A couple of days ago a friend gave me a copy of an article published in the Daily Telegraph from April 9th under the heading 'A Toast to Britain's Best Pubs' detailing 30 pubs separated into different areas such as beer, character, food, nature,and heritage. I was somewhat surprised to find that I had only ever visited three of them, one in Salford (beer), one in Birmingham (beer) and another in Newcastle (heritage). There was only one in West Yorkshire,(just) in outer Todmorden in the nature section. What ? This is county crammed with lovely pubs fitting each of these categories - where were they ?
Lets start with Heritage. Huddersfield has 5 listed in CAMRA's Yorkshire pub heritage guide. The Albert, The Shoulder of Mutton, The Sportsman, the Victoria, and the Beaumont Arms all feature there for various reasons, and that excludes those in the rest of West Yorkshire. All are excellent examples of their respective styles, and all worthy of a visit.
I will overlook the food section - I am a philistine that thinks a pub should be a pub, not a glorified restaurant or cafe. It should be judged on its beer, not the quality of its pies.
I will also skip over the nature section, my co-writer Mr Ambler is far better qualified than me to make comments on this, the only nature I usually notice in a pub is the resident cat.
Character is a difficult thing to define in a pub. What I consider makes a pub characterful will not necessary be what you find characterful. It will include the ambience, the welcome, the general feeling there, the attitude of the staff, but I believe that the real character of a pub comes from the clientele. You cannot buy that, it develops with time and commitment. And some pubs have it, and some don't. It's where you feel comfortable, and where you want to return, (time and time again hopefully).
And finally beer. Well, we are a town with over a dozen breweries. And some pretty good beer as well. Why else is there an 'Ale Trail' that brings drinkers to the town ? Why do I weekly encounter individuals hunting out the best beers in the best pubs in town ? It would be inappropriate for me to mention which I consider the best beer pubs in town, but it does not take rocket science to work it out.
So Daily Telegraph, stop being so short sighted as to overlook a part of the world that has a multitude of pubs to fit each of your categories, and many of them better than the pubs you selected. Get up to West Yorkshire and Huddersfield in particular and see what you are missing.
Sorry I have not illustrated this article but although I can blog again I cannot add pictures for some reason