Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Britannia Inn, Elterwater, Cumbria

When a heatwave overtakes you when you are walking in the Lake District then the only sensible thing to do is find a welcoming pub. We were endeavouring to do a circular walk from Elterwater when I noticed a pub which looked very nice, The Britannia Inn!
Having made myself a mental note to return to the Brit we were off into some spectacular walking country.

After two hours in the blazing sun we were happy to find our way back to the pub where other  thirsty travellers were already forming a queue at the bar.

Plenty of local beers were on offer and the pile of casks round the back gave an indication of the range of local breweries who are supported by this pub.

The wait at the bar was worth it (and the barman was a nice chatty bloke) so we just managed to snap the immaculately served ale before it disappeared. The first was a session bitter at 3.6%  - marvellous! My second was a pint of Britannia, made for the pub by Coniston Brewery, whose Bluebird bitter was also available on the wickets.

This pub is an absolute gem. It is in a brilliant setting, serves local beers and makes you feel very welcome. If you are in the area, Langdale Pikes are just up the road, make a point of calling in. Food is also served and it looked very nice even though we did not sample it. We will, however, make a point of calling in next time we are in the Lake District.

King's Head, Huddersfield.

Beer train aficionados will probably know this one. Just outside Huddersfield station is a cracking pub called the King's Head. In a town where there are some cracking pubs we were pleased to find this one right in the middle, outside the station in George's Square.

Those of you who think that is a picture of Charles I take a careful look. If you don't know that it is the legendary Jimi Hendrix - well it is. The pub is acquiring that status itself.  As well as being a must visit pub when doing the Leeds- Stalybridge beer train it is also a great local music venue. 

When you get to Huddersfield you have a great choice of pubs. A friend who works in the town said that the beer in the Kings Head was really good. After an hour I could not really disagree. We arrived on Saturday teatime and the place was already rocking with people enjoying good beer and a convivial atmosphere.
There was a fine selection of local beers on draught when we were there. The Ringmaster was interesting as was the Golcar mild.

Town centre drinking is not for everyone but if you are in Huddersfield then I recommend that you call into the King's Head and sample what they have to offer.



Saturday, 26 July 2014

The Station Buffet Bar, Stalybridge

There was a time when every station had a nice cosy bar where you could get a drink and a sandwich whilst waiting for your train. Sadly these establishments declined after Beeching. Some survived and others were revived, among them the Stalybridge Station Buffet Bar.


We caught the train from Leeds on Saturday lunchtime. In less than an hour we had crossed the Pennines and arrived at Stalybridge station. Finding the bar was easy. We just followed the other thirsty travellers to the eastbound platform and entered the wonderful bar.
My first impression was that they must be running out of beer as the punters were three deep at the bar. We soon realised that a lot of people were going to Stalybridge just to visit the Buffet Bar. Once the crush died down we were able to sample the beers on offer. My first was a pint of Odin blonde which I drank on the platform with my friends.
The beer was delicious and we finally managed to get a seat inside and were able to admire the railway memorabilia which adorns the walls of the bar,
Away from the bar are a couple of dining rooms. We noted that pie and peas were on sale , reasonably priced if you felt peckish. I was still quite thirsty so revisited the bar to select my next pint:
I was spoilt for choice. There were eight interesting beers on the wickets. My second pint was Grain Storm - another lovely pale beer with distinctive  bitterness. I  could have stayed at Stalybridge all day. This bar is an absolute gem and it was no surprise to see dozens of likeminded people disembarking from east and westbound trains just to sample the beers on offer. Sadly we had a train to catch but I hope to go back soon and finish what I started.


The Outgate Inn, Outgate, Cumbria

The Lake District is full of good pubs. In some areas you are falling over them at every turn. The road from Hawkshead to Ambleside has a little belter at Outgate, called, appropriately, the Outgate Inn.
We were out walking from Wray on the banks of Lake Windermere when we came across the Fred Robinson's tied house. I go back along way with Robinsons (although not as far as 1838 when he bought his first pub) so had no hesitation in trying the Dizzy Blonde:
Delightful on a hot day and more subtle and well balanced than many of the latterday blondes that are so popular at the moment. The staff at the Outgate were not a very smiley team but they obviously have a sense of humour as this was posted on the bar!
It was a hot lunchtime so we sat in the garden where there was some shelter and had a very pleasant lunch which was reasonably priced and well presented - just what we wanted! Also room for the kids to run around in safety.
My second pint was named after the pub and was a smooth, understated bitter, again very nice on a hot day.  Robinsons will always have a place in my heart after my student days in Salford. It has been a while but my impression is that Fred's legacy is safe whilst they have pubs like the Outgate in the estate.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

The Horse and Farrier, Otley

Otley is a wonderful town for people who like pubs. We like pubs so we often go to Otley for a drink and, occasionally, for something to eat. Any pub that serves well kept beer and decent pub grub will eventually get a visit . Last night we went to the Horse and Farrier in Otley.


The pub is to be found on Bridge Street, which leads down to the bridge across the River Wharfe from the town centre. I think it used to be called the Bridge until it was acquired by Market Town Taverns a few years ago. They refurb'ed it and opened it up in it's current guise. If you know MTT then you know that their pubs are slightly different, usually good but different.
For the size of the pub the bar is quite small and when it is busy you can develop quite a thirst waiting to get served. However the wait is worthwhile as the range of beers, on draught and in bottles, is extensive. We started with pints of Saltaire Pride and a half of Mary Jane which are both local beers. The Pride is a splendid bitter which slipped down really easily!
Whilst we were giving the beer our full attention a very nice waitress sorted us out with 3 food menus plus a specials board. She made various recommendations of the food that she had tried. We started with Monks Folly and beetroot salad and another veggie starter, both were delicious!
On our next sortie to the bar we were tempted with Briscoe's Otley Gold and an ale from Salamander. The Gold is brewed in Otley so it was only fitting that we tried it.
Our main courses arrived next. I went for Pie of the Day which was steak and ale (what else?) which came with roast veg and chips. It was stuffed full of tender beef and both looked and tasted wonderful. It certainly met all my expectations.
The others had Red Mullet and Macaroni Bake - both, I am told, were really nice. By this time the seating area was full of diners - a mixed crowd all enjoying a Friday night at the Horse and Farrier.
I had another pint of Pride which is really a lovely session beer whilst Steve had a bottle of La Chouffe (8%). I did succumb to the stronger stuff later with a pint of Russian Stout (7.5%) from Black Sheep which started to impair my critical faculties. We did manage a cheeseboard to finish but the Russian saw off my thirst and so further imbibing did not materialise.
In conclusion the whole evening can be summed up in one word: Good. That is to say a good pub in a good drinking town serving good beer and good food. The staff were brilliant (one of the blokes had a two foot long beard). If you are in Otley you could do worse than visit the Horse and Farrier. We will certainly be going back!
Twitter: @horseandfarrier