Note : For those you read my previous post, certain sections have been recycled from that article.

I’m writing this in the lull between Christmas and New Year where at this stage, if you are like me, despite appreciating their beer and cider, have got to the stage of being thoroughly sick of alcohol generally.  Most of us still have stocks in the fridge or cupboard to run down, and there is still the turn of the year to see out.  Despite almost constant drinking from Christmas Eve through to the following Wednesday, I managed by some miracle to avoid a hangover, but my liver now feels like its been out on a weekend session with Oliver Reed during one of his bad weeks. Come 2012, more than a few of us will be giving up beer for the month and trying to undo the excess that the Christmas period wreaked upon our bodies.

When I was younger New Years Eve was a big thing, but I haven’t really bothered with it since the dead duck that was the Millennium festivities in Halifax at the end of 1999.  At most, since that time it has been a visit to the local pub to see in next year. Having children does have a bearing on this, but it is as much apathy towards the event which is the primary contributor.  New Years Eve is as much about the people you are with as about the place you are at. There has been a trend over the last decade and especially since the recession started in 2007 to have parties at home or a friends house.

New Years Eve used to be an excuse for clubs especially and some greedy pubs to charge over the top money at the door and bar throughout the evening, however this aspect of the evening has pretty much disappeared in the current financial climate with any customer income being welcome. However it should be noted that even back then, the good pubs and most locals generally tried to cover their extra staffing costs for extended hours and enhanced staff salaries only regarding the door charge and generally added some value to the evening for the entrance fee, usually via entertainment or food.

In fact many “big dates” for pubs and clubs seem to be waining in their popularity, in Halifax town centre there were 2 dates in particular that are well know in the town, “Mad Thursday” – the Thursday preceeding the Easter bank holiday and “Mad Friday” – the last Friday before xmas.   I remember most pubs were absolutely rammed on these days in the early to mid 2000s when I did these evenings myself, and the queues to get into the clubs got ridiculous, however talking to people who still go down to town on these days, the pubs can cope relatively easily and the clubs are not anywhere as busy as before.   This decline is systemic of the general downturn in the last 5 years.

At this time of year it is traditional to look back at the previous year and when looking back at 2011, it has generally been a good one for Calderdale pubs.

This year was when Halifax finally caught up with its smaller neighbouring towns and could finally be called a destination again for real ale drinkers.  The traditional haunts of the Three Pigeons and Pump Room were joined by the Ring O’Bells in late 2010, with Dirty Dicks and Lewins opening this year to give a real ale presence in the town centre again.  Along with Stuart, who edits me at Pubpaper, we created a Halifax Real Ale Mile this year, taking in 5 pubs skirting the bottom of the town centre towards the Shay stadium, all stops en route being ale pubs at their heart.  It is the first time in over 5 years such a link up has been possible location wise.

The situation in Hebden Bridge is pretty much identical to last year pub wise, the Inn on the Bridge has now closed, although this was no real loss from a real ale front, but all the main players on the ale scene are still as they were a year ago.

The rapid growth in new ale pubs in Sowerby Bridge has now settled down, with a couple of existing pubs on the main street becoming more ale focused being the peak of activity, not forgetting the relaunch of the Roxy club, with a small selection of real ales. The Puzzle Hall Inn coming back into regular service (although this started in 2010) is never a bad thing and is back into the live music scene with a bang now.

Hipperholme is very much as it was, but with 2 excellent ale houses in Travellers Inn and Cock of the North, while the same can be said about Brighouses’ ale scene with the Red Rooster and Ship Inn. Elland has also maintained its status quo, with the only major change being the change of ownership and refurbishment of the Barge and Barrel.

And on that note, I hope you have a fantastic 2012.