Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Plumbers finally opens its doors

For what appears to have been an eternity we have walked to the bus station in Huddersfield and seen workmen outside the Plumbers Arms. We have been taunted by various suggestions of when the pub would reopen, and more so by the sign outside suggesting it will be a 'Real Ale Pub'. I was just bemoaning the fact that it was still closed yesterday as I walked past, and as I was having a crafty squint through the windows to see what was occurring a very kind young lady opened the door.

It was just 1pm, and I was the first customer of the revamped pub.

What did I find ? Firstly, I must say that it is impressive. It has been totally gutted and stripped back to the bare brickwork inside, and the central bar island serves both sides of the pub. There is also a lot of bronze (colour) around the bar, with the metal bar top and industrial piping to the fore.

It feels fresh and clean, as would expected, and was a pleasant way to while away a bit of time, and as I was in the pub, other people had seen the door open and soon there was quite a crowd inside.

There are 8 beer lines for the real ale drinker, plus a cider line, and alongside the common or garden lager lines there are also a few craft beers, (but I never jotted them down), On the real ale side were Taylors Landlord, Mallinsons, Elland '1872 Porter', Cheshire Brewery 'Gap' and a new brewery from Halifax called 'Felix'.

I had left with the intention of returning later and taking some photos and more copious notes but I failed so the above been scripted from memory.

Reference to an article earlier in the week in the 'Examiner' reveals that there are plans for accomodation upstairs in the pub, and a food menu will be introduced in time, and in the future the adjoining property to the right may even be converted to a wine bar.

It looks to be  a welcome addition to Huddersfield's ever growing real ale scene, and is somewhere to while away the time while waiting for a bus.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Cross Keys, Siddal

The Cross Keys in Siddal, near Halifax has now been open as a freehouse for over three years. 
It has during this period gained a reputation as one of the best pubs in Yorkshire under the ownership of Ruth Dunsmore and Hugh Kirby, writes The Bloke from Hull.
Ruth and Hugh got to know each other when young. In fact, they were childhood sweethearts. However, their lives took different paths until they reunited once again and decided to take on a pub as a joint business venture, something they had often joked about. With Ruth’s business acumen and Hugh’s vast experience in the brewing and license trades they saw the opportunity to take over the pub as a totally independent free house, - “free of any tie”.
The pub had been a failed pub group hostelry that been closed for some time. Ruth and Hugh, however, saw its potential as an opportunity not to be missed. They wanted to put the “pub” back into a pub, just like they used to be. One day Ruth was in Skipton and decided to make an offer there and then and negotiated the deal. No pussyfooting! After just a month, with a pot of magnolia paint and an overhaul of the fire together with extremely hard graft, the pub was reopened on December 7, 2012. As the project took off Hugh took on the day to day running of the pub while Ruth continued with her full time job.
Hugh made use of his links in the trade and struck up supply deals for cask ales with as many local breweries as possible and other suppliers to provide products complimenting the style envisaged. Once open, the word soon spread among members of the local community that its former hub had been reopened and revitalised and curious villagers came to discover the delights of their local. They liked what they found and began to return to the warmth and comfort of a second home. It did not take long for beer enthusiasts from near and far to discover via the “hop vine”, the latest addition to the real ale pub scene and Ruth and Hugh’ s efforts were soon recognised and rewarded by CAMRA and SPBW.
Ruth and Hugh have always supported local charities and always make the most of opportunities created not only on a daily basis but also via festivals and by sponsoring local organisations and sports teams. Consistent reinvestment into the pub has enhanced the décor and ambience while added features are the beer garden and letting rooms. Only recently, further sympathetic refurbishment has taken place in the bar area and as with all such adventures there will be more to come.
There are always things going on from a community point of view. The tap room is an ideal room not just for the darts and domino teams but lends itself well for meetings, parties, wedding breakfasts and receptions and funeral teas. Sunday afternoons see some great music gigs from both local outfits and bands from afar. Even touring bands from America have sought out the venue and had their requests to play at the intimate surroundings granted. Cycling and walking clubs gather use the Cross Keys as a pre and post exertion meeting point.
There are many notable characters at the pub, perhaps most notably the beloved pub dog,  Poppy who patrols the pub with extreme vigilance at all times making sure that she gets her share of the award-winning pork pies made by champion producer Barry.
Thus the pub is all a great traditional pub for locals and beer enthusiasts should be. There are no TVs, Sky Sports, pool tables, gambling machines or certain, bland lagers and bitters. Just great beers in a friendly atmosphere. A fine nod to tradition has been the purchase and hanging of a welcoming 3D “at the sign of” style” Cross Keys sign which has replaced the more usually seen board signage.

