Manchester – A City United By Beer

Lees Logo

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Last week, I witnessed the historic collaboration between Manchester’s oldest and one of its newest breweries. A day I enjoyed hugely, for all kinds of reasons. The day that the festival beer was brewed for Manchester Beer Week – the brainchild of that impudent young blogging pup, Connor Murphy, a young man for whom some form of beery canonisation beckons.

That day can be read about here.

On the day, an alarming thought struck me. “This beer is supposed to be ready for a launch on 26th. A mere 8 days away. It can’t work”

But here we are. On 26th May. A mere 8 days later, invite in hand…..

Rain Bar

(pic : http://www.rain-bar.co.uk/)

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….to drink THIS beer. For the first time.

Being furnished with a couple of tokens on entry, the Arch-Nemesis & I headed for the bar. For a pint – naturally – of Manchester Fold. And settled down to the onerous business of chatting with beery pals of all shades.

It’s hard work this convivial drinking and chatting bollocks you know! With me, the chatting bollocks comes as standard.

I was pleasantly surprised to be remembered by both Michael Lees-Jones and Paul Wood from Lees and had excellent chats with both. I think that there were a few nerves as to how the beer would turn out – especially given it was being drunk only 8 days after the grain hit the mash tun!

After a brief intro from William Lees-Jones, Michael Lees-Jones (Head Brewer) talked and seemed genuinely thrilled as to how the beer had come out. It was obvious that he truly enjoyed the brew day and having a few of us around – showing us the old place. Lees don’t do brewery tours for the public, so that was a big thing for me too.

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Then, a hoarse Paul Jones from Cloudwater (sounding like Vincent Price at his sinister best!) talked about their involvement in this historic beer and gave due and hearty praise to Connor for his efforts in not only putting together this collaboration, but for the whole Manchester Beer Week shebang. A truly impressive effort.

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Given the reason why we were there, Connor made some very salient points about the divide that seems to exist between traditional beer and the more craft side, A divide that (and I agree here) seems daft. For all that more modern breweries may be influenced by the US scene, people easily forget how some of the pathfinders of the US brewing scene were influenced by traditional UK breweries.

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(fellow blogger Mark chatting with Michael Lees-Jones)

The beer itself? Manchester Fold. A tawny coloured ale. It’s fair to say it’s as fragrantly hoppy as Lees have gotten. That’s the Cloudwater influence at work I think. It’s actually a bloody good beer. Full bodied for 4.8%, it’s really well-balanced and brimming with the fruity hoppy character of the Olicana hop. It really comes across as a Lees beer with a distinct Cloudwater stamp on it. And it works. So well.

It was certainly going down well last night!

Given that the consensus that it may have been “a bit green” after only a few days from the brew, this could be superb on the official launch day*. That said, there were 4 x 18 gallon casks sent to Rain Bar. This beer may have been good last night, but it will get even better over the weekend (if they keep it on that is!)

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Really enjoyed talking with Michael & Paul Wood from Lees. Men with a true passion for what they do. Managed to a bit of plot hatching with the blogging Yoda that is Tandleman too (something you can savour at ISBF!) And it’s always a pleasure to speak with Connor, his talented Dad Eamonn (Just check those designs and that website – stunning), not to mention that Prince of men John Clarke and young Mr Johnson too!

*That launch party. Now in The Marble Arch on 10th June promises to be an absolute corker!

Historic Manchester beer. Groundbreaking Manchester event. In THE iconic Manchester pub.

A proud night for all beer loving Mancunians. Again, the boy Murphy done good.

I think Manchester is ready. Roll on Manchester Beer Week.

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Days of Wonder – (JW Lees & Cloudwater Brew for Manchester Beer Week)

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“Oh when you’ve been to one brewery, you been to them all…..yaddah, yaddah, yaddah….”

Or so I thought. Until yesterday.

