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Spring and Summer Wine....

It's that time of the year when we can get four seasons in one day, and this year has been no exception. And, whether it's that welcome first drink outdoors, or a dash inside to avoid those April showers, it is a great time of year to enjoy a beer....


A couple of weeks ago, I took a day off work with the sole intention of getting on with some much-needed jobs at home. But a trip out on an errand in the morning soon scuppered that plan! It was a beautiful, sunny spring day, and after the recent gloomy weather we'd had, I decided there and then I was going to spend the afternoon outside. The jobs would have to wait....

...And so, an hour later I set out walking out from home, down the valley to Brookfoot, and then picking up the canal to Elland. It was wonderful to be out in the late March sunshine. The birds were singing happily, the odd butterfly fluttered by, the sky was blue, the sun was warm - even the anglers were cheerful....
Perfect late March afternoon....

I thought I would pop into the Colliers, one of two Sam Smiths pubs in Elland, because it has a lovely outside area beside the canal, but when I arrived, full of eager anticipation at just after 3, it was shut. Doesn't open until 5 on a Monday, apparently, as I found out later. So I trudged on. The Barge and Barrel was closed - although it has now re-opened under new management within the past week - and so I carried on into Elland and wandered up to Elland Craft and Tap, which I hadn't been in to for a while. After a most enjoyable walk in the sun, I had a most pleasant hour here. People wandered in, guys having finished work, the odd pensioner, a guy reading his book. An old mate of mine popped in, so we had a good catch up. The beer was great, although 2 weeks down the line I have forgotten what it was. Possibly Salopian. Or North Riding. But this is it, please let me know if you recognise what it is....

An excellent beer at Elland Craft and Tap

So, a lovely afternoon, but over the past couple of weeks we have had rain, hail sunshine, wind - you name it. But it is so typical of early Spring. But then again, last weekend, Saturday was a lovely day. I had decided I would go to Vinyl Tap Records in Huddersfield as a band I had liked on Marc Riley's 6 Music show were doing an in-store gig. These were Bilge Pump, from Leeds, who played an excellent half hour of their prog style rock, free on the day but I would happily have paid to see them.

Bilge Pump @ Vinyl Tap, Huddersfield

I had a rummage through the vinyl, but on the Saturday before Record Store Day I didn't find anything I fancied, so I wandered on to The Corner Bar for a pint, ordered a pint of Mallinsons, and retreated to a corner to follow Town's progress in their away game at table-toppers Leyton Orient on my phone. As I finished my pint and got ready to leave, Orient equalised in the 4th minute of stoppage time to deny Town a famous victory. Disappointing, but I still left The Corner relatively happy compared to the glum faces coming in for a consoling pint following Huddersfield's 4-1 home defeat to Leicester....

It was still very pleasant and sunny, so I decided to catch the train down to Honley and visit the taproom at the Summer Wine Brewery. The train takes a mere 11 minutes, and drops you off at the village station, which is actually situated quite a way from the centre on the opposite side of the valley. I walked down passing some large houses and a school, and on reaching the main road at the bottom of the hill I turned left towards Crossley Mills, where the brewery is situated in Unit 15, called The Old Furnace. There is a map at the entrance to the mill complex, and Summer Wine are at the far side round the back. A few people were sat outside, enjoying the evening sun, a couple smoking, a couple vaping. I wandered in to a small but perfectly-formed taproom. A stone-fronted bar was opposite, a few benches and tables in front. A large fridge to the left, a barrel store with additional picnic tables through to the right.
You are now entering Summer Wine country....

Now Summer Wine have been brewing since 2006, expanded a couple of times so that they now have a 6-barrel plant, and supply over 500 outlets, focussing on flavour-forward beers often featuring US hop varieties. Despite all that, they seem to have slipped under the radar over the past year or two. Whether it is the focus on nearby Magic Rock, the plethora of new breweries that have cropped up that have meant they have have had to seek custom further afield, I don't know, although the lad behind the bar said they still sold a lot around Holmfirth and the local area. I ordered a Pacifica, a refreshing 4% session pale featuring New Zealand hops and sat down at one of the benches.

Chilling out at SWB Tap....

I finished my beer and decided to go for a half of Diablo, their flagship 6% strong IPA, but it wasn't on, so I settled instead on Oregon, their 5.5% West Coast IPA featuring Cascade hops and full of spice and citrus flavours. Very nice. It was time to go, but I can recommend a trip out to Summer Wine. It's not as big as Magic Rock and there isn't as big a variety to choose from, but you will get a friendly welcome and some pretty decent beer in a quiet setting away from the big crowds.

I headed up the hill and into Honley village centre, where my goal was a wine bar which also sells craft beer called Krafty. Honley is quite a sprawling village, with lots of hidden corners and lovely old buildings.

I found Krafty easily enough, right in the heart of the village. A group of the village ladies were enjoying prosecco and pinot grigio, with the lads at the bar on Peroni and the like. Beyond them there were a couple of hand pumps and some taps, although the choice at first glance wasn't too inspiring. I opted for a half of Marstons EPA and retreated to a seat by the door. It was busy, and was friendly enough, with couples bobbing in for a Saturday evening drink. I spotted a beer from Three Fiends brewery on the board. Now this is a particularly rare brewery, based on a farm near Meltham, and in contrast makes Summer Wine seem positively ubiquitous. The only time I'd ever seen them before was when my sister, who lives in the area, gave me a couple of their bottles. So I went for a half of Punch Drunk, a 5.5% New England IPA on tap. This was full of flavour and delicious, and once again it shows that you have to get out and about to find these beers, they won't come and find you!

I had just about time to get a quick drink. My sister had messaged me whilst I was at Summer Wine, and had recommended a pub called the Allied. This turned out to be situated just off the main road, on a lovely cobbled street on the way to the village church.

Honley village

I walked into a bustling pub, with several rooms and corners. The bar was to the left. There were 3 hand pumps on. I squeezed my way through and ordered half of Bradfield Farmer's Blonde, which the girl behind the bar served with a friendly smile. Several TV screens were showing the football, people were watching, whilst others sat chatting oblivious to the happenings on the pitch. A couple of lads came in, a group of girls, loading up before a night on the town. I liked the Allied, it was a friendly, bustling village local, with people of all ages enjoying themselves. It reminded me of the Market in Elsecar, a proper pub to round off the trip.

The Allied, Honley...a proper pub....

And then it was back down the hill, and up again to the station, where the train was delayed by approximately 14 minutes. It was really quiet, apart the birds having a late evening sing. I reflected on an interesting trip with some different beers in a lovely area only a few miles from home. The train finally arrived, back to Huddersfield, and then it was the bus back to Brighouse and home....

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