Ruth and Hugh – we raise our glasses to you.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Destination Huddersfield

This is your last chance to sample an epic beer festival weekend in Huddersfield.
Things got underway on Thursday with The Navigation's Beer Festival in Mirfield, which is showcasing beers from East London breweries until Monday.
The Sportsman's IPA, The Rat and Ratchet's Great Gnawthern and The Star's MMM festivals kicked off on Friday.
I made it to three out of the four festivals. Apologies to The Rat & Ratchet for not making it to their event but four festivals in one weekend was just one step too far for me! I'll see you next time I'm on Chapel Hill.
Save for one mild, I drank pale, very hoppy beers which were just up my street.
My brewery highlights were two from Truemans (Navigation), North Riding's US IPA (The Sportsman) and 'several' Malllinsons' beers (The Star).
Timbo has already trail blazed with his festival posts, so scroll down the blog roll to see reports on The Navigation and The Star.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Star, Huddersfield MMM Festival

You know how it is ? You spend ages waiting for a festival then four turn up at once . After my day out in Mirfield, I spent yesterday sampling the wares at the Star, at Folly Hall at their 'MMM Festival'. What is MMM I hear you asking ? Well, its a Mixture of Milds (its is Camra mild month after all) and Mallinsons specials. Effectively a mini beer festival,(by The Star standards)  in the pub.

There are 7 Mallinsons specials, 2 Mallinsons (special) Milds, and 8 other Milds available over the weekend. Most are on a pop up bar in the pub , and all are cellar cooled and handpulled, and at a price of £2.90 across the board makes it value for money.

The Mallinsons selection were an interesting combination, especially for the beer purist. There were 5 beers which were 'normal' beers (ie from their usual range) which had been late hopped with T90 hop pellets of different varieties - a bit like dry hopping. It was fascinating to sample them side by side and compare and contrast the different flavours that The T90 pellets imparted to the beer. One beer was dry hopped, and provided an interesting comparison. with the pellets, And if you really wanted to be complex,there was 'Hop Slap' on the bar, alongside its T90 counterpart, so you could sample the original and the altered, side by side. It was almost science. But they were all good beers whatever, and shows that Mallinsons beers are all different, despite what the odd cynic may say.

If milds are your thing then there is an interesting and varied selection on offer. Oddly only two - from Salamander and Sandstone fit the definition of a traditional mild. The others all have various additions to them; the two Mallinsons available are both 'Emley Moor Mild' but one has raspberry extract, the other fresh tangerine in it, again to let us check the difference between the two. Cryptic give us a strong mild with Earl Grey tea, Raw provide a chocolate mild, Green Duck,a fruity mild, and Mithril a bitter, chocolate mild. An eclectic collection if ever I have seen one. And with my distrust of fruity beers they were not bad either.

On the fruity subject there is also a one off beer from Huddersfield's newest brewery Beer Ink. This is their 'Flagship' with proper grapefruit and pineapple added, and it does give a twist to the beer. And if you want even more fruit Briggs Signature has provided a one off barrel of his latest brew - this time with fresh rhubarb.

It is twist on the traditional beer festival but one that works well, and satisfies everyone from the purist to the ticker, and the casual drinker. There is something to satisfy every taste.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Navigation Spring Festival

Readers of 'A Swift One' will be aware that one of the festivals that is on my 'must visit' list is the Navigation at Mirfield. Yesterday saw the start of this years Spring festival, and true to form, I visited !

The festivals have recently been in the form of a selection of breweries from a certain area, giving us punters chance to sample a range of beers rarely seen in our part of the world. This selection was hand picked by Kevin himself from London. And he has done a pretty decent job of it too.

He provided beers from East London Brewery, Truemans, Five Points, Howling Hops, Redemption, Signature Brew, and a new brewery to me - 3 Sods from Bethnal Green. There were several beers from each brewery covering all their brewing spectrum, all on hand pull and all cellar cooled. And with thirds available there was no excuse for not trying a few.

I started my trip up and down the pumps with a visit to the light and hoppy side. Signature Brew 'Pale' was the first up - Cascade and Chinook hops brought plenty of hop taste here; Chinook was also to the fore with 3 Sods 'Session IPA' this time combined with Ahtahnum hops which gave a more complex taste (and it was slightly stronger); Trumans 'Zephyr' was another hop monster, this time with Australian hops to the fore. I could happily have stayed on these three all day but research beckoned.

