There’s not been much pub action this week for me, so a bit of a catch up on all the pub news from Calderdale. Calans Too is still going well from reports and a June date for their re-opening at their original premises is looking likely now it has received its “dried out” certificate from the inspectors. I hope to visit again this coming weekend to catch up with Alan and Alyson, so hopefully more news once I’ve spoken to them. On Thursday I popped into the Market Tavern and chatted to Debs and Snap. The 1960’s weekend was their best weekend ever with standing room being a pipe dream over the duration of event, getting into the building being a challenge for long periods. With only two on the bar, they worked relentlessly to make sure the thirsty punters were kept refreshed, a great effort from a great team and the best pub in the town centre of Brighouse. The beer quality is still being kept high at the Market Tavern and this in turn is making other venues in the area raise their game and that can only be a good thing. If you have a good real ale tour in an area it will only attract more drinkers and benefits all businesses in the area, be they pubs, shops, food outlets or restaurants. Of course, some venues don’t follow this ethos and they deserve all they don’t get, even resorting to going into other pubs and deliberately self promoting their own venue in groups.
In Halifax, the new micro pub venture has finally got a name, The Grayson Unity will open in the next couple of months, although exact dates are yet to be announced. The venue is located opposite the town hall (in the old County Court building), looking out onto the Broadway Plaza complex. Being ran and owned by Spike from the long running Doghouse music events, “the bar itself is small but friendly place where you can get a lovely drink in a unique setting. Local and the wider Yorkshire producers and suppliers will be used with odd Lancashire curveball” (sic). With this and the expected new venue opposite the bus station, the Halifax Real Ale pub scene could really take off again. Take these, Victorian Craft Beer Cafe, the two Wetherspoon pubs (I know they are mainstream, but real ale tours always seem to take them in, especially if they arrive in the vicinity of breakfast or brunch), plus Dirty Dicks, Three Pigeons and finishing off at the Cross Keys, Siddal and you have a weekend of drinking, never mind an afternoon. As I said about Brighouse, these people will eat and shop as well as drink, so the town of Halifax will benefit as a whole.
I hosted a party this past weekend, purely for the sake of it given the lack of good news recently. Close friends and family invited up, whilst making sure I had enough beer for all the guests and cooking way too much food. I now have enough beer in reserve for my next party, and have a respectable cocktail bar in development! The point of this is that as a culture, alcohol is still our social glue, it wouldn’t be a party without it. Most people had met at least some of the other parties present at some point in the past, but by the end everyone knew pretty much everyone else, even though geographically spread by 200 miles. Beer, wine, spirits all lubricating this process. The call to “lets meet over a coffee” does not appeal to me, even though I love the stuff, I’d rather have a pint if the good stuff is available nearby. The pub is an even better proponent of this theory, I popped down to the Cross Keys, Siddal so my dad could check into his room for the night, one of my best friends staying in the other room. We stopped for a couple of beers as it would be rude not to before returning home. After the party, they both shared a taxi back, my dad retiring after a beer, my mate retiring much later after possibly one too many beers. The best mate lives in mid Wales, but has visited a number of times and always stays there. He is accepted as much as any regular by staff and punters alike, would you get the same after a few visits to a coffee shop over a period of a year, I doubt it.
And finally, Darren Carney from the Sportsman, Ploughcroft is being laid to rest on Friday and there is no more fitting place to celebrate his life than the place he loved and worked for many years. I’ll be there to raise a couple of glasses of beer to him on the day, please do the same wherever you are drinking this weekend.