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Rats, Hops, and the Arcade....

A view from Huddersfield on a Monday evening....

The other day I was sat in the Arcade, just off St George's Square near the station, in Huddersfield, enjoying a half of a collaboration between Ridgeside and Arcade on tap, which was a very pleasant 4.5% Session Ale. Now, the Arcade doesn't do cask, it has 5 taps, and a large selection of bottles and cans to drink there or at home, but it is a lovely chilled out bar. It looks like it used to be a shop, the bar is to the right when you go in, there are a few tables and chairs, with additional seating downstairs. The staff are always very friendly, and it is a pleasant place to while away an hour or so. I was due to meet up with a mate for a birthday pint at the Rat and Ratchet, but as I had landed in town early I decided to pop here for a swift half. The place had a few people in, but being a Monday teatime, it was pretty quiet generally. I became aware of a conversation between a couple of guys that was becoming more animated about the merits of various breweries. "Magic Rock? Beavertown? They've become old hat" was the gist of what one was saying to his mate.

And I have to say, I get where he was coming from. The flurry of new breweries, new beers, collaborations - the current trend, it would seem - means that some of the more established players in the relatively new craft beer market can soon look tired and behind the curve. Just as more styles in cask beer have made some of the more traditional brewers' products look less interesting, the same is happening in the world of craft keg. The big difference in the two markets is that the demographic that drinks craft has a generally younger profile, less inherent loyalty to any particular beer, and with many breweries such as Cloudwater not generally having a core range, they accept that much of the beer on offer is in a constant state of flux, so that each trip to the pub or bar can be a new voyage of discovery. I suppose this is a reflection of the fast-moving digital world we live in, but it does make me wonder how things will develop.

Those original punks, Brewdog, have gone global, people like Camden and Meantime have ended up owned by some of the world's largest brewers, and I am sure they won't be the last. The number of brewers that there are at the moment isn't sustainable in the long term, and some fall-out is inevitable. But with frequent collaborations between brewers, are we moving to a time where this will be the norm rather than the exception? Or will we see the rise of the celebrity brewer who flits from one brewery to another? Or TV shows like Masterbrew(apologies to Shepherd Neame) where hopeful brewers battle to be Master Brewer of the year? Who knows? It is all moving very quickly, and it will be interesting to see what happens over the next 12 months....

White Rats and Hop Monsters....
I met my mate Rob at the Rat and Ratchet, and where I also bumped into my long-standing mate Pete, plus another Pete, who now works at the Rat, but who used to work at the Buffet Bar in Stalybridge. It was my first visit for probably a couple of years, and having negotiated one of the most challenging sets of pedestrian crossings there is anywhere in the country to get there, I was looking forward to a decent pint and a friendly atmosphere. Fortunately, the Rat is a welcoming place that makes you feel at home when you walk in. It is an Ossett Brewery tied house, and whilst I tend to find their beers a bit boring these days, as there is so much competition around, and they seem to have got left behind(see earlier comments!), the on-site Rat Brewery often comes up with something more interesting. For the second time in a week, I had an excellent pint of their most popular beer, White Rat, although there was plenty else on offer from the large bank of hand pumps on the bar. The Rat and Ratchet is an excellent traditional multi-roomed pub, and I will try to not leave it so long before I go back.

We walked for a few minutes, heading to the always-reliable Grove. Here I had the best cask beer I have had so far in this fledgling year, a 6.2% New Zealand IPA called Piwaka Waka from Marble. It was stunning, bursting with tropical fruit freshness with underlying hoppy bitterness. A timely reminder that when cask is at its best, it takes some beating. With happy heads on, we walked back down towards the town centre, and after my second visit of the evening to Arcade, where Rob had never been, we went to the Corner, which was pretty quiet but the beer was good as ever.

After a final pint there, I headed off home, having had another most enjoyable visit to Huddersfield...

Sad News from Stalybridge....
And now some really sad news. It was announced this weekend that Sue Dixon, who had worked at the Buffet Bar in Stalybridge for many years, had passed away after a short battle with cancer. I'd only seen her a week or two before Christmas, so it was a bit of a shock. Sue was the one person who had been there for the 12 years or so I have been a regular, and always made you feel welcome. Sue loved her holidays, which she enjoyed with her partner Fred. She was a friend to everyone, a real character, and will be greatly missed by her family, friends, customers, and all who knew her. RIP, Sue....

Arcade Beers, Huddersfield

Comments

  1. Interesting perspectives , Chris. I'm quite happy to drink Ossett beers which are as good as ever in pubs with high turnover, we're all different.
    I'm glad it's not just me who struggles to cross the ring road !

    ReplyDelete

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