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Chilling Out In Shipley....

A day when my original plans initially went awry but, hey, it all worked out well in the end! An afternoon a few miles away in Shipley visiting some of the town's bars turned out to be a pretty relaxed and enjoyable experience....

It was a bright sunny morning, the first for ages, and nothing like it to get you in the mood for a day's exploring. However, unfortunately our national rail network had other ideas. My first plan was a visit to Lancashire - rail replacement bus. An alternative Lancashire trip - see above. Number 3 - a trip east - signalling problems! And so when I arrived at Halifax railway station having booked tickets for my 4th option and discovering the train was running, but delayed, it was clear the problems still weren't resolved. The display said it all....

Oh dear....

I had decided to take the relatively short journey over to Shipley, where there were two Good Beer Guide pubs I had never visited, plus another one where a revisit was way overdue. I made it over to Bradford eventually via a returning Grand Central train from the capital, enjoying the ride that was comfier than usual, and walked across the city centre where, as I had a short wait before my next train was due, I called at the excellent Exchange Craft Beer House to have a quick half rather than standing on a cold platform at Forster Square station. The bar was pretty busy with fans of Bradford City enjoying a pre-match drink before their game with Accrington Stanley. I ordered a half of Radio Silence, the third time I had tried this 4.2% pale ale cask beer from the Cornish craft kings, Verdant, and it was the best I'd had so far (NBSS 3.5). 

It is only a 7 minutes journey from Braford Forster Square to Shipley where the station has 5 platforms laid out in an unusual triangular shape at the intersection of the lines from Leeds and Bradford which if you don't negotiate carefully can see you end up on the wrong platform, as I remember from one early February evening when for the life of me I couldn't work out where we needed to be. Mind you, it was following on from an afternoon session at the Bradford Beer Festival, a pint or two at Fanny's Ale House in Saltaire and at the Fox near to the station....

Shipley, despite its close proximity to Bradford, is an independent historic market town situated alongside the River Aire and the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. Its growth coincided with the Industrial Revolution and the coming of the textile industry, and is home to the historic UNESCO World Heritage Site of Saltaire, a mile or so up the road, where industrialist Titus Salt created a model village to house workers at his vast woollen mill. Today the textile industry is long-departed; the mill is now home to several varied businesses, has an art gallery featuring works by Bradford's David Hockney, a bookshop, restaurants, and cafes. Sadly, little remains of the historic buildings that once occupied Shipley town centre; a combination of slum clearance, road-widening, and new developments put paid to most of them, so that today most of it is fairly utilitarian and somewhat lacking in character, but it has the benefit of the hills and greenery close by. Shipley Glen is an attractive little wooded valley to the north of the town which has its own funicular tramway, staffed by volunteers, to transport visitors to and from the ridge above. And as you would expect given its proximity to both, it is also very much a dormitory town for Bradford and Leeds.

The historic Salt's Mill

And it was to the afore-mentioned Fox that I made my way for the first stop of the afternoon in the town. Situated a short walk away from the station in a row of takeaways and shops alongside the always busy A657. It is a single roomed, cafe-style bar with its own on-site brewery, and a place I have visited several times, although my last one was before lockdown. Pleasantly decorated with lots of beer-related signage and photos of old Shipley adorning the walls, it was fairly quiet when I arrived, but over the 40 minutes or so I was there it got busier, with a mix of blokes on their own, some with their mates, and a few couples. There were half a dozen beers on handpump, including a couple from the BEEspoke brewery downstairs. I opted for a pint of Dead City, a 4.4% New Zealand IPA from Anarchy, whose beers I have seen around quite regularly recently. It was hazy, and a murky muddy colour which put me in mind of some of the Lupulus series of beers from Buxton Brewery from a couple of years back. It was a pretty enjoyable beer with plenty of citrussy flavours (NBSS 3). The Fox is a real beer drinker's destination, and as on my previous visits, I enjoyed my time here.

The Fox, Shipley

It was around ten minutes' walk to the next place, which included time waiting for the lights to change so I could cross the busy Otley Road. I walked past an Indian restaurant, then a Greek one, and various businesses including one dedicated the somewhat unusual combination of beer, wine, and cake decorating supplies! I came to road going off to the left which was Westgate, and a short distance up on the left was what at first glance appeared to be a closed bar. However, closer inspection showed that there were lights were on inside, and so I tried the door, it opened, and I went in.

