Pubpaper 737 – Discovering new pubs and dropping others.

Posted: 30th November 2013 by santobugtio in Pub Paper, Writing

This week I want to talk about the venue, without it a place is nothing, there can be no bar, no drinks, no atmosphere, nothing.  It doesn’t even have to be a permanent structure, the temporary bar at a music festival or the beer tent at an ale festival still counts.  In the case of some venues just outside Brighouse it doesn’t even have to be legally erected.  Over the last week, I’ve been in brand new bars, long standing bars which are new to me, big gig venues and old haunts.

If a place is designed well for its purpose then it can only add to the elements within it. The Sportsman in Huddersfield is case in point.  I’ve done most of the Huddersfield Real Ale circuit and this pub was the last one to tick off my list.  A 1930’s pub, it has a large central open area wrapping around the bar with two small side rooms.  All are full of original features and retain a feeling of the period it was built in.  It works perfectly, the large main room generates a nice atmosphere even on a quiet Sunday afternoon and the cosy side rooms keep the balance between privacy and inclusivity.

I’ve got to mention that The Sportsman’s beer is up there with some of the best pubs in Huddersfield in terms of quality and range, with a many fantastic ales from the many excellent local brewers such as  Summer Wine Brewery, Magic Rock and Mallinsons.  Over 15 beers and ciders are on pump and tap and they also have an extensive bottle collection.   When looking at the Huddersfield Real Ale circuit as a whole there is very little to choose between The Grove, Hand Drawn Monkey and The Sportsman.  Some people may say that Hand Drawn Monkey doesn’t have the range of beers of the other two, however I have a soft spot for the place and this is my column :^)

Why I haven’t visited The Sportsman before I don’t know, but return visits will be guaranteed, especially as Hand Drawn Monkey is closed on a Sunday,  the fireplaces in the side rooms kick out a lovely heat which is going to be more than welcome in the coming months over a nice brew.

Moving on to a more mainstream bar, Jeremy’s at the Boathouse which has just opened next to Sainsbury’s in Brighouse overlooking the canal basin.  Taking up the full ground floor of the converted building in one large open plan room, this is the polar opposite of the Sportsman Inn.  The bar is pitched somewhere between bar and gastropub and is unashamedly modern in its intent, but nods back to the history of the building in many elements of its marketing and interior design with the original brick arches taking centre stage.

The bar only does 2 real ales, however when both are from Ilkley Brewery you can forgive that and when they also do my favourite spanish beer Mahou its a thumbs up from me.  The welcome was friendly and the customer service could not be faulted.  I said a few weeks ago that Brighouse needed some new blood injecting into its bar scene and this is just what is needed, the town has its boozers, real ale pubs and a chain pub, a slightly more upmarket independent bar fits into this mix well.

I visited on a quiet thursday afternoon and there were probably 10 people in the bar, however it didn’t feel empty even though to look at it you would say so, with a nice chilled atmosphere filling the room even with that small number.  My fellow drinker, Jason who has worked in a lot of the pubs in the town and is currently based at the Railway / Commercial Inn (is one name not good enough for you lot?) agreed that they’ve done a good job on the place.  I wish the place all the best as it is obvious that a lot of work has gone into it.   One last comment on the Brighouse pub scene, illuminating your entrance passage with a sea of blue light and painting it the same colour worked 20 years ago, but not in 2013.

I have a policy of not naming local places where I have had bad experiences in respect to the editor, and sadly an old favourite has dropped off my list of pubs to visit this week.  Previously a place where a good beer was guaranteed, I tried a pint of one of their self branded beers and whilst nothing was technically wrong with the beer, it was just plain crap and only finished the pint as I had paid for it.  That is life, places get added and removed from your mental list, and this week my pub list is in credit by one overall.