When Connor Murphy (aka “Mr Manchester Beer Week”) got in touch about coming to a brewday collaboration between JW Lees and Cloudwater, I hesitated. I’ve been in a multitude of breweries over the last two years. So, in terms of looking around one, it held no appeal.

But then, I’ve lived in the world of Micros for the last 3 years. I wanted to see something different. To challenge my perceptions of what a brewery is. To do that – and enter the pages of history – around these parts, that means JW Lees.

The Old meets The New. Tradition meets Innovation. History meets Future. Pre-Craft meets Post-Craft. However you choose to phrase it, this was different. And for all the potential nay sayers who might have doubted motives, Connor pulled something off here. I got the sense that this actually mattered. To both breweries. That both had things to learn.

OK. Here are the bare statistics. 4 tons + of malted barley. 1/4 ton of hops. Yes, you read that right. A QUARTER TON OF HOPS! A small amount of EKG and an ENORMOUS amount of Olicana.

Now, as far as new Micros go, Cloudwater started with a fairly big kit. But think bigger. Because the scale of this brew was mind boggling.

With well over 100 pubs to keep in beer and with 140 staff, this – in the beery scheme of things – is big business.

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With 2 x 300 bbl Mash Tuns, 5 x 200bbl & 4 x 100bbl fermenters (and that’s just for the real ale!) this is on a scale that I hadn’t imagined, to say the least

Being the shy and retiring type (whatever Connor might say to the contrary) there were times when I just backed up a bit and watched (and listened to) Paul Wood (Lees’ Brew Manager) talk to James Campbell & Paul Jones from Cloudwater. There was a lot of respect there and a lot being learned on both sides.

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(Paul Wood, Michael Lees-Jones – Head Brewer at Lees, Paul Jones & James Campbell)

I asked Paul W how long he’d been with Lees. 44 years. And – as he said himself – he has seen plenty of changes in that time. There was a calm around the team at Lees. Calm borne of experience. Time served, you might say.

There seemed no rush. No panic. This is – in no small measure – due to a mastery of the brewing process. Something that I was in awe of. Or maybe it was Swan Syndrome! Whatever it was, it was impressive. And whatever you may think of Lees’ beers (and I really do love their dark stuff), when you have to service the number of pubs they do, consistency is paramount. And that mastery of process is key.

This is a modern brewery. In old buildings. Old buildings that seem to stretch as far as the eye can see.

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I never expected to be this boggled. But just everything about this place…… Each turn you took there was a whole chunk of the brewery as big as some micros.

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(This one’s for Connor!)

Walking into the QC/lab, the attention to detail, the kit, the things that some dream of. And all of this kit goes in to producing that sheer consistency of beer that maintains that estate of pubs. And sells beer on a scale that only Brew Dog can imagine.

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This picture does not do this whirlpool copper the justice it deserves. I looked in and I could swear that I could see the bottom. Of a 3 storey high vessel. Just think about that power. I saw Paul from Cloudwater gazing into it, mesmerised. I could almost hear the Will Smith line from Independence Day “I gotta get me one of these”!

But it WAS hypnotic. As was watching 160kg of late hop Olicana going in (just before that pic was taken)

The power of the pumps meant that the wort was transferred swiftly into the FV (no 8) and then we were done.

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Having tasted the post hop wort, this will be fruity and hoppy, that is assured, with a decnt bitterness too. It will be approx 4.8% abv.

Two different artists. Painting with different colours

It will be called MCR Fold.

And you want it.

And, to treat yourself, go to the Manchester Beer Week Events page. There are some fabulous events scheduled. Things you simply will NOT want to miss.

Crown & Kettle – Bad Seed Tap Takeover (on now)

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I wasn’t supposed to go out last night. Honestly, I wasn’t. I was primed for East West Fest. But then I saw a tweet from Bad Seed. They had a tap take-over. At my favourite Manchester pub.

I had to go. Didn’t I?

