Thursday 24 September 2015

BRAPA - Saltaire & Shipley

Although Wednesday was my quarterly gig night (I write a review for the bank newsletter), the recent publication of the 2016 GBG meant I could get a couple of new BRAPA ticks without venturing too far from Leeds city centre.

An incredibly rammed 17:25 service eventually had me alighting at a grey and drizzly Saltaire, similar weather conditions as on my previous visit here in December 2013.  I always feel more guilty about drinking here than anywhere else as Sir Titus Salt (who built it for his workers) was a great believer in abstinence and it seems an insult to his legacy that alcohol can be sold here!

But I won't complain too much .....

691.  Hop, Saltaire

One of the ever growing number of modern Ossett 'Hops', this is as bright and shiny as they come but with perhaps a more homely ambiance than the ones in Sheffield and Leeds at least.  A big square high roofed barn of a building with big shiny glass windows, the barmaid was a friendly lass and got some top 'bantz' going with me by asking if it was raining as I seemed like a drowned rat (it was only spitting but my new Chinese leather jacket has that dramatic effect!)  I ordered a strong 6% IPA from Great Heck which was gorgeous, and sat on a high stool in amongst the rabble.  This consisted mainly of some mis-matched work colleagues having awkward after work drinks, the kind where someone laughs hysterically and then there is silence for next 5 minutes.  It was fun to watch their pain!  I then found out this pub used to be a tram shed, and things started to make more sense.  Like York's modern but atmospheric Hop, it also has a pizzeria attached and perhaps an upstairs you can get to, it was hard to tell.  Much recommended though as I painfully had to down the last few third of my IPA as my train awaited.

Another Ossett Hop to add to the collection.
In truth, I could have walked to the next pub (0.9 miles)  in pretty much exactly the same time it took me to get to Saltaire station, go 4 minutes to Shipley, and walk up the bank but I was feeling lazy and had to conserve energy for the gig.

692.  Fox, Shipley

It was all go in this small cafe bar when I arrived as they were celebrating their second birthday.  I ordered the 'birthday ale' to get into the swing of things, brewed by the seemingly never before heard of 'Beespoke' brewery.  The quirky barman was a nice chap but he asked me why I hadn't bought a present for the fox.  A girl at the bar then introduced me to the fox, Jesus, because "he looks down on you from high".  Though he looked pretty well stuffed to me!  Despite the hubbub of happy post-work drinkers, I commandeered a good sized table in the middle of the room and realised I'd have to drink this 5.1%er fairly speedily as well.  This was a BRAPA return to Shipley for me, having been here in June 2014 and it was nice to see traffic lights have now been invented in the town.  I was intruiged to see this not referred to as a "micro pub" (the buzz industry phrase of the moment), perhaps a little too big but that doesn't normally stop them.  Maybe it was having TWO toilets?  Perhaps they even did blackcurrant cordial.  I didn't have time to find out as my train back to Leeds was due in 7 minutes.  A very nice little addition to the West Yorks drinking scene.

The fox "Jesus" - it's my party and I'll cry if I want to. 
Back to Leeds then, down Call Lane and I quite enjoyed the Oporto venue.  Pre-emptive tick it wasn't, well actually you never can tell.  It was bottles only but there was a decent if extortionately priced selection.  The barman was helpful and I sampled Charles Wells DNA, Leeds Hellfire (which I didn't enjoy) and Anchor Porter from San Francisco at £5.50!   The bands were all good (Bulletproof Bomb, Viola Beach and Elephant Trees) and it was a good night all round.

A not very pre-emptive tick at Oporto, but give it 50 years! 

It is officially autumn, officially my favourite season of the year.  So what lays in store for BRAPA?

1.  On Saturday, Beck Hole, Grosmont (if open), Egton and Lealholm.  There was Danby potential but after last year's farce, I'm not going to rely on 4 train connections to 'make' with less than 10 mins between them, plus Tom suggested Danby had Middlesbrough away potential.  I just hope Grosmont comes good.  I had contemplated Whitby's remaining two but it might be nice to combine these with the two in Robin Hood's Bay at a later date.  

2.  Next midweek night should see my second trip of the year to Hebden Bridge with Mirfield potential.  No reason why I can't crack on with Tuesday midweek WY BRAPA's throughout October.

3. Nottingham Forest a week on Saturday, am going to bring it down to three pre-match pubs as I felt 4 was too ambitious with the walking / time allowed.  Sir John Borlase Warren, Falcon Inn and Organ Grinder - all very close together which is good, all 12 noon openers not so great so may have to join the BRAPA Crapper for one in VAT & Fiddle.  Newshouse potential after the game.  

4.  Dad is back in 'East Yorkshire' chauffeur role on the 10th as I start to tick off the first two of the remaining 5 which have now reappeared since the 2016 GBG was published.  I'm going to a wedding evening do on this day, could the new Headingley tick be a good place to meet the four ladies I'm going with?  Would they mind?  Do I even care?   

5.  Sheff Wed we are boycotting so Loxley, Hillsbrough Hotel and a couple of others Kelham Island way looks good for that one.  However, am feeling the Isle of Axholme thing I'd arranged with Tom on the Sunday may be a step too far and probably will give it a miss. 

6.  The 24th sees part VIII of my Bedfordshire trip, this time using Bedford as a base (where I have a new pub to do) and then bussing to villages like Renhold, Felmersham, Sharnbrook and the like.  Depends how many I can squeeze in for time.  Will need some serious planning for that one. 

