Wednesday 30 September 2015

BRAPA - Battle of the Bridge (Hebden v Sowerby)

The West Yorkshire Midweek BRAPA trail is showing no signs of slowing anytime soon as we cracked on with three more valuable ticks on Tuesday night, and as if to signify Autumn is now officially upon us, I was ticking "after dark" for the first time in the 2016 GBG season.

I'd been to Hebden Bridge in June for a third time, but I was off to deepest West Yorks once more as it had a new tick, a pub described someone at work as "real" and one of my top BRAPsters as "cute".  It was time to investigate the truth ......

697.  Fox & Goose, Hebden Bridge

At the bottom of the steep climb to Heptonstall, it was a fair 10-15 mins from the station but worth the trek, and mercifully not too uphill as my legs still hadn't recovered from Saturday's "jaunt".  Now run by the community, a big CAMRA success story, this pub actually featured in the 2015 GBG errrm features so maybe I was a bit silly to ignore the obvious pre-emptive signs.  It was lovely and old, very much the traditional blueprint of what I've come to expect on my midweek travels, with a few little rooms off to the side but a focal bar with a few jolly locals seamlessly chatting with staff, they probably swap roles on a daily basis.  I was immediately engaged in conversation with a grey bearded old man - he smelt a bit funny so we sat across the room from each other and he disapproved of my decision to drink the new red Ossett Ale "Victoria" as he lied to me and claimed he brewed one of the other beers in his own bathtub!  We were soon onto subjects like banks, PPI, scams and this organically evolved into conversations about fish, steampunk and (at my insistence) the weather!  But the pub really did feel like the place where strangers would chat to each other, and other locals came in and out saying "hi" and "bye" as though I was a regular.  The man was more interesting than your average old man drinker, though he didn't bat an eyelid about my BRAPA challenge and had very short term memory loss.  Still, I'd had enough of 'chat' after a long day at work and left hastily!

Arriving at community run favourite, the Fox & Goose
I had time before my train for a swift half in the Old Gate.  On 30th June, I commented I'd like to see this as an indoor venue and it was more to my liking.  The barman was very friendly, perhaps a bit too OTT with the "what style beers do you like", and there was a bit of a dog and baby love in, and a mad moment where a tiny dog tried to attack a huge lumbering one, but this is a good place.

A few minutes on the train back towards Leeds found me in Sowerby Bridge for a third BRAPA trip.  The original plan had been to go to Hebden Bridge's new micro pub Calan's but I made the school boy error of not realising it was closed Mon and Tue so a trip to SB seemed to suddenly make more sense than the remaining Mirfield tick......

698.  Works, Sowerby Bridge

I'm a positive person, and my previous trips to Sowerby have both been first class.  The people, the pub staff, the locals, a very friendly and pretty town.  But I'm not stupid, I knew something less perfect was bound to lie below the surface.  Somewhere where the wankers hang out.  And by jove I think I found it here!  I really despised it, and it sounds harsh now in the cold light of day, I can't quite put my finger on why.  Maybe it was entering the building, cackling women outside or the middle aged woman who turned 180 degrees exorcist-esque to see who I was, and then span her skull back towards the bar.  Or maybe it was the barmaid, who looked at me with twisted contempt and reminded me of an awful woman I used to work with, we'll call her Vicky Bastard just for poetic effect.  Or was it the fact that this was a huge barn of a building, previously a joinery, where the locals (inbred Tim Taylor drinkers) insisted on huddling together blocking the bar, when the amount of empty space on offer was ridiculous.  And if this wasn't enough, a huge sweeping staircase leads to glass door which acts as a "function room" with the claim "a great place to do business over a drink".  And then two dogs were unleashed and the simpletons all gawped as these two out of control hounds ran amok.  At least a young Patrick Kielty thanked me as I put my glass back on the bar (Miss Bastard was chatting to friends), never to return.  What a load of old rubbish!  Yet, I can see why it's in the Guide.  BUT Puzzle Hall every single time for me.

