|The kind of toilet door locking fun you'd only get in a micropub.|
To say I work in Leeds where everybody has heard of Keighley, no one seemed to have heard of the little ale friendly town of Cross Hills. My working day went something like this:
"Oooh, do you mean Cross Gates?" "No!" "Oh, bless him, I think he means, Crossflatts, my train stops there!" "Arrrghh, FFS, NO!!"
Although I recently declared West Yorkshire "complete" in pub ticking terms, this felt like a WY night as I boarded the suffocating 16:26 train which didn't help by moving platforms at the last minute. A rainy windswept walk to Keighley bus station ensued, where I was just in time to board the 66 "across the county boundary stone" (as it was dramatically put to me by one local) into North Yorkshire.
Another wintery walk followed, the smell of silage and countryside hanging in the air as I found my pub tucked away over a bridge in an industrial estate (but easier to find than the Hipperholme equivalent).
This pub had been a bugger to try and visit over the last two years with it's "open only Friday 3-11" policy so I was glad to see extended opening hours in this year's GBG.
|Arriving at the Emporium of Delight|
It's amazing how cosy you can make a little industrial portacabin but I entered to a warm, friendly and welcoming thing where the two Mr Naylor's (one serving, one 'quality control testing') greeted me, asked what beer style I like (errrm, ALL of them) and I was soon enjoying a "Sizzler". I'm not one for standing/sitting at the bar as I generally find it intimidating and unhelpful but there are times when it is justified, and this was one of them. So I perched on a stool and managed to get the customary BRAPA explanation out there though they seemed a bit put out when I insisted they were part of North Yorkshire and not West. I've never been totally won over by Naylor's beers when sampling them elsewhere - even in York's Golden Ball (one of my all time favourite pubs) they've tasted distinctly average, but the Sizzler and my swift half of 1919 were superb. It started to fill up a bit, an elderly couple ordering pie and peas, even two local chav lads were friendly when they came in and struggled with the concept of peas in any form ("I'm allergic to anything green" one snarled in a half jokey, half "i'm going to murder you" way). The food smelt amazing and I wish I'd stayed now, but when baby Naylor crawled in and was cooed at by all the locals, I knew it was time to get moving.
|Sitting at the bar in Cross Hills|
Gallagher's Ale House, Cross Hills
You've got to treat all micropubs as a pre-emptive pub tick in the current climate and this newbie, only open since 18th December, was pretty much opposite my bus stop too so no reason not to go. It had all the usual hallmarks, a sparse but strangely welcoming and comfy feel, micro brew pumps lined up helpfully from "light to dark", helpful staff, quirky middle aged locals and a strange upstairs single loo shared with a hypnotherapy place next door (ok, so the last one is a new one on me). The main problem with Gallagher's was that it was so new, you could still smell the paint, which isn't great when you are trying to enjoy a 4.8% red ale from someone obscure in Bristol. The barmaid was American, a nice lady who reminded me of slimline Judy Bryant from Prisoner CBH and no, I don't expect any of you to get that reference either. I phoned Dad to send my birthday wishes, and before I knew it, time had raced on and it was bus time. I came away feeling the future of ale is bright in Cross Hills.
|Gallagher's in the gloom|
I'd been really lucky to get buses with less than 30 seconds wait in both cases, so as fate would have it, I was delayed over 40 minutes in Leeds for a train back to York as we had both "trespassing on the line" AND "a failed train". My hand was forced so I went for a MaccyD's and could only dream what might have been, with some Naylor's pies & peas!