7.  I've booked a couple of days off for a pre-Hallowe'en spooky BRAPA date (watch this space), 

8.  And finally, a horror show trip to MK Dons.  Could I be cheeky and ask that we cross the border into Beds to get the vital Salford tick?  Unless I do it on 24th.  To be fair, there 2 or 3 MK pubs to do anyway so should be fine, but will need a chat with Dad.

So as you can see, plenty to keep me going.  I was getting a bit disillusioned around GBG publication time, but I've very much got my BRAPA mojo back now and October could be a very productive month, though September will take some beating!  



  1. Not another bloody leather jacket!

  2. The 17:25 White Shite - Skipton is notorious. You can see in your photograph a tramline leading to the Hop. There is also a tram depot converted to a pub in Tooting which used to be in the GBG, I'm not sure if it still is so Hop is not unique in this regard.

    I wonder if Beespoke brewery brew a honey beer? It is clearly a deliberate pun in their name, I'm just struggling to work out why.

    If a pub has a decent sized table in the middle of the room, then it isn't a micropub. If you come to Cleethorpes, I will happily take you to what I consider a micropub, but it isn't in the guide and these days probably isn't much less pre-emptive than the Oporto (what is the Portuguese connection here - coincidence or other?). I am glad you at least recognise the latter as a theoretical pre-emptive.

    If you are in a position to do Danby, then I would do it. So long as you make the last train back down the branch (if the outward runs the return will barring the unit bursting or the guard being arrested in the supermarket at Whitby) then you are fine, if the +10 are Middlesbrough doesn't make there will be another move out or if you have a through ticket it will become a railway taxi job.

    I'm amazed that Sir John Borlase Warren is a 12:00 opener. It sounds so much like a 'Spoons it is incredible. I will send an email confirming movements. Are you not boycotting then?

    Don't worry about Isle of Axholme. One year it will fall on a date so that the Saturday isn't an attractive away game to make it a little easier. We'll see how many we can do in Kelham Island, you will probably only want to do one so as to be on a tram back down the hill before full time. Have you researched potential for the way home to get you above 3 for the day. Mexborough seems obvious, I'll let you do the research. Feel free to ask if I think anything different is doable.

    1. Yes Dad, £18 from a Mr Wong in Hong Kong, bargain!

      Tom I too was amazed the Sir John BW isn't a 'Spoons. I really thought I'd cracked the early opener conundrum. NOT boycotting this one.

      I forgot about the journey back from Sheff but providing we don't get caught up by football idiots, Mexborough sounds ideal.

      I think I will leave Danby as there are too many ways I can get stranded if I push it, I had no phone reception in Castleton last year for example!

      Remember beer in hand in Hereford? Micro pub! But don't ask me how. I agree they should all be one small square room, Cardiff's Gravity Station was a good example.

      Thanks for understanding re Axholme, let's hope it falls better next year.

    2. If you bought the coat from Mr Right, would it have been £38? Sorry.

      My plan is to avoid football idiots by leaving Sheffield sufficiently early. The only ways it can fail are if the game is abandoned or if City are so spectacularly rubbish that loads of people leave early, like at Barnsley. I admit with these holes it is a really crap plan.

    3. So long as you are on that last train down the branch, you are fine. You could always take a printed map as plan b.

      Beer in Hand is a pub. Nothing micro about it. The marketeers are wrong in the same way that the Queen is wrong to say that Sunderland is a city.

    4. Re event 3 (Nottingham Forest):
      May I quote the following from the Code of Conduct:
      "avoid "additional pre or mid BRAPA drinks". Football ground pre match or half time? No! 20 mins to spare in train station with real ale pub before you're first tick? No! "
      Does this rule out VAT & Fiddle at 11:00 on the grounds of it being a pre-BRAPA drink? It almost comes under railway station with real ale pub also. Is there an 11:00 pre-emptive to get around this?

    5. You always make me think Tom. It might feel a wasted opportunity plus it is so good, it might be hard to get Dad, Christine and co to leave as well as Ben. I might have found something, see link:

      Could be worth a try? Si

  3. I reckon that fits the bill. I notice that it serves meals at 07:00 but doesn't open until 11:00. Do you reckon the latter is the time they serve alcohol. I'll let you send the email, you know what time you get in and your other pub details, I wouldn't want to get anything wrong. I shall tailor my pub arrival time accordingly as I shall be paying my fare on the train.

    If Ben enters the VAT & Fiddle, which he will, he won't leave until 14:30. The others could go either way.

  4. Weird that, unless they are counting the Starbucks section too as the 7am opening bit! 11am alcohol for sure. VAT & Fiddle is superb though, I can't blame Ben really for choosing it (quite ironic cos if you read my archives on VAT & Fiddle, I always wanted to stay but the Andrew's moved us on to somewhere less good, mentioning no gimmicky student holes with a canal running through them!)

  5. I don't like pubs where all the tables are for large groups, particularly if they're small and you then feel very self-conscious and want to drink quickly. So much to dislike about micros. Sam Smith pubs never seem to have that problems; loads of space for lone drinkers.

  6. I'm kind of so intrigued by the whole Micro pub thing, I can't dislike them yet, but ask me again when I've visited my 1000th GBG one in 2030 and I might have a VERY different opinion, some have been rather limp. I really didn't like Newark at all, but then loved Carnforth, loved Beer in Hand in Hereford in summer (probably because it's not micro in size, only in every other factor!) but more recent ones like Wolverhampton, Nottingham have been a bit 'lacking' something, can't quite put my finger on but I have to say, give me an Ebor in Bishopthorpe every time!!