Locals and idiot dog cram the bar at the Works.
Dusk had fallen now over Sowerby Bridge and I was back at the railway station, at another pub I'd seen twice and thought "hmmm, pre-emptive?" but then ignored my instincts.  Now it's GBG listed.

699.  Jubilee Refreshment Rooms, Sowerby Bridge

Ahhh, this was more like it, no inclusivity here.  Simply a bored young bar man desperate for customers to make his evening go quicker.  4 old locals on a circular table in one corner, and one nervous looking couple nearer the bar.  A very basic but pleasing place, not just a pub, a bit like Carnforth station and the Sheffield Tap mixed together.  I saw sweets, cake, and even a quite amazing range of teas that would put my window display at work to shame!  Oh, and they had 3 or 4 beers on so I had the gorgeous fruity Rainbow one from Elland which I enjoyed at Castleford last year.  A big banner proclaimed they were celebrating the building's 175th anniversary.  Take that Fox in Shipley!   Apparently, it took 12 years to get permission to make this a pub - and worth the wait it is if you are ever passing this way.  There was some cooked food but unpretentious looking, a "Turkey Lurker" whatever the 'eck that is - sandwich perhaps?  The place had a great musty pub old building smell too, and after the traumas of the Works, it was nice to see Sowerby Bridge has still got it! 

The basic almost tea room / post office / tourist info style entrance to Jubilee.

So then, almost back to the 700 mark which will happen in Nottingham on Saturday and this time, it won't be a Wetherspoons that used to be a Clydesdale Bank Headquarters, I can almost guarantee you of that!  But the plans for that day keep evolving, so keep your ear to the ground and I'll look forward to giving you a Nottingham report on Sunday. 

As for West Yorkshire, Horbury Bridge is up next - a midweek Heavy Woolen trip next Tuesday?  I think I can combine it with Middlestown and feel I should probably invite Richard and Jason from work as they've been integral to the previous two BRAPA trips out here.  

See you soon, Si


  1. Would you be surprised if I said that in a strange sort of way I really want to go to Works now? The locals sound bizarre.

    I've always had Jubilee in mind. Indeed, it has been suggested by me for Welly days out before. Can we pencil it in for 2048 post BRAPA Welly day out?

    I'm looking forward to seeing the Nottingham evolutions. Elton & Orston is a complete bugger to do, so much so that I think a Saturday boycott day is the most sensible way to do it. I will put meat onto the bones of the plan when I know of the developments. If you let me know which way you are returning also, it may add in an idea.

    So, end of September on 699. Target for the year 750. 51 to get in 3 months,
    that is 17 per month. It's most definitely on. Come on City. BRAPA Army!

  2. Great post.Yes, I really want to go back to the Works as well. You're spot on, though think the Shepherd's Rest up the hill as good as Puzzle. Firehouse confused me too. Can you imagine a London suburb of this size having beer this good though ?.

    Fox & Goose is the Hull City of the Beer Guide; clearly brilliant but dropping out of the Premier League for inexplicable reasons. Brilliant beer, but very smelly which I hoped was the dog.

    Hebden has the Trades Club, where I've seen great music and had good beer. That pub at Heptonstall is worth the walk/taxi as well, lovely cobbled village.

    The previous post on micros is too dull to comment on, sorry.

    1. I think us 3 need to go to Works as part of my 63rd birthday celebrations in "unfinished business" week after Ivy House. Sowerby Bridge truly is cracking for pubs. I felt a bit "on display" in Shepherd's Rest though.

      Good analogy, the dog must be Ehab Allam. Yes, up that same cobbled hill is Heptonstall, gawd I was sweating buckets when I did that one in summer of '14 but worth it, great pub, lovely barmaids. People keep telling me about this "Trades", oh and 'Calan's' talking of Micros!