If you've been, you'll know already, but the lovely West Yorkshire town of Halifax has become one of the top beer destinations in the country over the past five years. Despite receiving the inside track from Halifax #PubMan of the century, Chris Dyson, which led me to pre-emptives like the Meandering Bear and Kobenhavn last time I was there (both still to make their GBG debuts), the good book constantly throws up surprise new entries I've never heard of.
THREE more of the damn things appeared in the 2021 Good Beer Guide (plus an interesting sounding pre-emptive I'd got wind of on a Dyson blog). I'd have previously considered myself a bit of a Halifax pub expert. But I was wrong. And so are you. Keep reading to find out why you are so wrong.
On the grey, squally morning of Saturday July 10th, myself and Daddy BRAPA landed in the 'Fax. It was our annual 'Welly Gang' outing - which means that every July, our Hull City pre-match gang who used to drink in Hull's now defunct Wellington (in its 2007/08 hey day, possibly the best pub I've ever been in), all meet up for some summer fun. Of course I get to pick the pubs, BRAPA rules!
The 20-25 minute walk to the edge of town took us to the King Cross area (no ESB here), not many of our gang joined for this first one due to the location, plus the fact I'd seen a very limited selection of beer (Doom Bar only?) on Martin and maybe even Duncan's recent visits here.
Google Maps didn't seem to know the pub by name, which gave it an added air of old skool mystery. A nicely understated cobbled footpath led us to the back of the pub, plus two juicy Tetley's lanterns, gave me a good feeling about this one ......
So Dukes, Halifax divided opinion a bit within the group. Very bright and artsy, the worst thing you could do was compare it to the previous two, a real culture shock to the system, but the staff were chatty, the posters especially up by the loo with the great views down into the market proved that the place had a sense of humour. The Northern Monk was drinking exceedingly well, Tom couldn't get his regulation blackcurrant, his cranberry replacement was perhaps the least Tom looking drink in BRAPA history. The staff then helpfully told us Lantern (our next due GBG tick) had closed down two weeks ago, so that saved us the trouble of getting there and being disappointed, licking their lips and lining themselves up to be the replacement GBG 2022 entry?? Hmm, couldn't possibly comment.
Hebden Bridge time .... it felt the natural successor to this place. Another one of those towns that just manage to come up with a new Good Beer Guide entry year on year. I don't know how many times I've been now, but as a pedestrian leaving the station trying to negotiate your way to the pubs, it is still a right royal pain in the bum.
I'd donned my bucket hat for this one, you know the one with the cannabis leaves on I got for my #WWWSI challenge, thinking it was just a pretty floral design. I thought it'd help me blend in, for you probably all know by now that all Hebden Bridge inhabitants, if they aren't playing at being hemp weaving vegan lesbian buckfast ghosts, they like nothing more than a cheeky spliff.
But unlike the bird of the same name, it became immediately apparent that I wasn't going to blend seamlessly in to the Nightjar, Hebden Bridge (1871 / 3300), a pub I found quite irritating from the off, mainly due to the fact that everything was so needless. Me and Lizzy went to sit at an outdoor bench, Lizzy telling me Hebden was known as the 'Shoreditch of the North' these days, which makes a lot of sense. 'So, the Chorlton of the east?' I cheekily ask, knowing full well she's a proud C-c-H resident and cannot understand my dislike of the place. But where were the others? Ah, they'd been seated inside. 'Sorry, seems like the rest of us are inside lolz!' I tell a barmaid trying to serve us. She glares at me in the most shit on shoe way in 2021 GBG ticking history. In the dark indoors, we squash into a corner. There is a radiator halfway up the wall. Why? Quirkiness? 'Cos we all know heat ...... drops?' says Christine sarcastically which made me chuckle. In the gents, erotically stemmed taps despite the tiniest sinks ever. Worst of all, you have to concentrate every time you put your beer down. This isn't a table. It is a manicured piece of tree with holes in and weird edges. Bullshit. I know it sounds like little things, and I'm glad the beer was on decent form, but why do bars like this have to force the full 'quirk'? Pointless. The one highlight? I was allowed to try on Lizzy's unique vintage coat. Not sure it suits me, certainly didn't go with the hat!
|Dr Who Hebden Drug Chic was the look I was aiming for|
|Amazing name, but not my can!|
|The Irvin lads capturing my mood perfectly|
|Aaah happy with Dad, must be having more fun than I realsied|
|Just very silly|
Time to say bye to Lizzy who had cooler people to meet in L**ds, so the remaining five of went a few stops down the line to Bradford Interchange, where I had a 'tick' that had eluded me on vaccine day.
Coming out of the station, a group of Asian lads gave my bucket hat a bit of love, finally. Christine and Chris had both been students in Bradford, and reminisced on their old student haunts, many of which probably closed decades/centuries ago.
As we walked towards pub five, the church bells rang out 'Three Lions'. Wonderful, Euro fever really was gripping the nation, with the final on tomorrow. "I can't see how we won't beat Italy tomorrow" I confidently proclaim to Dad. Nice one Si, but it was starting to look like my lack of sobriety might be possibly affecting my judgement .....
|Beer from Armley, and they haven't even called it jail ale|
|Oh what an atmosphere|
Our chums were off for a curry as any sensible non-nut allergy sufferer would do in Bradford, so me and the Dadster headed back towards home.
Assembly Underground, Leeds (1873 / 3302) was the name, and doing a Manchester style development of street food, gin and this Vocation brewery bar all in one big space was the game. Leeds has been trying to be more Manchester ever since Trinity obliterated the centre, Whitelocks somehow thankfully surviving, though the second hand bookshop I bought my first ever Good Beer Guide from is sadly no more. But that's a story for another day. Mine and Dad's combined age of 116 trumped most tables of four, maybe even five, but there were no funny glances on behalf of them or the staff, even with my ridiculous hat, these twentysomethings are a properly accepting bunch, so only our own self consciousness was an issue. Packed out, luckily a bookish looking lady duo let us squeeze along their Pret a Manger style bench. The cask was dreadful, think a nice cool keg beer would've been a safer option. Dad wanted coffee, but couldn't get it, a coffee bar does exist, but not in the same space as Vocation. Lizzy was over yonder with three chums, so I waved and went over to say hi on way for a much needed wee. All in all, a bit of a funny one, but you gotta like the atmosphere here, a very happy cheerful place.
So that was that, back to Yoik, end of another very successful day which made me realise West Yorkshire completion is still very much on the cards before the 2022 GBG drops in mid Oct. More on that tomorrow at 9pm as we take a trip to Elland and others.