There are weeks where you barely get near a pint glass, never mind sample a decent ale, and there are others where you seem to spend most of your spare time in the pub.  In an eight day stretch, I counted 4 visits to the Old Ship Inn, 3 visits to the Richard Oastler, 2 visits to Lewins and a couple of pints at my local pub as well as a solitary visit to Dirty Dicks.  In that time I sampled at least 18 different beers, including 3 Salamander beers, 2 from Little Valley, 2 Bridestones and at least 7 other breweries offerings.  When you drink that many different beers in a short period, its takes a very good beer to be memorable and the quality was very high generally.

A handful stood out from this set of beers, Hilden Twisted Hop (4.7%), sadly only brewed for the Wetherspoons Real Ale festival, is an excellent IPA, with a fantastic full hop flavour, one of the best beers I have tasted in a while.  The second is Prospects Pioneer (4%), an amber ale with nice balance of hops and malt, and a light refreshing body. Honourable mentions have to go to Little Valley as I was impressed by their Withens Pale Ale (3.9%) with a distinctive hoppy citrus flavour and its sister Tods Blonde (5%) a malty smooth blonde ale.  Other beers of note included an excellent Salamander Golden Salamander 4.5%), with the two hops really showing their flavour in this golden ale, and slightly different was Bridestones Pales Ginger (3.8%), a subtle yet tasty ginger flavoured beer.

A mention must go out to Lewins, which I had the chance to visit twice in a day last weekend, the manager who is a self confessed troubleshooter is doing the great job with a nice selection of beers,  the three I sampled all being spot on.   Where as a lot of pubs in the town centre aren’t child friendly, Lewins was more than welcoming to my 20 month old, and entire family later in the day, that goes a long way in my eyes.  The interior is welcoming and cosy, but with plenty of space.  The food concept is simple, award winning pies and mash, which in conjunction with good beer cannot be beaten.  This is the managers 39th pub he has worked on, but his first in Halifax, lets hope number 40 doesn’t come too soon.

The Cock and Bottle at Bank Top celebrated its first birthday this weekend, I’m glad to report it is still as good as when it opened and being embraced by the community with same enthusiasm.  The beer selection of 3 pumps is spot on at the moment for a “non ale house”, with 3 different but good beers.  Michael, who has moved from construction project to pub management with great success deserves the credit for putting the time and investment into what was a much needed community facility.  The other pub which re-opened recently as an Indian tapas bar at the other end of the village, the Packhorse, seems to be doing decent trade as well, although not to the same level as the Bank Top pub.

We locals all know that we a spoilt for good pubs in this area, and visitors to the area also spot this.  I’ve mentioned the lack of similar pubs in my birth county of Leicestershire, I put this down to lack of local knowledge after moving away 15 years ago, but my dad, who was up for the weekend confirmed my suspicions on this fact.  For an area with over 3x the population of Calderdale, you would struggle to find as many similar quality ale pubs as we have in their whole county.

Finally I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that cask beer drinkers are more likely to visit a pub than other beer drinkers, and one of the reason I cited for this was the availability only in such premises of most ales.  Research by Molson Coors covering 300 pubs found that those products which can be found on supermarket shelves have less prospects due to the direct price comparisons than “products that are less easy to replicate which seem to offer the best prospects for the on-trade”.   The Cask Report came to the same conclusion a month ago.

Happy supping, be it cask or keg, until next time.