This weekend myself and the family popped over to the Marsden Jazz Festival on Saturday. Only finding out about the event on the Friday night when I met a friend there for a walk and beer after work, a ton of free performances, lots of pubs and pop up bars and good food appealed. In recent times the town had got a reputation for trouble from those doing the Transpennine Ale Trail. The pubs in the town have really cracked down on the stag, hen and other large parties who were descending on the town each weekend, banning fancy dress and other related paraphernalia, as well as the police increasing their presence. Last time me and the same friend were in the town it was late July, and we were half freezing outside by the river drinking a pint from the Riverhead Brewery Tap. Roll on 10 weeks and we were doing the same on a Friday night except this time it was pleasantly warm outside and the pub was full as always at that time of the week. The randomness of the British climate!
Riverhead Brewery is one of the Ossett micro breweries, alongside Fernandes and White Rat. They produce a range of ales from 3.6% Bitters to 5.5% Strong Ales, 5 different beers at a time from their onsite brew plant Alongside their regular ales at the festival they added a special pump for “Jazz” at 3.8%, although I’m guessing this was a rebadged brew from their collection of recipes. As expected they also serve a number of the other sister micro breweries beers as well as from the parent Ossett brewery. The beers from this family of breweries generally are not going to knock your socks off, but will provide a solid set of session beers across various styles. Inside, when you can get in, is a classic wooden clad interior, stone floored, bar furniture spread around the various nooks in the pub with a dining area upstairs. Real ale wise they normally run 6-8 pumps at a time, half being their own.
A couple of visits to the pub on the Friday night and on arrival on the Saturday afternoon saw three beers sampled (was driving on both occasions), two of those from onsite. The visitor beer was White Rat, a 4% pale ale, a pleasant hoppy beer I’ve had many times before. Moving onto the home brewed beers, I also had Butterley Bitter (3.8%) and the aforementioned Jazz. The Butterley Bitter is a classic clean and drinkable best bitter that’d flow all night, whilst the Jazz had a bit more depth of flavour coming through in the hop stakes. The former beer is named after the famous stepped slipway and accompanying reservoir above the town on which the slipway is now sadly being replaced by a more anodyne concrete design to suit “more modern standards”.
As well as here we visited the New Inn on the main road in their pop up tent, again the pub being so packed it was a battle royale to get anywhere near the bar. This is the first time in this venue and it looks a nice place when there is room for you, but given this is the town’s biggest event of year and free gigs are held inside and out all over the town, we are not to be surprised. I couldn’t get close to the bar to check the wickets, but it looks like they offered 4 ales at least from my distant view. In the beer tent I tried a couple of beers, first of all Vocation Bread and Butter, one of my favourite session ales which went down well, followed by the Dark Horse Brewery produced Hetton Pale Ale (4.2%), a beer I’m sure I’ve had before, but in the long distant past. A nice session beer with a nice touch of hoppiness and bitter, one I’d drink again. The burgers from the BBQ went down well to warm us up as tea time started to rob us of the daytime heat.
On the way home we popped into the Market Tavern in Brighouse for a last beer. I’d not been in here for a good 6 weeks before Friday night where I’d stopped off for one, again on the way home, allowing me to catch up with Snap and Debs who are still running a superb operation there, the beer and company as good as always. The Exit 33 Golden Cascade and Vocation Bread and Butter both hit the spot very nicely. A repeat visit by me and my family after the Jazz Festival was as much as they deserved and a warm welcome was extended as always. I like pubs where the people who run them have time for you and not just your £3.00 you pay for your beer, as for us all, we can get beer anywhere, Tesco, Wetherspoons, our favourite local or micro pub. But we choose our venue because of the people there, both staff and patrons and long may that continue!