Tuesday 3 August 2021


 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 ......

And I was right to be optimistic, for Oddy's, Halifax (1869 / 3298) is one of those pubs which restores your faith in the local CAMRA branches.  For all Halifax's modern little beer bars and cafes, they still make room for the old and unpretentious.  The place has obviously been open a lot longer than since 12 noon, old gnarly faces of the past line every wall, the lighting is 'mood', and the landlady greets us warmly.  We plonk ourselves on a proper old bench seat, where some turtles (well, too big for terrapins was my assessment) are flapping aimlessly around a tank.  A hi-vis man plonks himself next to them, nodding at them respectfully.  Turtley awesome, as they say in 'Ull.  We are asked to sign a moth-eaten guestbook for Track & Trace purposes, which looks like it should have Grade II listed status itself.  When we notice not many of the names in the book have phone numbers next to them, the landlady explains they are all 'known' regulars so they are in her phone anyway.  It was that kind of pub.   A throwback.  Then, a crash, bang, wallop and who should appear but BRAPA legend of our past, Tom Irvin, or Clag Monster as you may know him.  He is sweating profusely, having marched uphill from Sowerby Bridge because he likes to make his life more interesting / get trains or track 'ticked off' for his own challenge.  This is the original BRAPA O.G Squad, though in the case of us three, probably stands for 'own goal'.  The landlady pulls up a pew by the hi-vis friend of the turtles, and the five of us chat amiably.  Plenty of ale on, not just the Doom, though my version of Citra has a weird sweetness I never got used to, Dad loved whatever he got.  Tom likewise with his Blackcurrant.    Top pub.       

I proudly tell Tom I've looked up a bus to take us back into the centre, but he's like "why waste money on a bus when you can march back sweating?" and whilst I appreciate his commitment to exercise, Daddy B and me have made up our minds.  

Our bus hurtles past him a few minutes later, we give him a nice little signal using some of our fingers.

Back in da centre, the 'Fax is now bustling with the lunchtime Saturday ravers, as we peer up looking for pub two, which this time, IS on Google Maps, but not exactly clearly pinpointed.  In doing so, I nearly collide with two lovely ladies doing the same thing, two more members of our gang for the day. Christine and daughter Lizzy.  

They've been shopping in Piece Hall (more on that later), as we enter the narrow passageway, which opens up into the lively Upper George, Halifax (1870 / 3299).  Resplendent in England Euro 2020/21 flags as Oddy's ceiling had been, the clientele are once more, reassuringly old school, lots of eye contact, nods and 'ayes' and 'eckie thumps' and 'how do pals' as I run the gauntlet, towards a table at the far end, where Chris (father of Tom) is seated, rosy cheeked, looking the picture of health and contentment.  My round I decide (because I have a tendency to forget and drink too slow as the day goes on so best to get in early and the whole round is under a tenner, almost half the price of my three pints in London recently!)   The world is mad.  Suddenly, a crash, bang, wallop, and Tom comes bounding into view, sweating from every orifice (probably).  I feel like we've been here before.  He repeats his assertion that I'd have been better off walking, but I flick my head back and ask him who looks more sweat-free and soothed at this moment in time.

As the Dropkick Murphys once reflected, 'the gang's all here', as we stride off towards the borough market in search of our next 'tick' the pre-emptive one, next to the Piece Hall where Lizzy had bought her vintage jacket (more on that later).  

It was originally known as the 'Peace Hall' until 1984 because it was so peaceful and calm as a place to wander around and browse at clothes, but then a kid wrote a 'piece' about his school trip to Eureka, which included a reference to Peace Hall, which he erroneously called 'Piece' Hall, silly boy.  This wasn't helped when Elvis Costello then covered '(What's so Funny 'bout) Piece Hall, Love and Understanding.   Well, as you can imagine, many lines got blurred, and the local residents of 'Fax had no choice but to rename it Piece Hall.  And that, is a BRAPA fact.  I was sober when I started writing this.

Here it was, with me and added Tom .....

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

No need

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 .....

The Exchange, Bradford (1872 / 3301) had atmosphere, and if I was a bit woolly by this point, maybe it was because we were now located directly underneath the Wool Exchange building of yore.  It was peaceful, nicely done out, carved cellary brickwork like York's Lendal Cellars before Jamie Oliver fucking fucked it up, which I seem to be saying a lot recently.  The tunes were good, bit of cheeky Teenage Fanclub and Granddaddy which is proper 5th pint music, and just had a nice gentle thrum, helpful staff and probably lots of other nice features you cannot expect me to remember being fifth pub of the day.   That's it.  Nice place.  Get over it.

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.  

I was aware however, that with The Lantern being closed, I had capacity for one more BRAPA tick.  And helpfully, I still had one to do in L**ds which would never have been the case if I was still working there.  The City of Sin was jumping with Saturday night chaos, it still wasn't 19th July remember but it felt like a proper back to normal L**ds City Centre maniacal scene.  Semi intimidating, you might say, as we walked the mean streets in the direction of our final tick.

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.

Take care, Si 


  1. Wonderful stuff. I did most of those in June/July as well, and when I did the Assembly the cask was, indeed, dreadful. "But they've got 50 (fifty) beers on draft" say the Beer Twitter bores...