I’ve loved the beers from Bad Seed, ever since I had the IPA and Espresso Stout bottles that I’d bought from Yorkshire Ales what seems like decades ago. Was it 3 years? Really? Stunning beers with the design quirk of a hanging tag draped over the bottle. A nice touch. Made the bottles stand out from the crowd.

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But design can be as good as you like, it doesn’t mean squat if the beer is crap. And these beers are as far from that…….

Had four of them last night. All superb. From the 7% abv IPA (£3 a pint?), earthy, fruity, lovely and bitter. Through the smooth Oatmeal Stout which – at 4% – was lovely and smooth. The kegged Farmhouse IPA was just how you’d want it. Fruity and with lovely yeasty spice.

This beer though, was the highlight.

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The collab with Wild Weather. Wild Seed (Electric Hopfenweisse). Simply put, one stunning hoppy wheat beer.

It was great to chew Chris’ ear off before he had to retreat home to York. I’m chuffed that we’ve got Bad Seed paired against Track at the Independent Salford Beer Festival EKF 5-a-Side collabs. As are they.

Take my advice. Get to the Crown & Kettle and get some Seeds down you.

You’ll thank me.

And isn’t this just the coolest phone case?

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East West Fest : 12-14/05/2016

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So. Here we are. Year 2. And my favourite beer festival of 2015.

Small. Intimate. Friendly. And full of soul.

I was truly flattered when I heard that the first Independent Salford Beer Festival was part of the inspiration for this celebration of Northern beer in 2015. What was even better was the vault of fond memories that I took away from last year. People who were previously acquaintances, now friends.

Good Beer People doing Good Things for Good Causes – this shit really is simple you know.

Held in Wakefield Labour Club about 5 mins walk from Westgate Station (on the East Coast mainline), this is really a small venue (max capacity 70 people) that lends itself to the noble art of friend making, laughing, joking ans swapping tales and tasting notes.

It’s like a 70 strong Untappd meeting. With real people, not keyboard warriors.

No pretence or artifice. No beer snobbery or arsiness. Just people enjoying exclusively (and exclusive!) Great Northern Beer. A subject that any regular reader of this blog will know is bound to tug at my heartstrings.

And the three of us who came over last year had a bloody great time!

I was immensely flattered to be asked again to choose the breweries from the Manchester area and hugely amused to learn that he wanted just breweries located under railway arches. Something that, as any Brewtap denizen will realise, we don’t lack over here. So, I gladly did my bit and I’m chuffed that each brewery I asked agreed to supply a beer.

East West Bar

What Malcolm has done for the White Rose contingent is HUGELY impressive to these eyes. And – given the beer list for Salford last year – I know how much work this is. He has gone for each of the beers to be collaborations. With himself. Now that – as well as running your own business – is bloody hard work. But when you peruse the beer list below, it looks well worth the effort.

So, you have an intimate venue and Good Beer People. But this is also for a couple of good causes.

Candlelighters

Candlelighters was founded more than 40 years ago by, and is still run by, parents of children who have or have had cancer and the medical staff who treat them. They help and support children who are diagnosed and their families through diagnosis and treatment at the Childrens Hospital in Leeds.

“Candlelighters is a big family. And like any family, we look after each other. Anyone touched by children’s cancer in Yorkshire, no matter how long ago, is considered a member. Our job? To bring this family together and make sure each person can get the support they need, whether that’s a funded holiday, or just a cup of tea and a chat.”

A fine cause

Newton Hill Cricket Club

“Newton Hill Cricket Club was established in 1902 and has played at its Leeds Road ground since 1926.
We are a small club with big ambitions, and pride ourselves on providing a friendly, safe and enjoyable place for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy cricket.”

The club is local to Malcolm and itself supports a number of good causes.

So what else do you need? Beer. And here’s the mouth-watering list.

