Last weekend, I popped over to Huddersfield for the afternoon, and it would’ve been rude not to visit a couple of its excellent hostelries.  The last time I was at the Kings Head within the Railway Station building it was in the middle of a major rebuilding project with the roof being held up by jacked supports and the entire pub sporting a rather unfetching black protective plastic sheeting look.   What a difference 6 months makes!  The place now sports its newly restored decoration with the original look of the room as it was in its time as the ticket office before the days of the Kings Head and its predecessors.  There is some work still to do above the bar and snug, but the high ceilings, blue panels and white coving along with the extra space released from the works has really transformed the place and judging by the band setting up when I was there, the acoustics are not too shabby either.

The pub always had a great range of beers from the real ale world and Purple Moose Madog certainly whet the whistle on the day.  But you weren’t short of choice with range of regular beers from the likes of Farmers, Magic Rock and Timmy Taylor on offer supplemented with a range of local guest beers from Golcar, Slaithwaite and Elland as well as some cracking guest beers from further afield at Oakham (Citra) and the aforementioned Purple Moose from North Wales.  I would have stayed on, but had to meet up with the rest of the family, but another longer visit is certainly in order.  Happily the meet up point was another great pub in the town, Hand Drawn Monkey, located on Wood Street (one down from the main road at the top of town).  This was where the real beer highlight of the day was for me (and it takes a lot to beat a Purple Moose beer).

Along side their own brews, they had a range of beers from the Black Iris takeover the previous week.  The brewer is Nottingham based and has established itself regionally, now spreading its tentacles across the UK.  It’s a brewery I’ve not come across before, but if the three beers I tried are indication of what they can brew, it’s one I want to try more often.  The three beers I enjoyed were all very different.  In no particular order, Homeward Bound Double IPA (7.2%), Drop the Anchor Black IPA (6.5%) and Rise and Shine Coffee Milk Stout (5.2%).  It didn’t do any harm that these are some of my favourite varieties of beer.  First up Drop the Anchor is everything a good Black IPA should be, deep black in colour, a good creamy head, dark malts and good bitterness throughout the beer, with a fresh taste and lightness on the palate with a good long aftertaste lingering in your mouth.

The second beer is Homeward Bound, a copper / amber coloured double IPA with a quickly settling head, the taste is strong without being overbearing and certainly doesn’t hide its strength, with a mix of top end flavours from the citrus family combined with more earth flavours for depth, it drinks nicely and the rich flavours graduate though as the beer level lowers in the glass.  The last beer was Rise and Shine, I’ve always been a fan of coffee stouts, as a lover of both coffee and beer.  This beer had all the coffee taste you’d look for in beer of its kind, with a nice hit from the beans balanced with a cream taste which is slightly sweeter than most (apparently from the lactose added, which also adds to the smooth rich body).  Three very different, but equally good beers. It should be noted that these three beers were all on keg, with some of their offerings also coming on cask.

Before I wrap up this week, I am going to mention something that I really do appreciate in pubs, tasters.  With the wide range of beers and brewers out there, there can be a lot of variation within a beer style.   At Hand Drawn Monkey I was offered a sample of each, as well a small taster of a couple of other beers on the bar as I was talking to the barman and when you can go to a bar and genuinely ask what they recommend, it is a very good sign they know their beer and how to look after it.  I can do the same at the Cross Keys, Siddal with the same trust.  Another pub who has been good at this in the last couple of weeks was the Ship Inn, Brighouse when choosing a cider from their festival range at the 1940’s festival, with samples of 3 or 4 before making a choice.  It shows you have nothing to hide and in the beer world, that can’t be a bad thing.