My next selection were again light and hoppy. Trumans 'Swift' was light and refreshing with a background of Saaz hops, their 'Lazarus' was stronger and showcased US hops, and Howling Hops 5.1% New Zealand Pale was generously hopped with Nelson and Motueka. By this time I was in serious danger of overlooking some of the darker beers on offer.

I corrected this with Howling Hops 'American Brown' - it did what it said on  the tin but it was not my favourite style, better was the Signature Brew 'Black vinyl Stout', which was a good example of an Irish Stout, and East London 'Nightwatchman' was strong darker bitter, with a pleasant malty background.

By this time the plan had fallen in to disrepair and I was mixing and matching through the list. I enjoyed the single hopped Redemption 'Rock the Kasbek' with hops from the Czech republic, and the East London 'Quadrant' - an oatmeal stout.

The festival runs through the weekend, admission if free and beers are £3 a pint - a bargain since Kev says he was paying around £4.50 a pint in the capital for them. The pub is just off the railway station at Mirfield. So there is no excuse not to call down and sample a few.

Thanks are again due to Kevin for his sourcing of the beers, and Derek for his bartending skills and fount of knowledge. Another success and I shall endeavour to return.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Three Pigeons(Halifax) May Beer Festival

At this time of year when beer festivals come thick and fast, one of those on my 'must visit' list is the Three Pigeons, in Halifax. It is slightly different to other pub beer festivals that I visit with a emphasis on selecting recent local breweries for its beer selection. And, as a beer ticker, that makes a wonderful incentive to sample the results. This is the result of my visit yesterday afternoon.

The festival opened on Thursday evening but for convenience sake a trip there on Friday was a better option, and when I arrived, not long after midday opening, there were plenty of other like minded souls already in residence, with tickers I knew who had travelled from through Yorkshire, Lancashire and some even further, who were already on with the beer list.

This would be my one criticism of the festival, that my festival list, although very nicely produced,was somewhat difficult to read. However, since the beer was my main objective for the visit, this was a minor complaint. On the main bar there were around 8 handpulls, all with festival beers. I selected a couple of breweries that I knew were new to me and set about festivalling.

One of the breweries I had selected was Mill Valley, from Cleckheaton, a late addition to the list, and very new, but their 'Luddite' was a decently crafted 4.5% beer, however I preferred my second selection Snowhill 'Pale' . This was weaker at 3.7% but packed with fresh hop flavours, and tasted crisp and clean. I had noticed that others were drinking thirds, an easier way to sample more of the beer list, so the rest of my selections were in thirds.

In addition to the pub bar, there was an additional bar in one of the back rooms, with another selection of beers. I tried this selection next. Here I found beers from Torrside, Quirky, and Fighting Cocks. None of these were breweries new to me, but the beers on offer were. My preference for the selectiion being the Quirky ' Blooming Marvellous' . Again light and hoppy, and dry hopped with Cascade as well. A good choice.

I feel an explanation of the system may be appropriate here. Although the beer list shows around 40 beers, not all of them are available at the same time, with the policy being that each pump is dedicated to a brewery, with the second beer from that brewery coming on, when the first runs off. But unfortunately, there were not enough pumps to showcase every brewery so some were not on at all on my visit.

However, there were still enough for me to make a decent afternoon out of it, and a trip back to the main bar brought Chin Chin 'Alone In The Dark' (another brewery I had had never heard of, from south Elmsall) and Gainford Beer Co-operative ' Styrian Blonde' . I preferred the latter, but there was nothing wrong with the former. Plenty were selecting the Beer Ink 'Pin Up' which we featured a couple of weeks ago.

I was just getting into my stride when the curse of the mobile phone struck me, and a call meant that I had to curtail my afternoon's enjoyment and return home to Timbo Towers to resolve a family crisis. I had managed to get my new breweries (bar one that was not yet available) but had to leave many new beers.