East : Beer Collaborations Five Towns & (Brewery)

Brown Cow – Mammatus : Orange Wheat beer 4.5%
Cap House Brewery – Kol : Mild 4.3%
Rat Brewery – Rat Out : Rye IPA 5.8%
Brass Castle – Brass Monkey : Banana Pale Ale 4.3%
Revolutions Brewery – A New England : Golden Pale 4.5%
North Riding Brewery – Rum & Raisin Mild : Mild 4.2%
Wharfedale Brewery – Wharfedale Pale : Pale Ale 4.1%
James & Kirkman – Tickers Delight : IPA 6%
Anonymous – Always Mashing In The Same Car : IPA 7%
Clarks – Belleisle Pale : Pale Ale 4.5%

West : Underneath The Arches

First Chop Ale – Pod : Vanilla Stout 4.2%
Alphabet Brew Company – Hey Buddy : Ginger & Mango IPA 5%
Six O’Clock Beer – P45 Archer Pale 4.5%
Black Jack Brewery – May the 4th be Wit You : Black Wit beer 6%
Runaway Brewery – Summer Saison : Saison 4.2%
Track Brew Co – Mazama : IPA 6%
Beer Nouveau – Peterloo Porter : Porter 4%
Squawk Brewing Company – El Dorado : IPA 6%
Tickety Brew – Dampfbier : Steam beer 4.1%

So. There you have it. Intimate venue. Good Beer People. Good Causes and a simply GREAT looking beer list.

It starts on Thursday evening. So, if can possibly get to Wakefield, you REALLY should.

It’s that good.

But don’t drink all of that Rum & Raisin Mild. Because if you do, I’ll cry.

I’d better pick up my train tickets…..

My Favourite Manchester Pub

 

20160418_140700Manchester is a city blessed with some truly beautiful pubs. How to choose your favourite? You could quite easily torture yourself with this question. With stunning buildings like The Britons Protection, The Peveril of the Peak, The Lass O’Gowrie, The Hare and Hounds, The Marble Arch? All just lovely places to drink beer.

To get me in the gut, a pub has to have “soul” an almost indefinable quality. Let’s call it “feel”. It should have history. Therefore, it should be reasonably old.

It should also have good beer – obviously.

But, when all is said and done and you list all of Manchester’s really lovely hostelries, it comes down to a question. “Where do I drink the most”?

And that means….

The Crown & Kettle

There has been a pub on the “New Cross” junction of Great Ancoats Street and Oldham Street. since at least 1734, when this part of what we now know as Manchester was within the distinctly separate area of “Ancoates”. I quote…

“An interesting drawing hidden away from the public view in a volume stored in one of our public buildings” (now held at Manchester Libraries!) shows “….an alehouse with the curious designation of The Iron Dish and Cob of Coal”[1]

The image is faint, but the description in the book (a fine read) clearly relates to the view from Oldham Street to Newton Lane (now known as Oldham Road). It is also reasonably certain that this premises would occupy a fraction of the site of the current pub! At that time, “Ancoates” would have been little but a hamlet and not yet swallowed by its near neighbour.

It seems that the current building was built around 1800 and various historical sources have lists of the various licencees of “The Crown Vaults” or “The Crown Inn” in the mid-1800s. Ancoat(e)s at that time was notorious slum area heavily populated with immigrant Irish labourers and their families as was nearby Angel Meadow.

(There is also an image on the Band On The Wall website – dating from 1820 – clearly depicting a sign of a Crown and a Kettle next to market stalls for New Cross market)

The pub eventually became the property of Wilsons Brewery of Newton Heath and was known as very popular with Manchester City fans. An incident in 1989 inside the pub lead to a United fan getting (allegedly) stabbed and lead to the closure of the pub.

For 16 years. A large part of the reason for this prolonged closure being a fire attack on the pub causing extensive damage to the interior.

The pub came into the hands of the current owners in 2005 when – with the assistance of English Heritage (the building was Grade II Listed in October 1974) – it reopened for business.

I only really started going myself about two years ago or so. But in that small time, it has worked it charm and wormed its way into my heart.

