During the past fortnight I've visited four pubs and a beer festival.
Destinations have ranged from Sheffield, Huddersfield and Otley.
My first port of call was The Wisewood Inn, Loxley, which is a mile or so from Hillsborough
I've been past on the bus a few times but had never called in until recently. I was told it's a free house and had just had its first birthday under its present management.
I won't do a full review as I've got a fair bit of ground to cover but I was impressed by the condition and clarity of the beer. My standout from among the four or five handpulls and keg lines was Abbeydale's Evil.
After a good Sunday lunch there I headed back into town and The Wellington at Shalesmoor, which reopened at the end of October.
The pub, formerly home to Little Ale Cart beers, is now the tap of Neepsend Brewery. I was pleased to see that it was a tasteful conversion. Not a great deal had changed bar the absence of Little Ale Cart beers. From memory, in their stead were two or three casks of Neepsend plus some guest ales and keg lines.
I just had enough time for a pint but managed to have two Neepsend beers which were new to me.
The Neepsend theme continued a few days later when I called in at The Star, Lockwood, Huddersfield. There was a mandarin beer from Neepsend on there, plus a very nice beer from Shiny whose name escapes me. I don't think it was Pail, which I like too.
I don't normally do midweek drinking but I was tempted out by the news that The Star has recently started doing food on a Wednesday night. I think it's a single dish menu which changes from week to week, but it is the sort of tasty and value for money fare that we associate with Sam's beer festivals. Talking of which, The Star's winter festival starts on Wednesday, November 23 and runs until Sunday.
I'm not privy to a beer list but I intend to report back after an early visit.
Last weekend saw me going off patch to Otley. I was part of the Five Town's 'posse' and thankfully Malcolm knew the way.
The festival was in the clubhouse of Otley Rugby Club. There were nearly 70 ales on in various forms of dispense. There was a long bar with beer on gravity, a smaller bar with handpulls, cider in boxes and a pop up craft keg bar. Malcolm kindly bought me Abbeydale/Brew Dog Sheffield's 'Peach Iced Tea Beer' collaboration. I was so impressed by it that I broke with tradition and actually voted in a beer of the festival competition.
On the way back to the bus station we went to a lovely bar, which Malcolm was familiar with having dropped off beer there. The Old Cock was my idea of a country pub: low ceilings, beams, a good fire, plenty of people and good beer. We had one eye on the bus back to Menston railway station so it was an all too brief visit. However, we did manage a bit of 'quality control' on Five Town's Old Norrell, which I hadn't had for a while and enjoyed, a beer from Blue Bee (Dana?) and Rat Brewery's After Rat Mint.
That leads me neatly on to my last nugget of news: The Rat and Ratchet on Chapel Hill, Huddersfield will launch The Grapes of Rat, a barrel-aged 10% barley wine, on Thursday, December 1 at 8pm.
These brewers are keeping us busy!