Hullabaloo may not live up to its name based on first impressions, but inside I found a surprisingly large bar which whilst not particularly busy had a welcoming atmosphere. The friendly girl who was on serving duty broke off from her conversation with a couple of dudes seated at the bar and greeted me cheerily. From the 4 hand pumps on the bar, I ordered a pint of Two Lapels from Wishbone, which had a suspiciously Christmassy theme on the pump clip, but it did promise a slew of American hops in the shape of Mosaic, Chinook, and Citra. In fact the Christmas theme was running through the bar with a Christmas tree, and lights around the bar. #itsstillonlynovember. I retreated to a raised area to the right of the door, there was a corresponding area to the left, and a couple more levels beyond the bar which give a more intimate feel to what is essentially one large room, with the toilets upstairs. The beer was good, another hazy one, and plenty of fruity flavours and punch from the hops (NBSS 3). The soundtrack was pretty good, too. I was about to go, but then I spotted Verdant's Lightbulb on keg, so I ordered a half. and this time sat at the opposite raised area to the left of the entrance. The beer is one of Verdant's best sellers, a 4.5% strong session ale with a biscuit malt base topped with fruity and dank flavours from the addition of Magnum, Simcoe, and Centennial hops. People kept coming in and out of the bar, and like the Fox, Hullabaloo is another friendly bar with good beer that is well worth a visit. 

Hullabaloo, Shipley

It was only a few minutes' walk to the next place on my list, up the hill and then right, a left, and then across the road and I was there, once I had negotiated crossing yet another busy thoroughfare. Set amidst a row of shops near to the town's market square and bus station on Kirkgate, the Crafty Kernel is another new bar which only opened in early 2022. As the name implies, a number of craft keg beers are on sale along with a range of 4 beers on hand pump. It was quite busy when I walked in, there was a crowd sat at the bar with its attractive back wall whilst the tables facing the bar were also fairly well-occupied. Apparently there is additional seating available in an upstairs room. 

I decided I would go for one of the keg beers, so I ordered a half of Haven, a 4.7% dry-hopped hazy pale ale which was a collab between Grimsby's Docks Beers and Thornbridge, which was very enjoyable. I followed that up with a half of Twisting, a 5.4% Kveik IPA brewed from Amity, who are based in an old mill in Farsley near Leeds. Kveik refers to a historic family of yeast cultures which are unique to the west coast of Norway which allow for quicker and more efficient fermentation than standard brewing yeasts as well as bringing their own character to a beer. And this was another interesting beer. I liked the Crafty Kernel, it was another warm and friendly little bar where I was made to feel very welcome.

It was getting towards the time for the train back to Bradford, so I finished my drink and set off walking down Kirkgate. In the market square, vans were being loaded as the stalls were being emptied, trading done for another day. I walked past the steamy windows of Shipley's Wetherspoons, the Sir Norman Rae, which seemed to be very busy inside, with the town's already-lit Christmas lights shining down on the darkening streets. I crossed over the Otley Road and walked down the quiet road to the station where, after finding the right platform at the first attempt, the evening temperature falling as the train back to Bradford arrived a few minutes late. I'd had a great afternoon in Shipley; three excellent little bars each with some great beer and a friendly welcome, and with them all being pretty close together it makes for an ideal mini crawl.

Back in Bradford, I decided to call in the Shoulder of Mutton on Kirkgate, a traditional town centre hostelry which is owned by Samuel Smiths. It is a pub I have enjoyed popping in over the past 40-odd years, and it has hardly changed over that time. Spread over a number of rooms and with a large enclosed sun-trap of a beer garden at the back, it has the feel of a local and attracts a mixed clientele with plenty of local characters. The beer, whilst not as cheap as it used to be, is still good value at £3.00 a pint for Old Brewery Bitter, and it was in good nick (NBSS 3). Being a Sam's house, I couldn't look at my phone of course, and when I decided to forget the train and get a taxi to take me home I had to go outside to sort it out. Returning back inside the pub to finish my drink, on this increasingly cold evening the warmth emanating from the open fire in the lounge area down from the bar was most welcome. And then it was back outside to wait in the cold for the Uber to take me home, having had a most enjoyable visit despite the unpromising start....

Follow me on twitter/X: @realalemusic


  1. My wife has a cousin who lives quite close to Shipley, so next time we're up that way, we will have to look out for some of the pubs you've listed.

    I've been meaning to reply to this post for a long time, but for some reason my desktop wouldn't allow me to.

    Looks like the phone is going to work - fingers 🤞 crossed.


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