Pubpaper 840 – State of Health of Halifax Pubs

Posted: 24th January 2016 by santobugtio in Pub Paper, Writing

I’ve written these columns in a variety of places.  From one of many pubs I’ve frequented to trains en-route to London.  This weeks column comes to you from Bradford Royal Infirmary Ward 14 where I’m recovering from an operation to remove part of my kidney,  hopefully the final step in the battle to rid my body of any possible cancer.  I’ll find out if the Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy was totally successful in March, but this marks the end of a long six months of treatments for me.   Reality bites back in a week or so when I return to work after 12 weeks off, but it iis a reality I am looking forward to.

Last weekend I paid a visit to Halifax town centre for a few beers over an afternoon with friends. Recently I’ve had to limit myself to a couple of pints and usually in the one pub,  in Halifax that has usually meant Victorian Craft Beer Cafe.  I got out of the habit of going out in Halifax socially about 3 years ago, my pub visits being linked to shopping trips or going to other attractions in the town.  This has meant that there are a lot of pubs I’ve not visited in that time or not at all if pubs have changed name.    In fact the list of pubs I’ve been in can be counted on one hand and that includes the two Wetherspoon premises.   Otherwise it’s been aforementioned Victorian and the edge of town located Old Post Office and Ring of Bells.  So the chance to visit a few of the town’s other watering holes is most welcome.

One thing you do realise is there is some damn cheap beer out there and that is excluding the usual Wetherspoons Old Barum Top we visited en-route.   The choice of real ales is of course less in these places than the craft and real ale pubs I normally visit, but the beer can be at a price where only more mass market names in the real ale scene or local suppliers can sell at a price which enables pubs to make a profit at £2.10 a pint or less.   Example beers are Thwaites Wainwright and Copper Dragon Golden Pippin, with local beers coming from the likes of Slightly Foxed in Sowerby Bridge.   What we have is some very different kind of pubs, one type serves real ale with mainstream brands as an equal or second string where pumps will have at least as much prominence as keg lines, the other offers real ale as a part of an overall drinks offering with far more T bars than real ale pumps visible on the bar.  When discussing Wetherspoons they again are a totally different animal to both of these.  Of course the Victorian Craft Beer Cafe is a specialist craft and real ale beer house and proud of it.

En-route I visited the Plummet Line on Bull Green, Bow Legged with Brass across the car park and the Union Cross Hotel.   These pubs are not going to win any beer awards, but all served a drinkable ale in a decent atmosphere (this was a Saturday afternoon, so can’t comment on the evening experience in Halifax town centre) with friendly attentive staff.  A very healthy customer base was found at each of the venues as well, even taking into account this is peak drinking time.  Other pubs seemed to be doing as well as I passed.  Now I know that weekends are not the issue when it comes to making a decent living for the landlord but rather the desired steady trade during the week, but it seems to me that the pub scene in Halfiax town centre is looking after itself well.

The pubs are generally being well maintained, have a decent level of staffing and are welcoming places, all good signs of good financial health.  Pubs which are not covering their costs normally start cutting day to day maintainence of the property itself as well as reducing staff hours and coping with fewer staff to save money.   Back 8-9 years ago during the financial crash and it would have been a totally different picture and not a good one at that.   Of course there will be pubs in any decent sized town which are struggling, it is the same in any business sector, but as a regular pub go-er and having seen the pub sector in Calderdale first hand for nearly 20 years I am optimistic about the future, more pubs are opening (inc a new real bar in Brighouse), those which were affected by the adverse flooding are recovering and re-opening,    Most importantly people seem to be wanting to go to the pub and I’m sure we’ll all drink to that on behalf of all those people who work long hours to deliver us that pint of beer!

  1. Neil cartridge says:

    Mr liquorish! Sorry to hear about your battle with cancer. I’m sure you’ll win it!!