Ever since the Halifax real ale triangle was completed once again with the re-opening of the Royal Oak as Dirty Dicks Food and Ale Emporium, I have been looking for an excuse to visit.  This Friday seemed the perfect opportunity to sample what looked to be an excellent food and drink selection.   The promise did not disappoint, with 8 real ales on tap (plus one cider), including their house ale named after the pub which costs a bargain £2 per pint.  The previously untried house beer was a nice ale, pale, with a nice well rounded flavour.  This beer is brewed at Empire Brewery in Slaithwaite just outside Huddersfield, and is one I would not have any complaints drinking as a session beer.

The other two beers I sampled were again new to me.  The first was Castle Rock Boatman, a 5% Bavarian wheat beer.  A brewery I have not previously tried the wares from, they produce a new wildlife named beer once a month with a contribution going to a local wildlife trust from the sales. and this was first released in January 2010.  The beer was a nice example of the style, if maybe a touch bitter for my ideal taste. The other beer was from a brewery I have a lot of respect for, Phoenix Brewery based near Rochdale.  Tennis Elbow is an excellent pale beer with a distinct citrus / fruit flavour and a nice underlying hoppiness, for me the best beer of the day.

The food was also excellent, with the burger impressing at nearly an inch thick once cooked, the chilli which topped it was also good, and the twice cooked chips were as good as any I’ve had recently.  My wifes’ tuna cheese panini also found approval.  The pub itself retains the original design and restores the period features, but seems roomier after the renovation.    A place I will certainly visit again.

The day before I headed up for a walk in Wharfedale, and on route mid walk I stopped in at the Kings Head Hotel in Kettlewell before finishing the walk with a 4 mile stretch back along the river.  The pub served 3 real ales and had a very welcoming real fire after 5 hours of getting wet on the hills and moors which form its backdrop.  The pint of Black Sheep Golden Sheep was as good as I’ve had it, although a local beer from up the road at Yorkshire Dales Brewery called Buttertubs was far too bitter for my personal tastes (this view was voiced often, but they sell out regularly I was informed).

Driving back I stopped off at an old favourite, The Craven Heifer in Addingham, the first place I have ever offered a choice of cheeses when ordering cheesy chips.  The pub is separated into dining and drinking areas, and the food is generally on the gastro pub side, but the chips hit the spot after 14 miles of walking.  The pub, which serves 3 real ales at any time, typically Black Sheep, Timothy Taylor and a guest, is well worth a stop over if in the area.

You may recall I am not the worlds biggest Greene King fan, and their latest move to increase the choice of beer in a number of their pubs has not made me any more of one.  The ‘Local Hero’ initiative allows pubs which have seen beer sales slip to be allowed to source micro brewery beers within 20 miles to sell along side their existing Green King ales.  It’s a nice thought, but surely you shouldn’t have to be struggling to have access to such beers.  Their trial pub tripled their turnover, with that in mind it would be in the drinkers and pubs interest to open this offer all of their premises.

Now to change hats, as a member of the organising team, I hope you all can make it down to RAM FEST 2 at Southowram Cricket Club on Sunday 3rd July starting at 1pm.  There will be an outside bar, BBQ supplied by the local farm shop, face painting and childrens entertainment.  7 bands will entertain you ranging from Vegas Elvis to acoustic to the indie rock that is The McCarrons. Entry is only £5 with children getting in free.  The festival will raise money for cerebral palsy and epilepsy, both local charities.