In the world of Calderdale real ale, there are names which people recognise as the old guard of the scene, those pubs who have built a reputation over many years for consistently good beers,  Puzzle Hall Inn (despite a short period of closure), Three Pigeons, Pump Room and Red Rooster all being good examples.  However some people favour the new contenders, in some cases they have re-animated the ghost of a once great pub like the Ship Inn’s rejuvenation and what Dirty Dicks did to the old Royal Oak.  In other cases people have transformed pubs or buildings which had no real recent history of being an ale house (or even a pub) and turned them into real ale destinations which is exactly what has happened to the Jubilee Refreshment Rooms, Works and Lewins.

One of the old guard, the Red Rooster near Brighouse, has been owned by Eddie Geater for the past 10 years, a man who only recently handed back his award for “Most Understated Range Rover (West Yorkshire Section)” after several years of dominance in the competition.  During his time he has owned or held the lease for nearly 30 pubs at any one time, this figure currently reduced to 20.  His other most notable property in area is the Barge and Barrel, Elland which was took over last year.  For a long time the Rooster was a place that always had some of the lesser known breweries in the cellar, but over recent years it has held a regular rotation from a smaller set of still high quality brewers.

The day to day management of the Rooster is now in the hands of Chris Shippey, a 29 year old from Otley who has spent over half his life involved in the pub trade, from glass collecting at the age of 14 upwards.  Returning from travelling the world 8 years ago, part time bar work lead eventually to him managing the Black Horse pub and Rocca Cocktail Bar in his home town.    His path to running the Red Rooster started when Eddie took over the Shoulder of Mutton in Hebden Bridge and he and an associate took over the day to day responsibilities.   An initial focus of the ale side of the business didn’t last long and soon he was running the pub on his own.  This stage of his career only lasted 6 months and at the start of the year he moved to the Brighouse pub.  The brief stop over in Hebden Bridge was a pub which focused on a solid range of the more mainstream ales, his current home allows more experimentation.

His love of ale wasn’t there from a young age, but was fostered by covering the occasional shift at the Junction in Otley, one of the more well known ale houses in the town. Starting with the “gateway” ales he then went to the dark side with a penchant for stouts, but recently has moved over to the hoppier, lighter beers.  It is a brewery with a very big reputation for just these beers which has seen the Rooster become a local destination in the last month. The brewer responsible for these beers is Magic Rock of Huddersfield, with Rapture, Highwire and Curious as part of their core products in this style, as well as the very highly rated Dark Arts Black IPA for the darker beer fan. All beers I personally think are excellent and packed with flavour, a view shared by Chris himself.

Chris wants to make a big statement and bring people different beers, and for an area that sees little, if any beer from this brewery, bringing 5 beers and consistently serving them for a month has certainly made that statement.  The pub sold nearly 1200 pints in just 2½ weeks when it first went on the bar.  Their brews took a significant share of the beer sold, and brought customers both old and new back into the pub once word spread, myself being one of this number.  On the back of this success, it is now hoped to get Magic Rock Curious, a 3.9% beer with far more flavour than should be in a beer its strength as a house beer.

Not content with one brewer from the area, he now hopes to further raid the outskirts of Huddersfield and bring in some of the excellent beers from the Summer Wine and Mallinsons stables, with locality helping maintain quality.  With the likes of Diablo and Espresso from the former and the single hop beers from the latter, return visits are going to be worthwhile to the Red Rooster again.   As well as this he has got short run barrel swaps from the southern end of the country arranged, so further variety ensues, all on top of a solid range of regular beers from Yorkshire.

The old guard is going new skool, with that, happy supping until next week.