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Victorian Gothic in style, the pub originally had a central bar for a large open space, but this was restructured internally to create 2 smaller rooms to the rear of the bar. The ceiling in the main room bears the scars of the 90s fire damage, ceilings on both sides having netting in place to protect against any of the ornate plaster work falling onto unwary customers. You can’t help but crane your neck to admire though. Truly beautiful.

The ceiling in the small rear room is intact (although still with protective netting) and another cricked neck is worth risking to admire its beauty.

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With the TV now effectively out of commission, this is a great place to indulge in some truly excellent beer and chat with friends – the normally unobtrusive background music is usually right up my street too!

The beers are sourced (mostly) from local Micros both on cask and craft keg – with many of my favourite local Micros like Tickety Brew, Track, Runaway etc – and there is an extensive selection of real ciders to choose from if fermented apple juice be your thing.

This pub just …… sums up Manchester to me.

It’s different. It’s got history. It’s damaged. It’s a survivor.

It has a Mancunian Soul.

And I love it.

[1] “Manchester Streets & Manchester Men” by T Swindells (1908)

(This piece was originally commissioned by  (and published on) Manchester Beer Week – an event created and driven by Connor Murphy.)

Come to Manchester between 10th – 19th June and get involved. It’s going to be special.

Like Manchester.

Hebden Rising – 30/04/2016

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Hebden Bridge. For a place that I’ve visited infrequently, it holds a special place in my heart.

You see, about 5 years ago, friends persuaded me to go on a walk to Heptonstall and then down to Hebden. And down is the key word here. Because I’m simply terrified of heights, and – in particular – drops.

On the final approach toward (what I think is named) Heptonstall Abbey, I sensed an ABYSS to my right. I daren’t look, I was frozen in terror. I leaned into the verge, grabbed handfuls of grass and pulled myself the final few yards until I reached safety. Face white as a sheet, I recuperated with a pint of Timothy Taylors in – to date – the only one of their pubs I’d ever been in.

Roll forward to last year. Following the death of my dear friend Phil, his son-in-law thought that it would be a great commemoration if we were to re-enact that walk. So we did, with prejudice on MY part!

We got to the point where we had to turn toward “The Abyss” and I balked. I froze. I couldn’t face it. Ashamed, I sought a flatter route. My friend (The aforementioned Son-in-Law) and his Dad joined me. Which was – it turned out – for the best as, when we got to the pub, my friend’s Dad (also a dear friend) had a heart attack. He survived, thankfully and remains one of the most decent people I know.

He survived. Like Hebden Bridge survived this..And it’s still heartbreaking to see the pictures and video.

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My understanding is – that following from the grievous floods of 2012 – many of the affected properties were uninsurable due to the risk. So the businesses of this beautiful town (founded during the reign of Henry VIII) are having to drag themselves up by their bootstraps. To raise themselves up from the horror of those floods. Hebden Rising, if you will from the waters that swamped the town on Boxing Day 2015.

And Hebden Bridge IS rising.

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Manchester was wet. the “Rainy City” living up to its name on this Saturday morning. But there was a train to catch, with a smile on my face, a song in my heart and tickets in my pocket.

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The walk into town was brisk, thirst inducingly so. It was also pretty. Hebden is an unarguably pretty place to be. Especially when the sun has got its hat on. And this morning, that hat was broad of rim. A beautiful day for a beer.

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What always struck me about this town was the sense of community. This might come from having a population of less than 5000 of course – the feeling that everybody knows everybody else. And gets on. This was exemplified in a Facebook conversation I had with one of our destinations which – when I discovered that we were going to be too early for opening time – happily suggested one of the others as a breakfast option!

I like that. Good people.

