Monday, September 26, 2011
GOOD BEER GUIDE HIGHLIGHTS 2012
It's back - the new Camra Good Beer Guide, second only to the Bible in terms of following the righteous path to heavenly places.
Manchester has perhaps the most interesting changes this year, with the north of the city centre looking a real ale hotspot.
57 Thomas Street and Common are both new in this year. The former shouldn't work being so small (room for about 30-40 people), but it's delightful and from the Marble empire. The latter has gone from the deliberately shabby look, with a bar that appears to be made up of board from riot-ravaged windows and cheap garden chairs in the main bar space. It's a friendly enough place, with a concentration on Continental beers and bottles rather than handpulled - but there's a fine line between shabby chic and bag of shite.
With The Castle, Bar Fringe, the Smithfield (now there is a pub that doesn't worry about Northern Quarter beanbaggery) and the slightly tired Crown and Kettle in the Guide (and Port St which should be in the Guide next year) - there's a decent selection of pubs in that part of town.
Elsewhere in Manc, there are returns for old favourites Peveril of the Peak, the Grey Horse and the Rising Sun.
There's a shake-up in Halifax with the Shears returning and the Westgate and Wetherspoon-owned Barum's Top also new entries.
Veritas is the best of the new entries in Leeds (great grub too), with The Hop, Hunslet's Garden Gate and Fox and Newt (Burley) also new 'uns.
In Huddersfield and surrounding areas, I'm glad to see the mighty Sair (pictured), in Linthwaite returning. So what if there were occasional hiccups with beer supply (I'm not sure Linfit Beers are on at the moment), it's a magical pub and it should never have been left out last year.
Marsh Liberal Club is back in the Guide while The Swan in Slaithwaite drops out.
The GBG remains the best guide for beer and pubs and as it says in the intro, where the beer's good everything else - decor, food, staff - is usually good as well.
But is it time to include pubs and bars without cask/handpulled beer? Good boozers, with a wide array of interesting (usually non-British) kegs and bottles are missing out, while manky pubs which happen to have a handpull are in.
A prime example of this is the Cherry Tree and Vox.
The former is a dreadful Wetherspoons, in the Guide for its decent beer but not a place where you'd want to stay for more than a half because it's like sitting in a soulless school canteen being gawked at by ageing hardmen with saggy faces.
Next door is Vox, a bar who relax in as soon as you walk in - it's got a lived-in feel, great music and great beer - but no cask, so no chance of an entry into The Good Beer Guide.
Yes the Guide is mainly about beer but it's also about decor, mix of people and feel of the place and the Cherry Tree gets in while Vox misses out.
Moving on. In Sheffield, the station Tap is, not surprisingly, a new entry (although it has a slightly artificial ye olde feel and is not a patch on West Yorkshire's rail ale pubs) and I'll have to look out for Henry's - a new entry in the city centre.
The fabulous and characterful Old Cock is Otley's new entry, while the lovely Bull and Fairhouse is Wakefield's new kid on the block.
In York, newbies are Last Drop Inn, Phoenix, Slip Inn and Three-Legged Mare, while there are plenty of changes in Wigan with new 'uns the fabulous Bowling Green, Millstone and Tudor House.
My picks are all the pubs in Huddersfield, Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield, Halifax and a few other towns, villages, and suburbs in West Yorkshire. Plus all the pubs in Manchester, Salford, Sheffield, Wigan, Southport, Skipton, York most in West Lancashire, a few in North West Wales, and a small selection of the best Guide pubs I've visited in London recently.
I've only chosen the cities, towns and villages I visit, or am likely to visit, over the next 12 months, so sorry Castleford, Cleckheaton, Bingley and a few others - you're not down here. But if I choose a place, all its pubs are included.
I've lumped all the Huddersfield pubs together - keeping Holmfirth, Marsden, Meltham and Mirfield separate - and all the Leeds pubs (so that's including Burley, Chapel Allerton, Headingley, Holbeck, Kirkstall, Newlay, Rodley and Woodhouse).
NEW - pubs new in this year's guide.
Dropping out - in last year but not this year.
Pubs in bold - my own Olthwaite Golden Shovel winners (see best pubs - to be update soon)
Castle Hotel, City Vaults, Corn Dolly, Fighting Cock, Haigy’s, New Beehive Inn, Sir Titus Salt.
Dropping out: Shoulder of Mutton
Old Ship Inn, Red Rooster, Richard Oastler
Huntsman, Leggers Inn, Shepherds Boy, West Riding Refreshment Rooms, pictured.
Drop Inn NEW
Dropping out: Barge and Barrel
Barum Top (Wetherspoon's)- NEW, Big Six, Shears - NEW, Three Pigeons, pictured, Westgate - NEW, William IV.
Dropping out: Sportsman (Swalesmoor)
Fleece, Haworth Old Hall Inn - NEW
HEBDEN BRIDGE: Moyles - NEW, New Delight Inn, Stubbing Wharf - NEW
Town Street Tavern
Dropping out: Old Kings Arms
HUDDERSFIELD and adjoining villages/areas:
Beaumont Arms (Netherton), Cherry Tree, Commercial (Slaithwaite), Grove, Kings Head, Marsh Liberal Club - NEW Rat and Ratchet, Sair (Linthwaite)- NEW, Sportsman , Star Inn (Lockwood. Folly the pub dog pictured), Swan (Slaithwaite), White Cross (Bradley).
