It had to happen at some point in time and last week was the first time I missed writing a Pubpaper in over 6 years. Yet another weekend hospital visit,,the third in a month, finally stopped me in my tracks. But I’m back (from a writing point of view and frankly missing the pub like mad, something you don’t realise until you have no choice in not visiting! I’ve realised it is the social side I miss most, being able to live with the same well kept good session ale all night. I don’t need go out looking for something new to try all the time. At home I’ve got a selection of nice real ales including new ones sitting in the pantry but the motivation isn’t there to drink them when no one else is doing the same or there isn’t the atmosphere at the venue.
My dad is the same, he can have a load of beer in the house, but if anything he’ll have a whisky or rum as a nightcap whether at his house or mine. Beer for me has become the drink for social gatherings, be they wherever. As much of it is liking my beers freshly poured from the pump, some will say that bottle conditioned beers can be as good, but I’d disagree, you can’t beat the freshness of a pint. When I visited the Cloudspotting Music Festival back in July, I took a number of beers, but not many left the car boot as although some of the real ale was “decent session” at best, I was happy to pay £3.00 a pint for a nice well kept pint.
However if I can’t visit pubs myself what I can do is recommend pubs for other people to visit.and it’s also great to hear independent feedback on other favourite venues. On Sunday, my parents were taking an afternoon out in Hebden Bridge between visits to me at the Hospice. Asking for recommendation for lunch, I suggested the Stubbing Wharf just outside the town, I’d heard good things both pre and post flood, before heading into town for a pint of one of the handful of pubs serving real ales. The beer there has always been a stable, consistent range but well kept from my experience. The food apparently did not disappoint with the Sunday dinners hitting the spot for a good price, accompanied by good well kept session ales as I had previously experienced. A friend of mine who had eaten both before and after flooding said the standards were higher before the flood, but were still very high now.
My parents never did get into the town itself to try one of the other bars such as Calans, Drink!, Old Gate or Fox or Goose. However fellow guests at the hotel they were staying at in Halifax had visited the town and Calans for the first time and were impressed by the place after my folks recommended it to them, both from a beer and atmosphere point of view. My parents did manage to visit a new bar in the Halifax town centre over the previous Friday, the Pumproom getting the honour post dinner at the Percy Shaw. Intending to stay for a pint before heading back to the hotel bar, they ended the visit 4 pints laters, always a good sign, with 3 beers from the pump rack going down well and them definitely wanting to visit again. Only the Alexandra bar to introduce to them now from the new bars in Halifax!
A bit part of doing this “job” is letting people know about venues I enjoy visiting whether it be online, in print or in person. If I don’t like a place, it doesn’t get mentioned, places I like you’ll see repeatedly, whilst others are mentioned merely in passing. I have the enjoyment of discovering these places as do all us beer drinkers, meeting the great people who run, own and work behind the bars of these venues. It’s great to see Tom Dyson join Tony and his partner and move behind the bar of the Pumproom whilst the Cross Keys has developed a “family “ behind the bar in all but genetics throughout it’s close on 5+ years of existence. The dynamic behind both the Market Street Tavern and Calans is very much a core partnership team operating the venue with close friends and family.
These sort of management teams are present all across our pub estates, but they are the teams which work and make going to those pubs a pleasure…..and long may I have that pleasure in my life!