It is very easy to get trapped into a cycle of visiting the same pubs repeatedly, for most people this is not an issue, in fact it is behaviour like this which keeps many local pubs profitable.  Two or three pints does not sound much, but repeated 2-3 times a week plus a couple of sessions at the weekend it adds up to about 700 pints a year, approximately £2000 a year in turnover.  You only need a handful of these customers and a number of bills are covered for the landlord.  They are the lifeblood of many premises.

Sometimes its is these very customers that are the reason a pub will open at tea time. Looking back 40-50 years ago when drink driving was more socially acceptable, 4 pints before driving home would be normal for some customers, but the increased enforcement by police and intolerance in society to the act have made 2 pints the absolute limit if on normal strength beer.
No-one can argue against the benefits of these cultural and public safety changes over the last half century, but the reduction in volume drank due to driving responsibilities has probably contributed to the reduction in licensed premises over the same period.

However I digress. when writing this column it is useful to keep up to date with numerous ale houses that occupy the space that is officially called Calderdale.  Things change very quickly in the world of public houses, and there are less onerous tasks in this world than popping into a pub for a couple of beers on your travels.  Over the last couple of months I’ve visited a good number of our drinking establishments and generally the picture is good from a business point of view.

I’ve visited at peak trading, during mid week quizzes, the dead zone that normally marks the start of the week, lunchtimes and the unofficial start to the weekend that is now Thursday.  The thing which links everywhere that I visited is that they are known for serving a number of good ales (the main reason I visit) and this appears to keep their trade healthy.  These places were not always packed to the rafters, but garnered enough trade to pay the bills during traditional quieter periods, with profits being made during peak times.

Sowerby Bridge is still thriving as a drinking venue, the big ale hitters such as the Works and Puzzle Hall Inn are doing good trade and offering an equally good range of interesting beers.  The Moorings with its more mainstream range and the small but well stocked Jubilee Refreshment Rooms are both keeping good customer numbers in their respective target markets.

Halifax town centre is keeping pace with its smaller neighbours with the real ale triangle still keeping the drinkers circulating.  The opening of Dirty Dicks last year has made a real difference to the bottom of town, while holding one of the strongest beer line ups in the centre.  Lewins is still going strong in the shared hands of its management team with its Yorkshire only beer policy still working well as a business model and producing an interesting new beer even for me on most visits. The Ring O’Bells has had some interesting beers on recently and still conjure the customers to ensure a good turnover of beer.

Brighouse and Elland have always been strong and there is no change here, Chris at the Red Rooster has maintained a very good rota of beers and the recent beer festival was a great success, mirroring the pubs success on a regular basis.  Mark, Jason and team at the Ship Inn are still keeping very good beer as well as good custom, while the Barge and Barrel did one of the best Ploughmans I’ve had as well a good range of nice ales when I visited last week.

Hipperholme swalharts Cock of the North and Travellers Inn range from ticking over nicely to being packed to the rafters, with the Travellers Ossett focused range providing some excellent beers from their smaller operations Rat Brewery and Fernandes, while the Cock of the North’s own ales are still of the high quality I remember.

People are obviously noticing the link between a good ale house and consistent trade as we will soon be gaining another ale venue in Hebden Bridge at the location of the old Inn on the Bridge.  The Old Gate promises 8 pumps with a mix of real ales and craft beers.  The pictures released so far shows a very nicely done out venue.  If their promises are true, then it looks like the Fox and Goose and Stubbing Wharf, who attract a good number of the ale and cider crowd respectively have gained some healthy competition in the area.