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Reasons To Be Cheerful....

A quick return to Bradford and some good news for a number of local pubs....

My trip to Bradford last weekend was done in the name of football, as Town were making the short journey to play Bradford Park Avenue at the Horsfall Stadium in Buttershaw.

We arranged to meet at the Travellers in Hipperholme, an Ossett tied house, which, whilst only being a half hour walk from home, I hadn't visited in ages. It is a comfortable, rambling old building with several rooms, popular with walkers and locals alike. The beer was pleasant enough, but I do think Ossett beers are nowadays pretty bland compared to many around these days, with their new-look pump clips similarly so, and not really helping their cause. That said, they do provide some more interesting beers through their sister breweries, particularly Fernandes and Rat.

We went to the game, and whilst Town won 3-1, the quality of the football was very poor. After the game we headed into Bradford, where the first port of call was Jacobs. Years ago, when I worked in the city, this was the Jacobs Well, a classic Tetleys pub with great beer and a fantastic craic. It fell on hard times and closed, but re-opened in 2013 in its current guise as a comfortable and friendly free house, serving up to 9 beers on cask, often featuring small local breweries. One is Sunbeam from Leeds, but on Saturday I had a couple of excellent pints of Daisy Hill Blonde, brewed by the new Hedgerow Brewery from nearby Heaton. Since it re-opened the pub has won several awards, these including local CAMRA pub of the year in 2015. Jacobs is well worth a visit, a lovely pub, handy for nearby entertainment venues such as the Alhambra, St Georges Hall, and the National Media Museum. And, of course, this being Bradford, there are a host of fine places to eat.

We called in at the new Sunbridgewells tunnel complex, had a pint at the Wallers Brewery, which was refreshingly cheap - £2.50 for a pint of Salamander, with Saltaire beers only £2.30. It was busy, though, so we didn't hang around too long before moving up to North Parade and calling in at the Sparrow, and then the Record Cafe, where I had an excellent pint of Teesside -based Three Brothers' ThaIPA as the rains came down outside.

Next up was an excellent, good value curry at the Sheesh Mahal on Westgate, before getting the train back to Brighouse and sampling some excellent Titanic Plum Porter at the always welcoming Commercial/Railway beside the station. You see a lot more of Plum Porter these days, but the quality does not seem to have suffered at all, it remains a well-balanced dark ale with a cutting sharpness from the natural plum flavouring, and I would guess it must be by now the Potteries-based brewery's best selling beer by far.
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A big well done to Rob and the team from The Dusty Miller at Hove Edge, Brighouse, who have achieved a 'Highly Commended' award for coming 2nd in the Best National Community Pub at the prestigious 'Publican' awards held in London this week. The Dusty is a friendly pub with an increasingly good reputation for its good value, quality pub food, and has a popular Thursday night quiz, in which I often participate! And on the real ale front, the regular beers are Everard's Tiger, which is rare in these parts, and one from Moorhouses, with occasional guests.
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Over in Huddersfield, congratulations to the Corner Bar which, despite only opening a few months ago, has not only fitted seamlessly into the local real ale scene, but has now won Kirklees CAMRA Winter Pub of the Season. This is a great venue, the Mallinsons tap, but also with some excellent guests on both hand pump and tap. Well done to Sam, Tara, and Elaine. Not far away, it is good to see Magic Rock apparently increasing their commitment to cask ale. Not only have they recently brewed a traditional bitter called Hat Trick as the official beer for Huddersfield Town but they have also increased the number of hand pumps to 5 alongside the taps at their increasingly popular brewery tap! Looks like any plans to go down the Cloudwater route have been put on hold....
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And finally, it is congratulations to Hugh and Ruth from the Cross Keys at Siddal in Halifax whose pub has won Halifax and Calderdale CAMRA Pub of the Year for the 2nd time in 4 years. This is a richly-deserved award, the Keys is a fantastic, friendly community pub serving consistently excellent beer from the likes of Abbeydale, Squawk, Salopian, and Great Heck. It says something that despite competition from some of the excellent new places that have opened up in Halifax over the past 12 months or so, and the likes of the Market Tavern in Brighouse, and Calans in Hebden Bridge that it has managed to win once again. It just highlights how high the bar has been set in terms of beer quality within the Calderdale area.

There are definitely some reasons to be cheerful....
So they win again: The Cross Keys, Siddal

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