Pubpaper 853 – A Sad Loss and Happy Gains

Posted: 26th April 2016 by santobugtio in Pub Paper, Writing

13043239_10153954937373780_6284912195645074424_nThis week starts with some sad news.  Over the weekend, Darren Carney who managed the Sportsman at Ploughcroft for many years until last Autumn, passed away after a brave battle with cancer.  If you met Darren, you’d not forget him, always a smile and happy welcome whatever was going on, even till the very end.  I only became friends with Darren last year after years of knowing him and chatting to him as just a drinker in the pub he ran.   After I went public about my cancer, he got in touch as he had been diagnosed with cancer in the same location, giving support to each other over the past 8 months, sadly his cancer was far more aggressive than mine.  Once you got to know him, he was a very funny and caring man, who will be missed by many people, including myself.  So this weekend, please raise a glass on his behalf.

I’ve said in the past that there are some pubs you visit as much for the people as you do for the beer, in some cases the people count more than the beer.  This was the case at the Sportsman, the beer selection was always solid and reliable, well kept and good for a session.   The staff made the place, led by Darren until last year, always friendly, welcoming and cheerful, hopefully the legacy of his ethos will last well into the future.  It is where I held my 40th birthday party and they couldn’t do enough for us.

bar_upThe pub is a core element of my life and I am lucky to have so many good ones on my doorstep.   This weekend we went out for a meal, which didn’t impress so I’ll not mention the place.   In town we visited Cookies, a place which used to be a regular haunt for me, it’s not changed in 16 years and that is a good thing.   A range of german beers, decent spirits and a few real ales, add decent music and it is nice place to start the night.   After the meal we popped into the Victorian Craft Beer Cafe, busy as always on a Saturday night with Simon and Co keeping the beer flowing and the welcome warm.  There is always something new to try here which keeps me and my family coming back repeatedly.  The two beers I had here did not disappoint and I would have had the lovely mango cider (which tastes like it was freshly juiced) if we didn’t run out of time.

We finished the night at the Cross Keys where my dad was staying for a couple of beers, with a warm welcome as always from Hugh and Ruth.  Being the back end of the night Hugh joined us for a chat as we enjoyed our nightcap beers.  I write about this place a lot, but it deserves all the plaudits it gets.  Great beer, warm welcome and lovely original interior, what more could you want.  If you look at the pubs I mention the most, namely Victorian Craft Beer Cafe, Market Tavern and Cross Keys, you notice they are very different beasts, but all have common elements of good beer, nice welcome and pleasant interior.

DA_POSTCARD_HOLMFIRTH 46On Saturday I visited Holmfirth with my dad for the afternoon, popping into the newly refurbished Postcard Inn for a beer before heading into the town centre with some book shopping (inc a signed Brian Blessed book for £3.50).  We then visited the Nook and had some of their own brewed beers.  The berry flavoured ale was really nice and the onion rings impressed in size and taste.  The music taste of the customers here should be complemented judging by what was put on the jukebox.  The place lives up to its name with little rooms at every turn.  Before heading home we returned to the Postcard Inn.  A few of you might remember Kevin at Lewins about 3 to 4 years ago, who now runs the Postcard.   Four well kept real ales, good bottle range and some nice continental beers, it’s well worth visiting if you are in the town, located next to the main car park by the CO-OP.

I really am looking forward to this summer from a beer perspective, Calans both in its pop up location and at its permanent home, two new real ale micro pubs in Halifax town centre and the Calder Valley finally lifting from the lows of the Christmas floods.  Libertine to visit still among many others means my weekend will be full visiting pubs both old and new, and what a way to spend a weekend.