The beers will change throughout the weekend so a second visit may be in the pipeline, to sample some of the missing beers. Notwithstanding, this is an excellent festival, and Tina and her team deserve great credit for their organisation, and Liz and her team for selecting the breweries. If you get the chance over the weekend, get down there and support them. There will be something there to tempt you I am sure.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

East vs West Fest starts in Wakefield this Thursday

As Timbo pointed out in a recent post - mid May is awash with festivals.
On Thursday evening the four-day East vs West Fest gets underway in Wakefield.
On Friday it is the turn of the Three Pigeons in Halifax 
The following week The Navigation, Mirfield is hosting a festival from Thursday, May 19 as is The Rat and Ratchet in Huddersfield.
Then following day The Sportsman and The Star are joining the festival circuit until Sunday.
Returning to the first out of the blocks, the East vs West Festival at The Red Shed will feature 19 handpulled beers from Yorkshire and Lancashire.
The White Rose collection are collaborations featuring organiser Malcolm Bastow, of Five Towns Brewery.
The Lancashire representatives are brewers who are based underneath arches in Manchester.
The beer list is being teased out on Twitter by @FBrewery bit by bit, but this is what we know so far.
Lancashire: @firstchopale 'Pod' a 4.2% Vanilla Stout; @AlphabetBrewCo 'Hey Buddy' a 5% Ginger & Mango pale ale; @sixoclockbeer 'Archer Six O'clock'; @Blackjackbeers'May the 4th be Wit you' 6% manc brew dog collab; @RunawayBrewery "Summer Saison' 4.2%; @trackbrewco 'Mazama IPA' 5.5%; @BeerNouveau 'Peterloo' 4% Porter; @SQUAWKBrewingCo El Dorado IPA 6% IPA; @TicketyBrew Dampf bier 4.1% like a wheat beer but barley.
The Yorkshire list, to date: Five Towns/Brown Cow Mammatus 4.5% orange wheat beer; Five Towns/@CapHouseBrewery Kol 4.3% fruit mild; @northridingbrew / Five Towns collab Rum & Raisin mild 4.2%; @RatBrewery / Five Towns collab Rat Out 5.8% Rye IPA. There are few more to come too.
It all starts at 6pm on Thursday, May 12. On Friday and Saturday it is open from noon to 11pm. On Sunday it runs from 1pm to 6pm to tie in with the final day of the Premier League football.
Tickets cost £5 and include a souvenir glass and a half-pint token. The festival is raising money for Candlelighters and Newton Hill Cricket Club.
The festival venue, The Red Shed is downhill from Wakefield Cathedral and is about ten minutes from Westgate Station and a bit less from Kirkgate Station.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Beer Ink - The Launch of Another Huddersfield Brewery

We have been here before. In fact around 8 years ago if my maths are correct. Beer Ink have launched their brand at the old Mallinsons brewery. 8 years ago we were waxing lyrical about the new kids on the block,  Mallinsons. Today I am waxing equally lyrically about Beer Ink.

I had the chance today sample their beers at their pop up pub at the brewery, and excellent they were too.  I could tell you lots about the brewery - but I never asked. It is on Plover Rd, at Lindley; the old Mallinsons brewery via Hand Drawn Monkey. It has been totally refurbished and sorted out by Ryan and his team and has launched its first beers on the public this weekend.

There are cask beers, a couple of keg beers and in time, there will be cans and bottles, but the brewery is aiming to get the core sorted before branching out into other things. Seasonal specials are promised and other interesting things but that is for the future; what about the beers today I hear you cry ?

They were very impressive. Three were cask, two were keg. I tried the cask; 'Avant Garde' a 4% traditional style bitter, 'Noire' a 5% stout, and 'Pin Up' another 4% light beer. Pin Up was a very good example of its style, but only got the bronze when compared to the other two who I think were a dead heat for gold. Noire was not a 'Guinness style' stout but looked rather like a strongish mild, but that was where the comparison ends. Lots of coffee, liquorice, burned malt flavours going on there, and, as Ryan promised, as it warmed up the better it got, and became very moreish. On a par was Avant Garde. This was a traditional style bitter. The colour tending towards the copper, but the taste was a twist on what I expected. Five different hops were there, E.K. Goldings and Admiral from England but algamated with Nugget (US) and a couple of antipodean ones, and they combine to produce a classic, not traditionally English but a blend of the Southern and Northern hemispheres.And very good too.

There was a single IPA 'Flagship' and a double IPA on keg on my visit, but there were rumours that the double IPA would hit the bar later.

The beers were all very reasonably priced, all less than £3, and the 'pub' was adequate. It is an outside addition to the brewery but comfortable enough, and with the beer garden at the rear, sun trap, it seems like a good place to while a few hours away. The trouble is that the pub licence is only spasmodic at present. It is open tomorrow (Monday 12-6) and then will reopen at the next Bank Holiday (Spring Bank). But if you get the chance get to Lindley and sample the beers they are excellent and I am sure we have just see the start of another Huddersfield brewing success story.

Apologies to Ryan and his team....have now corrected the brewery name. For some reason had written it down wrong.