Pubpaper 872 – The bars are back in town

Posted: 11th September 2016 by santobugtio in Pub Paper, Writing

In the past few weeks two new bars have opened in Halifax town centre, the first being the Pump Room opposite the Bus Station, the second being Alexandra, the new beer house and bottle bar on Alexandrea Street near the Victoria Theatre. Add these to the Grayson Unity and Victorian Craft Beer Cafe and the town centre circuit is starting to look rather healthy from a new entry point of view compared to 18 months ago.

img_20160909_193244I’ll start with the Pump Room. The bar is venue reaching to the back of the building. The beers are stored in a chilled cabinet behind the bar with 6 real ale pumps, 4 tapped beers from Outstanding Brewery, a guest tap beer and a cider tap. The beers are loaded and unloaded via a sliding rack and electrified chain lifting mechanism, a clever idea to maximise vertical space in the cabinet. This weekend the beers were from Salopian, Elland, Mallinsons, Saltaire and Small World in a good range of styles. I tried a couple of the Mallinsons, Elland SPA and Outstanding 4our over the weekend and all were well kept and went down well. The bar seems to be gaining customers from both existing real ale bars and passing trade from the Bus Station, whilst bumping to local beer writer Chris Dyson giving a me chance to compare notes. Tony and the team are doing a great job for its first few weeks in business, a good balance of well kept beers with a nice layout for the interior with a mix of soft furnishings, bar tables and stools with plenty of standing room in-between. Decor pieces are placed around the walls suiting it well, although I now have suspicions of where the lantern from the old Pump Room might have ended up.

As a pub, it’s nice and friendly both with the family and later in the evening and generally feels a nice place to be, a key test for any public place. Away from the beer the spirits selection is good with a smaller but high quality selection on offer. Well worth a visit whether in passing or for a longer session. We now move onto the Alexandra Beer Shop and Bottle Bar.

img_20160909_211528A small venue on the surface of it, the back of the space being taken up by a bar with two hand pumps and four keg lines. Above that at the back of the bar is two shelves of good quality spirits. It is only above that you see the second purpose of the space, as boxes of beer take up the remaining 4 shelves, to the right are display bottles for sale with a couple of fridges so drink in customers can have a cold bottle or can. A bar stooled bench looks out of the window across to the hall of the same name opposite, standing room between this and bar. Upstairs is a similar size with 4 tables and standing space for more drinkers, the distinctive stags head getting your attention as you ascend. Chatting to the guys behind the bar they know their beer and are making a good start to this bars life. I tried one of the tap options and a couple of the real ales over the two visits over the weekend. The Brass Castle Polish Champagne Oak Smoked Wheat Beer was an nice, interesting beer with initial tastes of Polish Sausage fading to a pleasant Wheat Beer. On the pump I had Brass Castle Tail Gunner being a good session Rye Bitter and the Vocation Pride and Joy was up to its usual standard. I bumped into Aimee from the Cross Keys on one of my visits and she seemed to like the place as well, enjoying a number of the canned and bottled examples. The two guys running it seem friendly and are happy to chat about the place and the beers. Both families and evening drinkers are made to feel very welcome and the first week bodes very well for its future. Off Sales go from £3 upwards depending on brewer and beer and if you want a bottled cask or keg ale there is a bottling machine on the bar. Tea and Coffee are offered for those not drinking, a fact true for the Pump Room as well with both venues open throughout the days they open, important to attract the daytime crowd.

So in summary, two new pubs well worthy of consideration from a venue and beer point of view. Halifax’s beer stock is rising, lets hope for more soon!