% ABV the Blighty was a lovely refreshing golden blonde ale. The Spaghetti Stout (5.9% ABV) was brewed with said water from the restaurant! And very nice too.
From Elland brewery was the single hopped golden session beer called Chinook at 3.9% ABV. It is the newest addition to their core range and is already a firm favourite amongst regular customers especially those at the “home of beers from the wood” – The Junction at Castleford
Saving the best until last and quite rightly as the strongest -1872 Porter, a 6.5% ABV beer which really needs no introduction. Arguably the most decorated beer in recent British brewing history. A rich, complex, dark ruby porter from an 1872 recipe. Supreme Champion Beer of Britain and three times National Winter Ales Champion. Wowee!
All six beers were on top form and East Lancs CAMRA are to be congratulated on sourcing them. The word spreads and the revolution continues!

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Riverhead says join us for International Women's Collaboration Brew Day

Liz Crosby, of Ossett Brewery, has kindly been in touch to tell us about Riverhead Brewery's involvement on International Women's Colloboration Brew Day.
The Marsden based brewery has been an active participant in the event over the last few years.
But we will turn this over to Liz who can tell you the whole story.
Liz said: "The Pink Boots Society is an organisation that promotes the continued education of women working in the beer industry through scholarship opportunities. 
"2014 saw the first International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day (IWCBD). A day organized by Sophie de Ronde, a brewing technologist for Muntons Center of Excellence
"IWCBD falls on International Women’s Day (March 8) and encourages women to brew together.
Riverhead Brewery has been part of this fantastic event in 2014 and 2015 and we hope to have a great day again in 2016. 
"We’re inviting interested women to join us on March 5 between 10am and 5pm and brew with us to celebrate IWCBD. 
"You can be an experienced homebrewer, someone who is interested in homebrewing but not too sure how to get started, or even someone who just loves beer and wants to learn more about the production side of things and help raise money and awareness of Pennine Domestic Violence Group.
We are holding a launch event on Saturday March 12 at 2pm, so that everyone can try the beer.
We hope you can be part of this great day."

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Scottish beer festival at Hillsborough Hotel

Swannay Brewery 
Apologies for the short notice but there is an excellent Scottish Beer Festival on this weekend at The Hillsborough Hotel in Sheffield.
I stumbled across it yesterday while on the tram, and I'm glad I did.
First up was a new beer for me: Island Hopping from Swannay Brewery, of Orkney. A 3.9% session beer made with New Zealand (Nelson Sauvin) and American hops. A lovely beer, which I had to revisit later in the session.
Next was Cromaty Brewery's  Kowabunga, a 4.6% pale. The beer's name and the brewery's tasting notes probably tell you all you need to know about the inspiration for it: "Totally bodacious, American hopped pale ale destined for your inner pizza loving ninja turtle. A luscious sweet malt base gives a good body to this beer whilst vigorous late hopping in the kettle from 5 varieties of hops provides a unmistakably juicy flavour and aroma. Kowabunga dudes!"

Next was a beer that was recommended to me by the very helpful and friendly bar staff: Tempest Brewery's  Cascadian. A 3.9% pale sessioner, which was on stillage in the conservatory of the Langsett Road pub. It was a very good recommendation. 
I hit rewind next and ended up going back to Island Hopping, so much did I enjoy it.
My last beer was one I think I had at the Navigation's memorable Scottish ales festival a few year's back: Loch Lomond Brewery's Kessog. It's a 5.2% dark ruby beer with more than a hint of chocolate in the finish. A perfect way to end a flying Scottish session.
The festival is on again today (Sunday) and hopefully some of the beers will still be on during the week. It is well worth a visit.
I've just learnt via the pub's twitter page, @HillsboroHotel1, that all the festival beers are £2 a pint today.
The event is raising money for St Luke's Hospice.
Getting there:
The Hillsborough Hotel is based at Langsett Road and is close to the Primrose View tram stop on the blue and yellow routes. It is also very well served by buses.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Mr Foleys Festival

Last year I made a trip across to Leeds to sample the beer festival at Mr Foleys on The Headrow, and when I heard that this weekend there was to be another, it seemed rude not to revisit.

The beers are on a mixture of stillage and handpull with around 30 available, with the majority being on the upstairs stillage. Thirds were, thankfully, available.

I arrived around 1130 am, and was the first visitor there. I bagged a table and set to work with the beer list. Sadly, I had already missed two beers I wanted which had run off the night before but there was still plenty of choice. A lot of the beers were a little on the strong side, so the third really came into it's own later in the day.

As usual I like to start with light and weaker beer and go stronger - at least this was the plan .Hopcaft 'Mashup no1' was first up, and a good start it was. One of  a limited run of 16 barrels so one not to be missed. I followed with Ashover 'The Fabrick' , a totally different style of light beer but still pleasant, and I do like their new style pump clips. These two were both off the main bar so it seemed sensible to start on those on stillage.

Vocation 'Pride and Joy' with mosaic hops drew my attention and was up the usual standard I associate with the brewery, Northern Monk 'New World Zest' was a dry hopped special and a little stronger at 6.2%.. It was then that things started to unravel when I decided a change of style was needed. Almasty 'Winter Saison' was weaker but packed with the flavour I had hoped for.

Bad Seed 'Smoked Maple Ale' just did not do it for me, despite the tang of Belgian yeast, I found the Pig and Porter 'Disgraceful Behaviour' a bit overwhelming taste wise. But the Cromarty ' Ghost Town' was a porter far more to my delicate taste buds.

By this time the pub was getting busy and there were three of us at my table, all comparing notes on the beers. And we found one that totally blew us away. Gary returned from the bar with something that resembled Ribena but the look on his face when he sampled it soon dismissed that thought. Celt Experience 'The Blood Moon'  was described as a blackcurrant sour. It certainly was. I tried one and it was one of the most distinctive beers I have sampled for some time. As Neil pointed out, quite rightly, not a patch on the Belgian sour beers but for an English (sorry Welsh) version it was really good once I had overcome the initial hit. I could not have drunk a lot, but it certainly did what it said on the tin.

Sadly it did taint my taste for what was to follow. I tried the 10% Anarchy 'Warhead' but although it tasted its strength it was a little one dimensional, and I decided then that my swan song should be a beer from the wood. Three were on offer, two from York and one from Ridgeside. I tried the York 'Terrier' which I thought would be the one to bring the flavours out best, but although I got a hint of the barrel it was not as pronounced as I had hoped.

But nevertheless it was a great way to spend an afternoon with plenty of good beers,at a reasonable price in  good company. Thanks to Jason and his team for another great festival and the good news that he intends another later in the year. I will be there.