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Waiting For The Siren Call....

A return to some local favourites and a new Champion Beer of Britain is announced....

Last weekend I was mainly in and around Brighouse which gave me the chance to visit one or two of the fine hostelries in the town that I've not been in as much recently. First up was the Beck on Bradford Road, where the pub was packed with a crowd split between watching local rockabilly band, Folsom 3, and Leeds United's first match of the season. No problem, I bought a pint of Nook Blond and wandered out into the beer garden where I enjoyed my pint and a natter with some friends in the warm sunshine. Someone recommended the Salamander they were drinking, and so when it was time for my next pint, I decided to give it a go. It was the first time I had a beer from this well-established brewery from Bradford in quite some time, and I have to say, it was most enjoyable even though I can't remember the name! Salamander have been brewing since 2000 and back in those days, when they operated out of a former pie factory, their beers were normally named after different species of salamander, although I suppose there are only so many to go at, and their range now includes more prosaic names like 'Blonde'.... Good to see the Beck busy and doing well, and if you visit, you are assured a warm welcome from Paul and June and the friendly staff!

Next up was a visit to the Commercial/Railway, another friendly pub, just beside Brighouse Railway station.  Trevor and Sue, who also used to run the Beck back in the days when it was still the New Inn, have been here a few years now, and with friendly staff and customers, it is always a pleasure to visit. There are normally 4, sometimes 5 real ales on hand pump, with Copper Dragon Golden Pippin and Tetleys always on, with a beer from Ossett, with guests which have included the likes of Abbeydale and Salopian in recent months. It was a Sunday when I called in, and for once it was quiet, as most Sundays(except the first of the month) DJ Des is entertaining the crowd with tunes from his vast collection of golden and not-so golden oldies! All good fun!

I headed down to the consistently excellent Market Tavern which I have written about many times. Beers from the likes of Salopian, Abbeydale, North Riding and Squawk continue to regularly appear from the bar, but Snap and Debbie always have a good variety on the bar, so there is always a dark beer, always a traditional bitter, alongside the blonde styles. If you haven't ever called in, or you haven't been for a while, you will not be disappointed with this friendly micro pub just beside the market.
Winners: The team from Siren Brewery
(Image courtesy of CAMRA)
And now some festival stuff. Last week was the Great British Beer Festival at Olympia, and the Champion Beer of Britain for 2018 was chosen. The winners were Siren Brewery from Reading, whose Broken Dream Breakfast Stout, weighing in at 6.5%, and featuring a complex blend of chocolate and coffee flavours with a touch of smoke, was deemed the outstanding beer of the festival. Another dark beer, Ripper an 8.5% barley wine from Suffolk brewers, Green Jack, was second, and Workie Ticket, from Mordue, which is a darkish malty bitter, half of which I enjoyed recently at the Delaval Arms in Old Hartley, Northumberland, was third. Interestingly, no hop monsters in sight. Other award winners in different categories included a trio of Salopian beers, Darwin's Origin(Joint Bronze) in the Best Bitter category, whilst in the Golden Ales, Oracle claimed Gold, Hop Twister the Silver, and Moonshine from Abbeydale got Joint Bronze. A friend of mine was working at the Festival said the attendances seemed to be down whilst prices were going up. Maybe CAMRA should look to move it around the country like they used to do, I remember enjoying visiting the GBBF when it was at the long-demolished Queens Hall in Leeds, way back in the late '80's. Meanwhile, the second largest beer festival in the country, at Peterborough, takes place next week. I have been given a couple of tickets for free entrance for the opening trade day on Tuesday, 21st August, but I can't go, so if you are interested, please message me on Twitter. First come, first served.

One festival I did manage to get to was the Cross Keys beer festival at Siddal near Halifax last Saturday night. It was really busy, not surprising really as there was some excellent beers on the outside bar from the likes of Shiny, Yeovil, Off the Wall, and Neepsend, as well as the core regulars on the bar inside. Anarchy Citra Star was on keg, and with some great music on, it was no wonder that the punters kept on coming and staying! Well done to Hugh and the team!

Finally, on the festival front, another one has been announced in the last few days. This is the Halifax Festival of Words, which will take place from the 11th to the 14th of October. Brought to you by The Book Corner and the Grayston Unity, it will feature spoken word, talks, live music, authors, publishers, and illustrators, and confirmed so far are 6 Music's Elizabeth Alker in conversation with Hookworms, a Q and A session with James Endeacott, Embrace, plus loads more still to be announced, with events taking place at the Book Corner in Halifax Piece Hall, the Grayston Unity, and the Albany Arcade. Keep your eyes open for further announcements....

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