Dropping out: Swan (Slaithwaite)
Bar T’at, Riverside Hotel
Boltmakers Arms, Brown Cow, Cricketers Arms
Dropping out: Livery Rooms
Abbey (Newlay), Arcadia (Headingley), Chemic (Woodhouse), Fox and Newt (Burley)- NEW Grove (Holbeck), Further North (Chapel Allerton), Garden Gate (Hunslet) - NEW, Hop - NEW, Midnight Bell (Holbeck), Mr Foleys Cask Ale House, North Bar, Owl (Rodley), Palace, Regent (Chapel Allerton), Rodley Barge (Rodley), Scarborough, Templar, Town Hall Tavern, Veritas - NEW, Victoria, Whitelocks.
Dropping out: Cross Keys (Holbeck), Reliance, Three Hulats (Chapel Allerton), West End House (Kirkstall)
Navigation Tavern, Old Colonial
Shoulder of Mutton
Junction, Manor House, Old Cock - NEW
Fanny’s Ale House, Victoria
Shipley Pride, Sir Norman Rae
Firehouse, Jubilee Refreshment Rooms, White Horse, Works - NEW
Dropping out: Puzzle Hall Inn (pictured), Shepherd’s Rest
Black Rock, Bull and Fairhouse - NEW, Fernandes Brewery Tap, Harry’s Bar, The Hop, Labour Club
Dropping out: Alverthorpe WMC, O'Donoghues.
Also Dropping out: Thurstonland - Rose and Crown
REST OF YORKSHIRE
Ball Inn (West, Crookes), Bath Hotel, Carlton (East), Champs Sports Bar (West), Cobden View (West - Crookes), Devonshire Cat, Fat Cat, Francis Newton (Wetherspoon) - NEW, Gardeners Rest (North), Harlequin, Henry's - NEW, Hillsborough Hotel (North), Kelham Island Tavern, New Barrack Tavern (North), Old House, Ranmoor Inn (West), Rawson Spring (North - Hillsborough) Red Deer, Rising Sun (West), Rutland Arms, Sheaf View (South - Heeley), Sheffield Tap - NEW, University Arms (West), Wellington (North), York (West, Broomhill) - NEW
Dropping out: Fox and Duck (West - Broomhill), Museum, Walkley Cottage (West), White Lion (South - Heeley)
Narrow Boat, Red Lion
Dropping out: Devonshire
Blue Bell, Brigantes Bar, Golden Ball, Last Drop Inn - NEW, Maltings, Minster Inn, Phoenix - NEW, Rook and Gaskill, Slip Inn - NEW, Swan Inn, Three-Legged Mare - NEW, Waggon and Horses
Dropping out: Tap and Spile, Yorkshire Terrier
57 Thomas Street - NEW, Angel, Bar Fringe, Bulls Head, Cask - NEW, Castle Hotel, City Arms, Common - NEW, Crown and Kettle, Grey Horse - NEW, Knott, Marble Arch, Micro Bar, Old Wellington, Paramount, Peveril of the Peak - NEW, Rising Sun - NEW, Sand Bar, Smithfield Hotel, Waterhouse
Dropping out: Dutton, Jolly Anglers, Odd, Piccadilly
Crescent, King’s Arms, New Oxford, Racecourse Hotel (Lower Kersal), Star (Higher Broughton)
Dropping out: Black Lion
Old Hunter’s Tavern, Stalybridge Labour Club, Stalybridge Station Buffet Bar
Anvil, Boulevard, Bowling Green - NEW, Brocket Arms, Millstone - NEW, Royal Oak, Tudor House - NEW
Dropping out: Berkeley, Crooke Hall Inn, Moon Under Water
SOUTHPORT AND WEST LANCASHIRE
SOUTHPORT: Barons Bar, Bold Arms (Churchtown), Cheshire Lines, Guest House, Lakeside, Sir Henry Segrave, Volunteer - NEW, Willow Grove, Windmill.
Dropping out: Masons Arms
AUGHTON: Derby Arms, Stanley - NEW. Dropping out: Dog and Gun
BISPHAM GREEN: Eagle and Child
BURSCOUGH: Farmers Arms - NEW, Hop Vine
CROSTON: Lord Nelson
MAWDESLEY: Black Bull, Robin Hood
ORMSKIRK: Disraelis, Greyhound, Queens Head.
PARBOLD: Stocks - NEW, Wayfarer. Dropping out: Windmill
RUFFORD: Hesketh Arms
WESTHEAD: Prince Albert.
WRIGHTINGTON: White Lion
Dropping out: SCARISBRICK: Heaton’s Bridge
NORTH WEST WALES
BANGOR: Boatyard - NEW, Fat Cat - NEW, Mostyn Arms, Tap and Spile. Dropping out: Abbeyfield
BEAUMARIS: Old Bulls Head
CAERNARFON: Black Boy Inn
CONWY: Old White House.
LLANDUDNO: Cottage Loaf - NEW, Kings Head
MENAI BRIDGE: Bridge Inn, Victoria Hotel
RED WHARF BAY: Ship Inn
LONDON: 7 BEST
Calthorpe Arms, Bloomsbury
Dog and Duck, Soho
Holly Bush, Hampstead
Red Lion, Ealing
Royal Oak, Borough
Star Tavern, Belgravia
Traveller's Friend, Woodford Green
Pictures: Camra (book)