A couple of weeks ago the Bull’s Head pub in Sowerby Bridge started it’s new life with the first phase of development completed to allow the cellar bar to open as the Sowerby Taps.  Due to my current non drinking status I’ve not had a chance to visit, but looking at the pictures it has been fitted out nicely, looking like what it is, a proper pub.  Plenty of exposed wood, bench seating and stained glass windows all add to what how I think a proper pub should be designed.  Demand for it seems to be good with the initial Thursday – Sunday opening hours being extended to earlier evenings in the week and live music being added to the attractions.

However some people want to be sharing in their success from outside the business.  In their first week they had a burglary with two people helping themselves to what they wanted.   It is such a shame that not everyone wants to support new local businesses and with the second phase of work completing at the end of next month allowing the Bull on the Bridge Hotel to open upstairs, the combined venues will add some new choices into the town which has not  seen much change in the pub market since Wetherspoons opened in the town.   

Sowerby Bridge is a town which boomed as a leisure destination, then plateaued as the number of venues reached critical point before Wetherspoons merely accelerated the closure of the underperforming venues.  The town has currently got a solid, varied range of pubs whatever your taste, backed up by a good range of restaurants and a new venue always helps to put the spotlight back on the town, even for a short while.

There is a certain frustration about being in a pub with 4 beers you’d love to try on cask as well as a handful I’d want to try on keg and not being able to drink one of them, spending the night of pots of tea and pints of cordial.    Even if I could my taste buds are so mixed up now that even the best beer in the world would taste totally weird and off.  Three weeks into treatment and I’ll admit radiotherapy is pretty brutal on your mouth and throat, only a cocktail of painkillers keeping life relatively normal.  All credit must go out to the Radiotherapy department at St James, Leeds.  They can’t do enough for you from medication to advice to access to specialists when you need them.  I’d rather not have cancer, but if I am to have it, I’d not want to be going anywhere else to be treated.

What forced abstinence does not make you miss is average mass produced beer, whereas in Victorian Craft Beer Cafe each visit to the bar was mentally teasing me.  I visited a bowling alley in Bury and as normal their beer choice is limited to a mega brewers core brands, in this case Molson Coors (I’ll be covering the ongoing Ab InBev – Molson Coors merger once the dust has settled by the way).   A choice of Guinness, Coors Lite, Worthington and Kronenborg 1664 did not tempt me one bit even if I could drink, happy with my Iced Water and cups of tea.  What you also realise is not drinking saves you a ton of cash in places like this, when you can be paying £3 plus for a Coors Light.

What you do come to appreciate more however is the customer service over beer choice.  I was out in Manchester last weekend while my girls went to see Disney on Ice, I met with an old friend at a pub in Salford who is professionally involved in the beer trade and it was good to chat with someone with that depth of knowledge again.  After the show had finished the family went up to the Northern Quarter of the city for a drink.  Being post 6pm it was that fine line between daytime drinkers and nights out starting.   Extra busy from 30,000 visitors to the same show as my family had been to, everywhere was busy, but we found a heated outside seat at a bar called Home Sweet Home.   For once a bar wasn’t about the beer, but the customer service couldn’t be faulted, couldn’t do enough for my two girls, the service was quick and attentive and was made to feel really welcome, in fact we’d have stayed for dinner there if tables were available.  Ice cream is become a very good friend of mine now and all I can say about their ice cream milkshakes (which cost as much as a beer) is encapsulated in a quote from Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction “I don’t know if it’s worth five dollars, but it’s pretty f**kin’ good.”