Pubpaper 770 – Huddersfield Food and Drink Festival

Posted: 9th August 2014 by santobugtio in Pub Paper, Writing

The Huddersfield Food and Drink Festival is something I try to visit each year.  However its popularity is both a blessing and a curse as whilst generating a great atmosphere, at peak times the queues can be up to 15-20 minutes to get a drink or food.   By the time you get to Saturday tea time, a sardine is laughing at you for the space it has in its tin.  Over a quick pint on Thursday night, I was informed by a regular at the Red Rooster that the best time to go is on the Friday afternoon, so a plan was hatched to get over there as a family the following day.

He was right, you could get a proper table (shared), the queue for the food and drinks stalls were minimal if not non existent.  This made it a far more enjoyable experience, you can actually browse the stalls and bars looking for what you want rather than compromise and just buy for everyone from one stall to avoid a second queue.

If you like your beer and cider, there is plenty to keep you interested.  The Star Inn, The Sportsman, Vox Bar and Zepher all have a presence on the St Georges Square site among others.   Add the two railway station bars in the Head of Steam and the Kings Head and you could happily not leave the area for 3 days, bar sleeping.   Over a couple of visits that afternoon I tried beers from 4 of the bars.  None were overpriced, coming in between £3 and £3.50 a pint, slightly above regular pub prices, but a small festival premium I don’t mind as I appreciate the costs which go into setting up a temporary bar and paying for a pitch.

The Star Inn and Sportsman bars were up to their brick building parents standards in both quality and range.  The Star Inn was serving a cracking dual hopped Galaxy Columbus from Mallinsons, one of my favourite local brewers, but had a nice range of 8 or so pumps to pick from.  The Parched Cider bar was serving a lovely medium dry Somerset Cider, as well as a 100% cider slush puppy I never got round to trying.  Zepher had a nice range of continental and american beers, the German brew I had hitting the spot.

Last but not least was the Sportsman, with a set of 8 pumps.  This pub in one of my top 3 pubs in Huddersfield, joining the Grove and Hand Drawn Monkey, so a nice range of local and excellent beers from further afield was on offer as expected.  However, I kept it local with two brews from Magic Rock Brewery, with both Rapture and High Wire being spot on, this brewery consistently pleases me with their beer range.

From a food point of view, the Jerk Chicken from Barringtons was excellent, the first time I’ve tried the dish.  I was having a good chat to one of the chefs there whilst at the Chilli Jam stall (as my mouth rapidly got very warm indeed from their Yorkshire Dragon Chilli Jam, well recommended if you want to clear a cold quickly), and given my experience of the food and the people who run it, it’s a place I will definitely give it a chance.  The curries from Kabana and Ali Murad were good as well, especially the vegetable curry from the latter.

As evening started to beckon and the post work crowds started to build up, we retreated to Hand Drawn Money just around the corner.  A couple of the brews from their sister brewing operation rounded off the night perfectly whilst my wife finished off a day of good cider with more of the same.  The bar is currently being refurbished, and was halfway done on this visit with new toilets finished and a bigger “cellar” area allowing a new rack of 10 or so beer taps to come online soon, this adding to the existing pump and tap selection.   If you took the location on a back street, the half finished decor, relatively small floor space compared to other pubs in the town and a number of other factors, it should not work on paper.  But it works perfectly in reality, good beer, good bar snacks, good takeaway range and great staff.   The size generates a good atmosphere with less than a couple of dozen people.

This was my second visit this week, I popped in with “local music impresario” Jason Fieldhouse from the Commercial / Railway in Brighouse and even when there were only 3 people in the bar you didn’t feel conspicuous.  If you are about Brighouse on the 30th / 31st August please come down to the Canal festival as he is organising music for the event, as much support as possible would be fantastic.