Skipton Beer Festival comes round again soon, with a slightly earlier date than last year. Once again in Ermysted‘s Grammar School refectory, the festival will run from 3 p.m. on Thursday 20th April to 10 p.m. on Saturday 22nd April and will feature over 70 real ales, ciders and perries and foreign bottled beers. The school is on Gargrave Road, not far from Coach Street, less than ten minutes walk from the town centre.
For more information about admission, group bookings and the like, check the Skipton Beer Festival website.
In January we award our Winter Pub of the Season. This year‘s winner is the Falcon Inn, located in the pictoresque Dales village of Arncliffe in Littondale. The Falcon, run by Steve Hodgson and his wife, Joanne is unique in our area as the only pub serving beer from the cask via a jug. Two beers are available, Timothy Taylor Boltmaker (served via jug or handpump) and a guest ale, served via a second pump, often from Dark Horse Brewery. The internal layout is unaltered in decades with two tiny rooms around the bar and a separate lounge off the corridor. Food is simple and wholesome and a warm welcome is assured. The presentation was made on Sunday (29th January) and the whole Dale and 20 CAMRA members arrived to join Steve and Joanne in their celebration.
The media are full of nonsense about “Dry January”, staying dry for a month after the excesses of Christmas and New Year. This does nothing for licensees, their pubs and the breweries who supply them. Instead, go “Tryanuary”. Rather than stop drinking, try something new. If you drink lager, try real ale. If you drink golden ales, try a mild or a stout. And so on. Alternatively, just try a few different pubs to the ones you regularly visit. With the latter in mind, here are a few random suggestions of excellent pubs in our branch area which are normally off the radar:
The Bay Horse, Oxenhope - rescued from possible closure a couple of years ago, this community pub offers a good range of beers. It's on the 500 Bronte bus route which runs hourly from Keighley and Hebden Bridge until mid evening, so no need to drive.
The Goat‘s Head, Steeton - another community pub and a free house. Four beers are available, including a varying guest beer. If you fancy a meal, tie it in with a visit to Steeton Hall, which also sells a range of cask beers. Both pubs are very handy for Steeton and Silsden railway station and on various bus routes, so again no need to drive.
The Hare and Hounds, Lothersdale - Joe and Tracy Currie have been running this village local since 1996. It‘s a bit off the beaten track, unless you‘re walking the Pennine Way, which passes the door, but is well worth a visit. (They‘ve recently had a new carpet fitted, so if you are in your walking boots, please take them off at the door.)
The Royal Oak, Settle. Run by Country Village Inns, a tiny pub chain whose only other pub is in Ingleton, the Oak was substantially refurbished about three years ago. Featuring LocAles, it retains some historic panelling and a fairly unusual revolving door.
The Grassington House Hotel, Grassington. Ofter ignored by real ale drinkers, this upmarket hotel is well worth visiting. Hetton Pale Ale from Dark Horse brewery is always available alongside Thwaites Original and sometimes Wharfedale Blonde.
The Crown, Addingham. Three guest ales are usually available in this privately owned free house (bought out of PubCo ownership a few years ago). Check out the snug and “smoke room”, which earn the pub a listing on CAMRA‘s regional inventory of historic pubs. (Go through the door to the right of the bar to find them.)
Unfortunately, in the run up to Christmas, we have lost two pubs at the top of Wharfedale with the sudden departure of the licensees. The Buck in Buckden closed on Tuesday 6th December and, a couple of weeks later, the Tennants Arms at Kilnsey also closed its doors. We hope that new licensees can be found soon and will post information here as soon as we receive any. However, it is not all bad news: See below for news of the recent re-opening of five pubs which closed earlier in 2016.
The UK is losing around 20 pubs every week. Many of these are still viable businesses but property developers can make a fast profit by turning them into offices, housing, supermarkets, fast food outlets, betting shops etc…and many of these can be done without planning permission, leaving local communities powerless to stop them. Listing a pub as an Asset of Community Value with the local council can make a difference in preventing a pub from closing. If your local pub is threatened, find out more about how to do this. NOTE: Our last Pub of the Season (Summer/Autumn 2016), the Willow Tree at Riddlesden, is listed as Asset of Community Value.
Phil Booth, licensee at the Boltmakers Arms Keighley for the past 11 years, left the pub on 19th November. The “Bolts” closed for a minor refurbishment and re-opened on Monday 12th December under the management of Kathy and Craig Smith, who many of you will know from the Goat‘s Head at Steeton. At the other end of the branch area, in Settle and Giggleswick, we say farewell to Barbara Reynolds at the Hart‘s Head and to Russell and Rosie East at the Talbot Arms.
Russell and Rosie took over the Talbot in September 2011, after it had been closed and boarded up for several months, and since re-opening it at Easter 2012, have built up a great reputation for beer and good-value food. The Talbot has featured in the last three Good Beer Guides and is our current Pub of the Year. The new licensees, Tony and Janette Clarke (and their family), took over the Talbot on a wild and wet Monday 21st November. Tony has been in the licensed trade in and around pubs since his mid teens, his most recent position being at the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford. Tony and Janette plan to maintain the 5/6 hand pumps and to continue to source their beers from the Yorkshire, South Cumbria and East Lancashire areas.
