Skip to main content

The Beers of Summer

This last few weeks I have enjoyed some fine beers, quite often against a backdrop of warm, sunny weather.

We had a trip to Manchester a few weeks ago, which involved negotiating some of the wonderful pubs in the Northern Quarter. The weather was hot and sunny, which meant we were able to sit out at the Angel and the Marble Arch, and enjoy a stand in the lovely yard at the back of Bar Fringe. We sampled some superb beers from the likes of Marble, Hawkshead, and Salopian. The beer of the trip for me though was Duel from Blackjack, which was on offer at their tap, the Smithfield on Swan Street. We also visited the Micro Bar in the Arndale Centre, where I had it confirmed that Boggart, who had been brewing in the city since 2000, had closed down. Sad news, but a reminder that despite the boom in new breweries there is another side to the picture. Sadly, Boggart fell behind as some of these new breweries, even just in Manchester, came along with beers that were more in keeping with the big flavours demanded by the generation of new ale drinkers - breweries like the afore-mentioned Blackjack, Track, and Squawk.

Despite the warm, at times hot, weather, the football season is now with us and Halifax Town are back in the National League North after relegation last season, which means there are some fine, reasonably local trips, to look forward to. We kicked off with the traditional pre-season friendly at Brighouse, handy for me of course. Pre-match we went to the Cock of the North at Hipperholme, home of the Halifax Steam Brewery. This is a unique place, a pre-fabricated building which took a long time to gain planning permission when it was proposed by previous owner Dave Earnshaw. Now in the safe hands of Sam, ably supported by brewer Richard, this is a pleasant place to while away an hour or two. Outside there is a lovely beer garden, and alongside is a small caravan site. And at the August Bank Holiday weekend, they have their Rock of the North event, with a beer festival and live music. Well worth checking out.

The season proper started at Nuneaton, which in itself has not a lot to attract the casual visitor. But a mile or two out of town we visited an excellent pub, the Lime Kilns at Burbage, just outside Hinckley. This is on the A5, so easy to find, and alongside the Ashby Canal, and we headed for the large canalside beer garden where we enjoyed some fine beers from the Marstons stable and some excellent home-cooked food as several barges passed by. It was a perfect summer's day, helped by Town's subsequent 3-2 win.

During this week we were at Stockport, where I decided as I only work a few miles away, I would stay over. That afforded me the chance to try one or two local pubs that I hadn't been in before. Stockport is a wonderful town for pubs and the home of Robinsons Brewery, but even though I had spent a lot of the time in the town when I was younger, I hadn't visited the town or the football club for years. I stayed at the Premier Inn beside the Buxton Road and from there it was just short of a mile to the football ground. I walked to the Fairway, which is in the Beer Guide. Pleasant enough, but a bit lacking in character. From there I headed to the Armoury at Shaw Heath, a typical Robinsons local where I met the lads and enjoyed a pint of Unicorn Bitter as we conducted our match preview.

The game ended in a 1-1 draw, the lads headed back over the Pennines, and I wandered down to The Olde Vic. If any pub deserves the description 'quirky' this is it. Surrounded by high-rise flats and tucked away behind the station, it is a traditional pub full of bric-a-brac and all kinds of random stuff. The punters were a mixed bunch, friendly and discerning, the landlord affable. Only 2 beers were on, it looked like some of the other pumps had been hammered by the pre-match crowd. I had an excellent pint of a brown beer from Anarchy, the name of which escapes me. A pub well worth seeking out.

I headed back up the hill towards the hotel. Just over the road from there is situated a fine old traditional Robinsons pub called The Blossoms. A multi-roomed establishment, it was quite full for a Tuesday evening. I bought a pint of Dizzy Blonde, and settled down to watch the tail-end of the omnium at the Olympics. As well as serving some excellent beers, the pub's other claim to fame is the fact that the indie band of the moment, who all originate from the locality, take their name from the pub.

I have also enjoyed some fine beers particularly at the Market Tavern in Brighouse, whose beer garden is an absolute delight, and the Cross Keys at Siddal, which had an excellent beer festival last weekend matched by some wonderful sunny weather. This weekend we have the Brighouse Canal, Beer, and Music Festival, which will be fantastic if the past 2 years are anything to go by. And then there's Rock of the North to look forward to in a couple of weeks! Happy Days!

And the beers of summer? A toss up between Salopian Lemon Dream, and any one of the excellent beers from Vocation....

The Lime Kilns, Leicestershire


Popular posts from this blog

A Calder Valley Ale Trail - UPDATE June 2022

T he definitive guide to the pubs and bars that line the railways in the towns and villages of the beautiful Calder Valley in West Yorkshire. After a break in updates with all the disruption of lockdowns over the  last couple of years, here's the latest, updated version.... The original Rail Ale Trail heads through the Pennines from Dewsbury through Huddersfield to Stalybridge, or vice versa, depending on your standpoint. Made famous by Oz Clarke and James May on a TV drinking trip around Britain several years ago, it reached saturation point on weekends to such an extent that lager and shorts were banned by some pubs and plastic glasses introduced to the hordes of stag dos, hen parties, and fancy-dressed revellers that invaded the trans-Pennine towns and villages. There are some great pubs en route but you ventured to them on a summer Saturday at your peril. However, only a few miles away to the north, there is another trail possible which takes in some great pubs and travels thr

No More Crows The Rooster....

Another much-loved pub which has played a big part in so many people's lives over the years has recently closed its doors.... News broke the other week that The Red Rooster, at Brookfoot, near Brighouse, was to close at the beginning of March. With the rent being increased by an incredible £935 a week , landlord Eddie Geater decided that it was simply not viable to keep the popular free house open. And it is sad news, as the Rooster has been at the forefront of the area's pubs for most of the last 30-odd years. And it is a big deal. Before it opened as the Rooster there were hardly any free houses in the area as we know them today where there was a truly wide and unrestricted choice of beers. Prior to being the Rooster, the pub had been a Webster's tied house, The Wharf, which had been built in the early 20th century to cater for workers from the nearby wharf from where local coal was transported via the canal network. And to this day, three former wharfmen's cot

The Town That Thinks It's A Village....

My time has been a bit limited recently for venturing too far afield, so last weekend I made the short journey to Elland to check out a few of the town's pubs and bars. Here's what I found.... Elland is a small market town in West Yorkshire, located between Halifax and Huddersfield beside the River Calder. It goes back a bit, being recorded as Elant in the Domesday Book of 1086, and over the centuries the town grew as a result of the woollen industry, with the town becoming home to several large mills. The coming of the Aire and Calder Navigation and the railways further helped the growth of the town. The subsequent decline of the woollen industry in the town meant that there were a number of empty mills left standing, and those that didn't burn down were put to other use, such as the home of Gannex, the now-defunct textile company whose raincoats were worn by the rich and famous, including former Prime Minister Harold Wilson. More recently, several mills have been converte