I’ll open this week by again congratulating the Ring O’Bells for winning the CAMRA pub of the season award.  This pub, despite only being re-opened 8 months ago, has become one of the best real ale pubs in Halifax.  Its established itself along side the Three Pigeons and Pump Room as pub where you a guaranteed a good pint.  The pumps serve consistently good rotating ales as well as a solid regular of Acorn Barnsley Bitter.  A pint of Salamander Mimas there on Saturday was typical of the quality of ale, light and hoppy, and extremely drinkable at 4%.
Not that it needs a bonus, but well priced, good quality food and being family friendly only increases its appeal.

I’ve had quiet news weeks, but this week has been spectacularly so on both the national and local front.  I’ve now been doing this column for just over 6 months, and given I am still being asked to give my 700 words every week, so I am assuming some of you out there are reading this.  As you know we live in a very fertile area when it comes to real ale breweries and pubs, especially the second and it is easier to stumble into a real ale selling establishment than one that is not in many of our towns.  Sowerby Bridge is the jewel in our real ale crown, with Brighouse, Elland and Hebden Bridge following in its smoke track, all maintaining an excellent ale presence.

Halifax, after a few years of losing some good hostelries is now starting to recovering with the aforementioned Ring’O Bells and Old Post Office opening since last summer, and more real ale being available in regular pubs.  However its has lost a lot over time against its smaller neighbours and will take a mini revolution in the towns’ pub trade to catch up.   One of the problems it also faces is that there are quite a few good ale pubs within 10-15 minutes walk including the Big 6 and the Shears Inn.  The dip and rise in the fortunes of the pub trade mirror those of the town centre generally, which is on a rise again now, and if the Piece Hall gets the grant from the National Lottery, then I hope that they use it for both a daytime and evening venue. I can imagine a lot worse things than sitting on the cobbles on a summer evening drinking a fine ale from a pub within the walls.

In the smaller villages, there have been multiple re-openings across the area, with the most important to me being the Cock and Bottle at Bank Top.  Others include Luddenden Foot where they were down to one pub out of three at one point, that being the Old Brandy Wine, now rejoined by the Weavers Arms which seems to be doing good business.  Friendly seems to have recovered its pub scene as well now after a dearth of closures, even if one has changed to a deli / bar, it does ensure the premises are still licensed.

The Calderdale pub scene has seen some real lows, but looking at the area as a whole, I am confident about the pub trades’ future going forward, especially those which provide more than the mainstream beers.   Those who lead the race when it came to offering real ale are ahead of the rest in the recovery as they held onto more customers during the worst times in 2007-2009.  It is up to the rest to catch up, as Halifax has to with its surrounding towns.

The triumvirate of the recognised real ale bodies when it comes to campaigning, distribution and ensuring the quality of beer served, namely CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers) and Cask Marque all joined forces for the first time this month in sponsoring and producing the Good Beer Guide for next year.  I’m surprised its took this long for such a logical tie up to occur as they are all promoting the same product from its different aspects.  The promotion and take up of the product has possibly reached a point where it needs a more co-operative approach to taking it to the next level.

Until next week, Happy Supping.