Kind of one of the reasons why I chose Hebden for the second leg of the “Northern Tour” (first “leg” viewable here – Liverpool). It’s like a literal ‘breath of fresh air’. Away from the usual Manchester haunts where you can get too comfortable, stuck in that Manchester bubble. Yes, I still believe that it is England’s premier beer city. But, every so often, you need to check yourself a bit. Try something different.

And Hebden Bridge is certainly that. Different.

There’s also this.

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(Market Street, Hebden Bridge. 26/12/2015 – Image courtesy of Amanda Ogley)

Boxing Day. 2015. Don’t mind saying that I wept, from the comfort of the in-laws Lincolnshire sofa. The scenes of torrents raging through the town is etched. The messages from businesses and people in the town adopted a hashtag. #HebdenRising

It stuck with me.

So I put it to some beery friends that we should have an away day. In this pretty little West Yorkshire town at the first opportunity.

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Old Gate (1-5, Old Gate)

Built of sandstone (typical of the town’s buildings) this is one handsome place from the outside. And – at 11:30 on Saturday morning – had the virtue of being open. So we entered, fully desirous of a cup of tea (on my part).

Then, crossing the stone-flagged floors, I saw the 8 handpulls. And Chop & Change (Cascade) by Vocation. And weakened. Sod the teapot. Give me a pint glass please. Yes, it was early. But I am but flesh and blood you know! (Despite what some may think)

The beer was lovely. Citrussy, dry and bitter. Vocation don’t let you down. The pub was more beautiful though.

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Stone-flagged floors, sandstone bar, this is a 3 properties simply opened up – but with 3 distinct areas. One end seemed to be coffee drinkers, the other end breakfasting. And then there was us. In the large middle section. Drinking beer. At 11:30am. Which, as I realised 12 hours later, is not big. Nor is it particularly clever. Oh but that Vocation was lovely though!

A quick chat with Ollie (Bar manager) told me that they were kind of expecting us. Having just nipped across the street to Drink to grab a pump clip from Martin the owner. That sense of co-operation again. It feels like a co-operative town. Like everyone has equal shares and looks after everyone else. It feels like my kind of town.

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Having had the Vocation – and most of the others (having arrived) being midway through their chosen refreshment, I kept it Yarkshire by opting for a swift Kirkstall Pale Ale. Another lovely refreshing beer, brewed by an under-regarded Leeds brewery in my humble. Never had a bad one from Kirkstall yet. A #ISBF2016 approach may be required I think.

I was ready to leave this lovely place. But Steve – the Karkli Sherpa of #ISBF2015 fame – needed to finish breakfast. A half of Un-Human Cannonball. I bowed down. Awestruck.

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(“What do you mean ‘It’s MY round?’ “)

The Fox & Goose (7, Heptonstall Road, Hebden Bridge)

It was about 3 years ago when this pub first entered my consciousness. Locals were battling to secure it as a Co-operative pub and raising awareness and looking for help. I re=tweeted a few messages at the time and – from the moment that they were successful in early 2014, I wanted to go and see West Yorkshire’s first co-operatively owned pub for myself.

It was worth the trip.

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Honestly! I really had NO idea that there was a beer festival on!

A rambling old pub. With 3 rooms (that I could see), a roof terrace with simply STUNNING views across the Calder valley. And barrel loads of that most indefinable of qualities. Soul. This pub certainly has that.

And, like I said, there was a beer festival going on in the pub. Timing is – as they say – everything.

The beers were all excellent. As were the Pork pies (more of that later). Mallinsons, Rat (the Ratsputin Imperial Stout HAD to be done!) and Wishbone. All superb. Which just left where to sit…..

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That view though.

Into the beer garden that felt like a roof terrace.

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Apart from good company and beer, what else could you want? And I had both.

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We also had a four-legged stalker.

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Meet Charlie. The pub dog with laser guided sight. On that Pork Pie. He got some – of course. How could you possibly refuse?

As I said. Soul. Tons of it in this pub. History, back story, original features to die for, loads of wood. It feels ancient. And loved. My kind of place. It’s a feeling thing.

