About a month ago I wrote about the departure of Mark Feasey from the Ship Inn after 6 years and stated I hoped that at least some members of his team would be kept on by the new regime. Sadly it appears that a new broom is sweeping the place and an entirely new team of staff are being brought in despite an acceptance by them that there is nothing technically wrong with some of the people they have cut.

One of those who have been let go, Jason, called me “a soppy bugger” when I said the place wouldn’t be the same without him. I make the suggestion that a ban on follically challenged musicians working at Brighouse pubs is enacted immediately to drive these troublemakers out of town as these people are still exerting their disruptive influence from places like the The Railway and Commercial Inn. I jest of course and my sentiment of a month ago still stands and as I stated repeatedly over the years, the staff are what make or break a pub for the regular customer.

I wish the Old Ship Inn all the best under the new team and on the visits I have had so far, the staff have been polite and the beer been kept well and varied, Brighouse only has a handful of pubs in the town centre and each one is as important as the others from a town level perspective.

In the footballing world, a new manager will bring his own coaches with him, but still recognise some of the previous players have the talent to be in his first 11 alongside the new players he has purchased in the transfer window. These existing players are the most familiar to the fans and it is those players who the same fans have more of an affinity with until the newer signings get up to speed. The same analogy can be made to a team who run a pub, certain existing staff members can endear loyalty from a significant number of customers.

Moving across the M62 to Huddersfield I finally got to do my belated pub trip around the town which was supposed to take place on my birthday 2 months ago. It was worth the wait, starting at the Grove Inn at the top of the town centre, close to the site of the new leisure centre. It is hog heaven for beer lovers. 36 taps and pumps in total, a bottle menu that goes on for 8 pages and very knowledgeable staff all make this one of the best pubs I have been to in a while. I could easily settle into the place at 12pm and be there at chuck out time significantly later without my taste buds ever getting bored.

After 3 pints there we moved on for dinner as my wife was not interested in the insect based bar snacks served there and then headed to Hand Drawn Monkey (to be known as HDM from this point) which sits on a back street just down from George Square.

However before we got there we did intend to have a drink at Vox bar just down the road from HDM who do some nice american beers on draft, however the only cider they had was Magners or Kopparberg, neither of which my wife will drink. Talking to the manager outside, it appears his hands are tied when it comes to the cider choice, despite him recognising and highlighting that people who just want a decent cider like Aspalls or Thatchers will be with the beer drinkers who come to visit the town and will influence the choice of drinking location. I’ve spoken to the same guy several times before and I like the bar itself, its staff and what it can offer me, all kudos to him for holding his hands up on this one.

Getting on to HDM, this is one of my favourite bars anywhere, it is not the biggest, best decorated, have the most pumps or get in the rarest beer, but I love the place. The staff are key here, friendly, customer orientated and know their hops. Their own brewery are producing some excellent beers and a couple of them were consumed on the night along with a bottle of Mallinsons Galaxy. They also get in the best beers from around the area from the likes of the aforementioned Mallinsons, Summer Wine Brewery and Magic Rock (note – Grove Bar is Magic Rocks unofficial brewery tap if you are interested in their beers). The place is well worth a visit, as is the Grove. if you are in the area or not!

A quick pint at the Head of Steam saw us to our transport home, it should be noted that while Leeds may have more pubs, Huddersfield has one of the better pub circuits IMHO.