Wednesday 25 March 2015

BRAPA - Elland, Huddersfield and Blacktoft

Hi all, a day off work and a return to the West Yorkshire Midweek challenge has made for a productive last couple of BRAPA days.

I did have to start though by removing one pub, the Pilot in Berwick-upon-Tweed.  I thought I'd been but doing the archives, I reckon it was a bar called Foxtons instead (not presently in the GBG), so I started one down at 604 ticks,

A train to Huddersfield from Leeds and connecting bus 503 (though I nearly slept through my stop!) got me into Elland at about 5:30pm.

605 - BARGE & BARREL, Elland - It was great to be back in WY after over three months off.  The main reason for the absence had been cat-sitting for my broken ankled sister, and ironically, this is a rare example of a BRAPA pub she'd already done - typical!  It was well worth the wait.  By a canal, it had a nice welcoming lounge area and circular bar, loads of beers on a blackboard, and a kindly landlord and locals made me feel at home.  I sat in a window overlooking the canal barges enjoying a pint of porter all the way from London's Five Points brewery - excellent stuff.  A lot of the pub chat was about the local pork pie range (they also did "dragon eggs", spicy scotch eggs) and all the chat made me hungry enough to get one to take away - topped with black pudding as the extremely limited edition peri-peri and ploughman's ones had gone.  The landlord even cling-filmed it at no extra cost(!), as I chatted to some of the local men about stout, porter and pub snacks.  Overall, a great pub experience.

Canal side porter at Elland's wonderful Barge & Barrel

606 - DROP INN, Elland - Unusual compared with a lot of Ossett pubs I'd been in recently, it felt more like a homely traditional pub than the more modern style Hop's of places like Leeds and Sheffield.  It had stone floors and a big fireplace so felt kind of like a country pub.  I noticed that aswell as the Ossett beers you'd expect, they also seem to have taken on the Rat beers now (I had a brown one) which I first noticed in Huddersfield's Rat & Ratchet many years ago.  My beer was quite lively and the barmaid offered to top it up even when I'd sat at my table and started sipping it,  It's nice touches like that you remember.  Whilst I didn't feel quite as welcomed here as at the B&B despite sitting in the front bar near some locals, it was still a well above average pub worthy of Guide inclusion.  

Good traditional Ossett pub fayre in Elland

Luckily my 503 bus back into 'Udders was a bit delayed to allow me plenty of time to get it, and as I munched on the black pudding pork pie I'd bought earlier, it was dark by the time I got to mynext pub, a short walk from the bus station......

607 - GROVE, Huddersfield - Highly anticipated for me, due mainly to it's legendary beer range, I wasn't disappointed as I entered to find a list of about eight regular beers and ten guests, all displayed on a blackboard supplemented by continental bottles and some of the modern keg variety.  Of course, I only had eyes for the handpumps and the friendly young barman offered me a taster of "devil's bilge water", a chilli stout so I only had a half (very powerful) and had a half a gorgeous pale a bit later on.  I got chatting to a nice chap from South London who told me he often just travels up to Huddersfield to come to great pubs like this.  Someone else told me York Tap was it's only equal in Yorkshire but for me, it's too simplistic to say a pub is great just based on beer range!  Still, as I didn't get out of the bar area here, it really was all about the beer here.  I was soon explaining BRAPA to the chap, who seemed genuinely interested (what's not to love?) and I gave him the address of this blog, which makes me even more determined to get some "business cards" made so I can give them to poor unwitting strangers, and raise my blog's profile further.  Come on! 

Possible atmospheric night vision shot of the magnificent beer palace, the Grove!

608 - STAR, Huddersfield - A further walk from the centre took me past the afore mentioned Rat & Ratchet to another gem of a pub, I really was spoilt for choice tonight.  Being off work the next day, I felt a late finish was more acceptable than would normally be the case.  I really loved this pub, proper no nonsense West Yorkshire with a big group of characterful friendly old chaps blocking the bar area.  As in the Grove, I had half a strong ale from the wonderful Five Towns brewery of Wakefield, and then a lighter one just before I left.  Although I didn't get chatting to anyone specific, the pub had an inclusive feel more like the Barge & Barrel and Grove, and it makes a point of being all about conversation and not "electronic devices", though I was checking my ales in on Untappd without being fined/told off!  

Late night pub joy at the Star Inn, Huddersfield

The train journey back was notable for being sat with a woman who had a 'condition' where she couldn't control her body temperature, then the heating on the train broke, and the poor Transpenine guards didn't really know how to handle the situation!  I had a quick York Tap pint, figuring I should make the most of my "holiday" before fish & chips and bed by midnight.

Fast forward 13 hours and after a round of golf with Dad, he kindly drove us to one of those "really difficult to get to" places for lunch.  This was the next alphabetical tick I needed for East Yorkshire.

609 - HOPE & ANCHOR, Blacktoft - This had come highly recommended by our football friend Christine, and we were thoroughly impressed, rating it even higher than the Greyhound in Riccall and believe me, that is an extreme compliment.  They had three interesting guests on (I tried them all), two from a new Skipton brewery called Greyhawk, and one from Half Moon of Ellerton which I keep seeing everywhere at present - I'm not complaining.  This was a very comfy pub, plenty of oldies eating in the conservatory so we just ate in more pubby bar area - the fish & chips (again!) were wonderful, pub clean, and although the barman had an element of "East European psychopath", I felt it was all a positive experience - just a shame it is so remote, Dad is already planning on taking Mum as they had six veggie options too.  A lovely garden looked amazing in summer, with views out across the river (which was very much the Ouse becoming the North Sea!) 

Me after a good feed and drink in the beer garden at Blacktoft


Well, I wish all midweek's could be so productive for the challenge.  After a quiet Feb and early March, I feel BRAPA is gaining real momentum again now.  Next up (Saturday) is my return to the Dales on Saturday via Northallerton and Bedale.  Only 4 pubs planned, but miles n miles of walking so I'll be dusting off the old walking boots.  

March will end next Tuesday with our next West Yorkshire trip - the first of three trips to Halifax.  This first one should be most straightforward, with three fairly central ticks.  

My April agenda will be finalised shortly.  We've got Swansea and Palace away, another Bedfordshire trip, another Dad day to a couple of remote East Yorkshire places and plenty more West Yorks midweek madness.  

It's also occurred to me I have my birthday week off work in early May but no BRAPA trips planned as yet, so I'll have to get my thinking cap on for a random day out, not too far away as train tickets will be expensive by now.  North East or other side of the Pennines are maybe my best bet.

For now, happy BRAPping everyone!


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