Just don’t try walking up the Heptonstall Road. Have done it in a van. It feels VERTICAL.

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(Pic courtesy Martin Ogley)

Drink (15, Market Street, Hebden Bridge)

The first place I bought beer from in Hebden, early last year. Back then it was “just” a bottle shop – but with plans to become a bar. The plans came to fruition. Then came Storm Eva.

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(pic – Martin Ogley)

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And that’s how high the water got. Heartbreaking for a new business venture.

But, 4 months later…..

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Here we are. 2 local beers on cask, 3 on keg (+ Brooklyn Lager) and a bar that’s nice and busy. Just how it should be.

Although is IS open-plan downstairs, it feels like two rooms. Both being busy with conversation. Upstairs was busy too, with Martin (the owner) giving a private tutored beer tasting.

Martin has taken the “opportunity” afforded by the damage wreaked by Eva to move the bar from the front room to the rear, leaving the front to seating and the sale of bottles and cans. I *may* have bought one or two. Well…….

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(Essential reading material for some the next day….)

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(Maida Vale tube station – how very appropriate)

I like Drink. A cosy little new bar. Almost the polar opposite of The Fox & Goose and – with the keg offering – catering to a different crowd. But just as busy

The struggle through Eva has been worth the effort. And more than worth the walk.

Next – via an excellent Fish & Chips from the Crown Fisheries on Crown Street…..

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Calans Too (Machpelah Mill, Burnley Road, Hebden Bridge – Nr Train Station)

Normally located off Bridge Gate, Calans Micro Pub is still rising from the floods. Having just received clearance confirming that it is officially “dried out” work is due to start to put it back where it belongs. In the heart of town. The bar is tiny and charming. Worth the visit.

I really thought that we wouldn’t see Calans serving beer this weekend. But, true to the spirit in Hebden Bridge, they found a spot to set up a kind of “pop up” bar. In Machpelah Mill, just down some steps off the main road – just around from the Train Stn. On a lovely canal side spot!

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Another wee Beer Festival too. HONESTLY, I didn’t know!

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I was loving the mirrorball! It was nice to see Calans selling beer – wherever it was located. More Mallinsons in here. Excellent too. Friendly as well, like all the places we went in. This felt like family and friends pulling together to help the business through.

It felt right. Hopefully, the MicroPub itself should be up and running by June. It is well worth the visit – just opposite the St Pol car park on Bridge Gate.

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Next….and the final stop in Hebden for the day, this pretty little place…..

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Parcel Bar (Hebden Bridge Train Station)

And the end of this little Odyssey. Small. Perfectly formed. A refreshment room that steps into a telephone kiosk at 4pm, does a twirl and come out wearing a cape.

One hand pump (Wishbone – Rascal Pale Ale), loads of interesting bottles and cans. And chocolate. What else do you want?

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Another Sandstone building , a single room and cosy as a teapot cover. Initially sat outside – with the sun still shining, we only came inside to get out of the cold!

The Wishbone confirmed that I need to call them too for #ISBF2016. Lovely hoppy pale ale. The initial 10 companions were now down to a hardcore of 4 once CW (aka Jeff) and the lovely Maxine had run for their train – only just catching it! We were a mere single photobomb from being off ourselves…..

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(That bloody sun – never thought I’d whine about sunshine!)

A fine day. Everyone enjoyed themselves, the sun was out and Hebden Bridge looked lovely. As it always does.

Hebden has a bohemian feel to it. Lots of independent shops. Very few (if any) chains. Great bars and pubs and a vibrant arts scene.

It has survived yet another natural disaster. You get the feeling it always will. It feels like a community just came together, held hands, and willed themselves through it,

It will take more than Storm Eva to keep it down.

Hebden Bridge is – indeed – rising.

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Then – for the hardcore – Black Jack Brewtap. That’s for another day. But I love this view….

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Angel Meadow, Manchester, at night.

See you soon.