This week, after a few weeks exploring the beer world far and wide, I’m going to discuss some of our local pubs.  Living in the area for 17 years now, I’ve seen pubs come and go, fall into the pits and rise like a phoenix from the flames.  I’ve seen too many turned into housing and many more forced to struggle due to the likes of Enterprise and Punch Taverns.  But there is a lot of pubs in the area who do a really good job of serving well kept ale and making you feel welcome, the two basic functions of a public house.

I’ve written about Brighouse many times before and the town has benefited from new entrants in the pub circuit, with Jeremy’s and Millers Bar being the headline openings recently.  Both are good bars in their own right and ones I visit on a regular basis.  Jeremy’s has developed a reputation for its live music, whilst Millers Bar is well known for its Craft Beer selection and the recent opening of their beer garden is attracting more families now summer is coming along.

But I’d like to discuss a couple of the established names in the town.  The Ship Inn and the Commercial / Railway Inn have been around for years, both traditional pubs which provide the two key roles of a pub as defined at the top of this article.

I’ll start with the Ship Inn.  I was a massive fan of the place when Mark ran the pub and got on really well with him, Jason and the team.  After they left, I didn’t go in for a long time and when I did start to go in again maybe a year later, I didn’t warm to the pub immediately, it took a long time to build up the liking for the place I had before, it seemed slightly cold to me and the ale selection seemed to take time to get right.

Brighouse, Old ShipHowever Marsha and her team have turned the place around totally now, although I still want the backwards clock returning above the gents toilets door.  The place now is as welcoming as any pub in the area, the rotating beer selection over 5 pumps is well balanced and well kept as is the range of real ciders and tap beers.  The pub has restored its band of regulars and is attracting a mix of people from across the spectrum.   It is a place where you will find other pub landlords drinking and there is no better sign that a pub is doing well if your local rivals are drinking there.  With the back pool room and live music, they have returned the place to what it used to be, a very good small town pub.   Recent refurbishments have helped brighten the place up and you are also guaranteed that very special welcome if you are an Ipswich Town fan and let it be known.

HAL-1058-51900-railway-200x150@2xSlightly out of town there is the Commercial / Railway Inn, next to the town’s train station.  I’ll admit now I only really started drinking there because Jason who previously worked at the Ship Inn worked there also.  This has been run by Trevor and Sue for many years now and it feels like an extension of their home, in fact, some might say it looks like an extension of someone’s home with a bar placed at one end.   The Commercial is good honest pub, it doesn’t try to do anything fancy, serving 3 rotating well kept real ales and a good range of tap offerings again with live music and pool room.  Like Marsha at the Ship Inn, I have a lot of time for Trevor, as it’s not just about pulling pints and taking the money, it is being part of the community and interacting with the people who live in the area.

Many of Trevors long time regulars are like a surrogate family and they are looked after as they get older.  It is the modern continuation of the old school model where the pub was a service at the heart of the community, you knew peoples habits and you knew who to ask if something didn’t seem right.

For some older people, especially where natural old age causes memory loss / dementia, the pub can be the one constant linking the past to the present with things changing all around them.  They may not able to navigate to a new places, but they know the walk to their pub like the back of their hand.   If they visit a few times a week at lunchtime and eat there you know they are getting a decent hot meal that day and talking to people, keeping that critical social contact, avoiding isolation.  Bugger those who say beer isn’t good for you, when you get to that age, you deserve a few beers.