Skip to main content

Posts

Comebacks and Restarts....

Things are certainly not easy at the moment in the world of pubs and beers, but even amidst a difficult and uncertain backdrop, it is heartening to discover that there are still some good news stories.... We have become used to hearing about pubs and breweries closing down ( only in the past couple of days it has emerged that long-established Cornish brewers Skinners have called in the administrators ), but even in these difficult times there are still some good news stories about that lift the spirits and gladden the heart. In the last few days, news broke that a much-loved brewery that had closed earlier in the year has been bought and will start brewing again, whilst I have been along to a couple of pubs that for different reasons had closed, but have re-opened in recent months, reinvigorated and raring to go.   Shockwaves were felt across Sheffield and way beyond the South Yorkshire city when the closure of the much-loved Kelham Island Brewery due to financial pressures was announc
Recent posts

Mills and Micros: A Trip To Oldham....

I recently took a short trip across the Pennines to visit one of the largest towns in Lancashire and check out some of the pubs in an area with a rich and fascinating history. Here's what I found.... Oldham doesn't generally get a load of great press these days, but I have to say I have always had some affection for this former cotton town which sprawls across a large area to the north east of Manchester before it climbs towards the Pennine hills. A proud town, with solid roots borne out of the Industrial Revolution, the mills and associated industries that grew up around them gave the town some heft in the 19th and well into the 20th century. For a time, it was the world centre for cotton manufacturing: in 1871 the town had more spindles than anywhere else in the world other than the United States but having reached its peak in the 1920's with up to 360 mills in operation, the industry began a slow decline through the rest of the 20th century, although it continued to attr

Vikings on the Knavesmire....

I went to York Beer Festival the other day, only a few days after visiting the lovely but very small beer festival at The Blue Pig near Hebden Bridge. It was a much grander affair with around 450 beers available over the forthcoming days, so you approach it from a different point of view. Here's my thoughts, along with some other bits of news and other stuff.... A guy nonchalantly rode through the huge marquee passing the bar on a bicycle. Meanwhile, an earnest CAMRA member was trying to welcome a group of us to judge some of the beers available at the festival, but his efforts were, initially, in vain, as one thing or another distracted him from what we thought was his main purpose here. Next up, a low loader pulled up across the way to collect some key kegs which appeared to be empty. And then a group of guys dressed in medieval-style peasant dress armed with Viking drinking horns and a flag marched through the marquees bellowing a football-style shout of  "Rud-ga-ate"

The Blue Pig Beer Festival....

I faced another weekend where circumstances beyond my control brought about a change of plan. This week, instead of watching football on Saturday afternoon, I disappeared into a lovely, wooded valley just outside Hebden Bridge in order to visit a small beer festival at a unique institution.... Early last Friday morning, I received a reply to an unanswered message I had sent to my mate John earlier in the week, to be shortly followed by another from him saying he was thinking of going along on Saturday to a beer festival being held at the Midgehole Working Men's Club, a couple of miles outside Hebden Bridge, and did I fancy it? I said I would let him know as at that point I was planning to attend the National League game between Halifax Town and Dorking Wanderers at the Shay, with Town seeking their first home win in what has been a troubled start to the season. However, shortly afterwards news broke that all football from the Premier League down to the grassroots had been cancelled

Checking Out Chorlton....

After my original plans were scuppered, I took a trip to a vibrant and bustling suburb a few miles to the west of Manchester city centre and found  a group of bars, including some crackers which are well worth checking out. Here's what I discovered.... If my original plan had come off, I would have been telling you a completely different story about last week's wander. I had found out the previous night that Transpennine were running one cross-country train an hour in each direction through Brighouse, thus opening up the travel opportunities to far-flung places like Newcastle, Liverpool, and Scarborough for us locals. I had booked a trip the night before, but I had hardly taken a bite out of my sausage butty at the Station Cafe next door to Brighouse station when Trainline sent me a message saying that my train had been cancelled with barely 15 minutes to go before it was due. Surely they must have known when the train didn't set off from Manchester? So I had to replan. Whe

The Last Hurrah....

The announcement last week that the energy price cap was going up by 80% for domestic users from October has caused widespread panic and alarm, but what are the implications for pubs and other businesses, who are offered no cap on their bills. With a host of other pressures on their running costs, there is a lot to be concerned about.... A few people have come up to me since I published last week's blog, commenting on the fact that I'd revealed I had paid £2.70 for a half of Boltmaker in a Timothy Taylors pub on the Yorkshire moors. Now, as I mentioned at the time, that was in a pub which is more food-focussed, but it did invoke a sense of shared outrage and disbelief from those who spoke to me about the price I had been charged. Sadly though, that sort of price and beyond is likely to become the norm over the coming months as our breweries and pubs brace themselves for the impact of higher energy bills that will make the average domestic bill look like loose change. According