Wednesday 1 April 2015

BRAPA - Halifax

View out on t'hills as I arrive into Halifax

March ended with a trip to Halifax, a town which in the 2015 Good Beer Guide has grown arms and legs with loads of surrounding villages etc all now in the "Halifax" bracket.  For this first of three trips, I kept it simple and visited the three most central.....

613 - CROSS KEYS, SIDDAL - Siddal appears to be a place in it's own right, and after a brisk healthy stroll in the evening sun from the railway station to a more leafy area, I was at the pub by 5:30pm.  I was greeted by Poppy the dog, who was quite fussy and I glad I didn't have food on my person!  The range of ales was excellent, and I was intrigued by the Abbeydale Black Mass, a 6.66% stout can you believe?  Well, the jovial landlord told me it was a "session ale", I definitely didn't believe that but went for a pint anyway based on it being a Tuesday.  According to the Guide, this pub was a shit hole til the current owners took it over in late 2012 (I'm paraphrasing them) and it had a superb ambiance, the locals very Yorkshire, the pub very down to earth, it was my pub of the night.  A man declared his love for Victoria Wood "hit me on the bottom with a women's weekly" and then told an enchanting tale about how on a stag do in Blackpool, he walked out on a Roy Chubby Brown routine cos he hated it that much.  Some kids helping their Mum celebrate a pre-40th birthday do didn't really spoil the hubbub, but then it darkened up outside and started snowing.  It's April tomorrow I thought, flippin 'eck!  It soon turned to sleet and subsided so I went on my way as a woman told me each regular has a designated seat in the pub - a minefield for visitors like me!

Before the snow came : a jewel of a pub in Siddal

614 - DIRTY DICK'S FOOD & ALE EMPORIUM, Halifax - As I'm now officially a pub heritage geek, I was highly anticipating my next pub (made with timbers from HMS Newcastle, 1931)  but it was hard to get a true picture of it's inner beauty and features with so many rugged 'Fax locals drinking and looking a bit intimidating.  Whilst this was again a no nonsense drinkers pub, it didn't quite have the same friendly charm of the Cross Keys - rural vs town centre perhaps the reason.  I felt like a real tourist when I asked for a pint of the locally brewed 'Dirty Dick's' at the bar.  They also did a lager of the same name so when I was given the choice and said "ale", a drunk local in a funny hat said "told ya" to his mates - still, a compliment I look more like an ale than lager drinker.  I'll have to wear my tracksuit and stick on tats next time! I sat in the quiet backroom to try and get a sense of the heritage element in a big wooden settle style seat.  I just felt more isolated.  My DD ale was, okay.  The young barman seemed to be a bit of a practical joker, and he "hanged" a teddy bear to the doorframe which belonged to a barmaid (India?  Surely not her real name!) but she didn't look too mortified.

Wasn't quite feeling the heritage lovin' at Dirty Dick's.
615 - BARUM TOP, Halifax - Pinned in totally the wrong place on my GBG App, I finally found this pub as the wind and rain whipped up a storm again.  It was a Wetherspoons but didn't look like it from the outside, more traditional than that but a vast indoor space was very Spoonsy (it used to be a garage).  I saw the award winning 1872 Elland Porter but after that Black Mass in the first pub, I went for a lighter Goose Eye beer which had just gone on, and it was very well kept and easily drinkable (just as well as I had a train back to Leeds not too far off).  I noticed an upstairs area and thought "I hardly ever get upstairs BRAPA drinking experiences" so shinned it up the stairs but every single seat was taken, mainly with what seemed like the whole of 'Fax having a nice cheap dinner.  So I came back down the other side, perched on a stool and pretended to be interested in the pre-election coverage.  A girl who looked Eastern European was also having a drink on her own and my vague thoughts of joining her with dashed when she vanished quicker than the eye could see - maybe a ghost mechanic who got killed in the old garage?  The 'Spoons reminded me of the one in Brighouse combined with one in the Isle of Wight,  I can't say fairer than that!

It was more 'Spoons in than out!

I made my train easily and was back in Leeds for a Burger King, and York for a fairly early finish considering.  I'll be back in the Halifax area (Hipperholme to be precise) for our next midweek BRAPA trip.  Thanks for listening.

My last tango in Halifax - terrible pictorial joke on train back to Leeds.


This is how drunk I was in Far From the Madding Crowd, Oxford (see below closed pub news)
  • No news on my "business" cards yet.  Come on, I'm getting impatient already!  Not that I'll have much use for them this Saturday in Swansea.
  • Sad to hear of another BRAPA pub closure.  Far From the Madding Crowd, Oxford wasn't making enough money so they closed it.  It had only opened in 2002 which made it very new by Oxford standards.  It was my 6th pub in Oxford last September, yes I was quite drunk but enjoyed my pint of Acorn Helga, the regulars and staff seemed a happy bunch and it's my opinion that it's weird location is the main reason it didn't attract enough custom.  Yes, I was drunk but walked around in circles looking for that Friars Entry!
  • The Heavy Woolen Tour is back!  Yes, after last June's success, me and some work friends are having a six pub Saturday in Ossett, Horbury, Thornhill and Overton near where they live - all in the name of BRAPA.  The date we have in mind is 30th May.  As a result, Horbury will be taken out of "midweek WY BRAPA consideration" as it is due up soon.  
  • And finally, my April agenda is finalised.  It doesn't look the most stunning month in BRAPA terms but hopefully some better weather and cracking on with Tuesday evenings will help, as BRAPA celebrates it's 1st anniversary on Sunday.

Sat 4th - Swansea away day
Tue 7th - Halifax II : Hipperholme
Sat 11th - "Dad day" inc Ellerton & Sutton upon Derwent
Tue 14th - Halifax III : Bradshaw & Swalesmoor
Sat 18th - Bedfordshire III - outer Bedford villages
Tue 21st - Heath
Sat 25th - Crystal Palace away day
Tue 28th - Hebden Bridge (w/ Cragg Vale)

(all dates subject to change as usual!)

  • We achieved 25 pubs in March - a good effort in the end ... 16 of them in the last 10 days!  April I predict will be more like 20, even that might be a stretch.
See you later on, Si

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