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A Drink? in Hebden and other Places

The festival season is back with us again. Otherwise known as autumn, it is that stretch of a few weeks when around these parts when there seems to be a beer festival wherever you look. Last week we called in at the Rastrick Beer Festival at St John's Chuch, this weekend there is the Halifax and Calderdale CAMRA event, as well as Todmorden, next week it is Huddersfield, followed by the Festivale at Bailiffe Bridge on the 7th and 8th October, about which more next time.

Yesterday we visited the Calderdale Beer and Cider Festival. Back at Hebden Bridge Town Hall for the second year running, I thought it was excellent. It had been brought forward from later in the Autumn, which meant it clashed with Todmorden, but with the two being only a few miles apart, it was felt it would benefit both events with a lot of people visiting both. Whilst the light and airy hall is a reasonable size, the fact that it was a nice sunny day meant that many people chose to take their drinks outside to the adjoining courtyard. The patio windows had also been opened, affording pleasant views over the river Hebden and the old packhorse bridge. Hard to believe that such a pleasant stretch of water could have caused so much devastation last winter; indeed just across the bridge is The White Swan, which remains shut 9 months down the line.

Anyway, what about the beers? Many were railway-themed to tie in with the 175th anniversary of the Calder Valley Line. So you had Piston Broke from Wiltshire's Box Steam Brewery, Singletrack from Kirkby Lonsdale, Hop On Board from Mallinsons, and a couple of favourites where I had never realised there was a railway connection, Sonoma from Track, and Workie Ticket from Mordue. All in all, over 50 beers from all over the country, needless to say could only try a handful, with my personal favourite on the day being the Motueka from North Riding Brewery.

The great thing about a good beer festival is that it gives you the chance to meet up again with lots of like-minded beer and cider-loving people. It was a pleasure to finally meet Andy, the editor of 'Calder Cask', who give me a gentle nudge regarding my next article, and we also met up with a couple from Fleetwood whom we had met in Fannys Ale House in Saltaire earlier in the year after visiting the Bradford Beer Festival.

Earlier in the afternoon we had popped into Drink?, one of the town's micro pubs. Last time I had been in it had been days before the floods struck, and how it has been transformed! Martin, the owner, was telling us he had seized the initiative and got on with sorting it out himself, which meant he was open relatively quickly compared to some of the other places in town. The bar has been moved to the rear of the two downstairs rooms, with the bottled beers sharing the front room with seating and an amazing mural of the escalator at Maida Vale tube station. Upstairs there is a further room with seating. There are 2 hand pumps, and we had an excellent pint of Yankee Lip Smacka from Ramsbottom Craft Brewery. I look forward to paying another visit soon. Unfortunately, time didn't permit a visit to Calan's, and also on the 'to do' list for next time is one I only got told about yesterday, Nido, which is just along the road past Drink?

Earlier in the week I got to visit a brewery. This came about because, having arranged to meet our Tom for a pint, he rang me back to say he was with Tony from the Pump Room who was going to a trade open evening at the Boothtown Brewery in Halifax and did we want to go? So we did and headed into the depths of Boothtown. Now this is the latest incarnation of the brewery formerly known as Oates, and despite my great friends the Rainey Street Band having played in the brewery's Pallet Bar a time or two, and actually being invited there fairly recently by Steve Chapman who had been brewing there for a short time, it was my first visit. The brewer is Trigger, who I am sure some of you will remember as being the brewer at Halifax Steam a year or two ago. We had a tour of the brewery, and Trigger shared his passion for brewing. There were 4 beers for us to sample, with my favourite being the Liquid Gold, a 4.1% honey-coloured beer with an excellent balance. There was also Boothtown Blonde at 3.8%, Old Cockerel at 4.3%, which was more of an 'old-fashioned' bitter style, and Hoppy Valley, a 4.5% IPA which I also enjoyed. The Pallet Bar itself is warm and welcoming, clad with pallets as its name implies, with 6 handpumps including a couple from the Junction at Baildon which is owned by the same people and is where Trigger also brews. I wish him well in his new venture in Halifax!

And finally, I visited the new Corner Bar in Huddersfield when it opened last weekend. This is the new Mallinsons taphouse situated in the middle of town on Market Walk, just past the top entrance to the Pack Horse Centre. It sees the return of Samantha Smith, who was in charge at The Sportsman for a number of years and also at the Stalybridge Buffet Bar, where I got to know her well. This has been a labour of love, an excellent and stylish bar has been created. It was packed when I went in, with many of Huddersfield's beer-lovers in evidence. I had a pint of Mallinson's Nelson Sauvin before moving on to the excellent Centennial from Blue Bee. Great to see Sam back in town, the bar staff, who include Aaron who I also got to know at The Buffet Bar, were all polite and quick on service, and I am sure it will become a popular fixture on the town's beer circuit!

All in all, a busy week with lots going on. Next time I will be previewing the Bailiff Bridge Festivale, which takes place in a couple of weeks time. In the meantime, thanks for reading!

The Old Packhorse Bridge, Hebden Bridge



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