Barbara took over the Hart‘s Head in 1997 and since then it has featured in many Good Beer Guides. The pub has been bought by Cricketers Inns, who also own the Plough at Lupton, near Kirkby Lonsdale and the Crown and Kettle, a cask ale pub in Manchester. The new licensees are Dean and Susan. Regular beers are now Black Sheep Best Bitter and Ilkley Mary Jane and there are three to four locally sourced guest beers. A refurbishment is planned for the spring.
The Autumn has proved to be a busy time for some of our closed pubs. We welcome new licensees at the Railway in Skipton, the Bay Horse, Sutton-in-Craven and the Marquis of Granby, Riddlesden all of which closed earlier this year. The end of October also saw the long-heralded re-opening of the Royal Oak in Haworth as the Mill Hey Brewhouse, following closure in 2015 by the pub-owning company and the devastating flood on Boxing Day 2015, which created a large hole in the wall. Now in private ownership, the Mill Hey Brewhouse has been practically rebuilt from the bottom up. Four cask beers are available. Directly behind the Brewhouse, you will discover the latest new bar in our area, the Three Barrels Bar and Chaplin‘s Function Suite, which offers two cask beers. Finally, on the 24th November the Waggon and Horses above Oxenhope, which was temporarily closed earlier this year, re-opened its doors.
September 15th saw the launch of the latest edition of the CAMRA Good Beer Guide, the premier guide to pubs selling real ale in the UK. Listing 4500 pubs, both urban and rural the Good Beer Guide is revised and updated each year by CAMRA volunteers up and down the country. The Guide also has a comprehensive list of UK breweries. Local CAMRA members help select the 22 pubs which feature in the Keighley and Craven area. Click the image (left) to buy...
A popular community local, the first in our branch area to be designated an Asset of Community Value, has been awarded branch Pub of the Season for Summer 2016: the Willow Tree, Riddlesden, perched high above the Aire Valley at the top of Riddlesden village, builds on the Improved Pub award it gained in October 2013. Run by Sean Cassidy since it re-opened after a long closure in October 2012, the Willow Tree serves 4 beers, 3 of them usually from Bridgehouse, and has a great community focus. Sean manages the pub for leaseholders Julie Kelly and Marie Townsend and is now aided by assistant manager, Rebecca Whitely. Julie and Marie are behind the tasteful refurbishment which was completed in January this year. The award was presented on Wednesday 21st September 2016.
Skipton Beer Festival returned to Ermysted‘s Grammar School Refectory on Gargrave Road for a second time over the weekend 2nd to 4th June. Customers enjoyed not only the beer and cider, but also the fine weather, with more customers outside soaking up the sunshine on Saturday afternoon than inside. Joint Beers of the Festival as voted by our customers were One Inch Punch from the Tiny Rebel brewery in Gwent, South Wales and Toffee Mild from Naylors in Cross Hills. On the Thursday the festival also hosted the regional judging of Mild beers for the Yourkshire and North East region in which a panel of 6 judges selected Rudgate Ruby Mild as the top Mild in the area.
Provisional dates for next year‘s festival are 20th to 22nd April 2017 in the same venue.
Spring is when Keighley and Craven CAMRA present our annual Pub and Club awards of which there are three.
Branch Pub of the Year 2016 goes to the Talbot Arms in Settle. The award was presented to Rosie and Russell East on Sunday 29th May and the pub now goes forward to the regional competition. The Talbot also won our most recent Pub of the Season. For more information about the place, check out the article for that...
Branch Club of the Year 2016 has been awarded to the Three Links Club, Skipton. This is only our second Club of the Year award, and the Three Links Club has won both of them! It now goes on to the regional Club of the Year competition in which it fared very well last year. The award was presented on Tuesday 19th April - see photo. More information about the club can be found in the item on last year‘s presentation.
Our newest award, Community Pub of the Year, was presented to the Kings Arms, Silsden on Sunday 1st May. This award commemorates the life of branch member, Lynda Smith who died last December, and who was an ardent supporter of good community pubs and good cask beer. The Kings Arms was one of her favourites and we are sure she would approve of the branch‘s decision. With 6 regularly changing cask beers and a cider on offer, the Kings Arms scores on the beer front. It has a great clientele mix and community atmostphere, hosts popular events most evenings of the week and a variety of local groups use the upstairs room to meet.
Continuing the flood of new real ale outlets, two new micro-pubs opened in Skipton during Spring 2016, whilst in Silsden, a cafée bar opened in a former bank. Skipton‘ latest arrivals are the Boat House (pictured), on the canal basin (through an arch from the Branch end of Coach Street) and Early Doors on Newmarket Street, just along from Wetherspoons. Both have at least four beers on handpulls. In Silsden, the Counting House opened in March. Weekday hours are fairly restricted at the moment, but with four beers on handpump and evening opening until eleven on Friday and Saturday, the Counting House provides a welcome addition to the already keen real ale and pub scene in Silsden and further compensates for the loss of the Bridge and the Grouse in recent years.
On Tuesday 12th April, branch Pubs Officer, Richard Candeland presented Luke Reid at the Red Lion, Silsden with an Improved Pub award. Luke, assisted by partner Megan and his parents Paul and Julie, took over the Lion when it re-opened following a refurbishment on August Bank Holiday 2015. Under his hand, what was a struggling pub has been transformed into a vibrant community venue serving 4 real ales in consistently good condition. The Improved Pub award is presented only occasionally and was last awarded by the branch in September 2014. Read more... (The picture shows from left to right: Richard, Luke, Megan, Julie, Paul.)
On 17th March, Keighley and Craven CAMRA, with the help of Rosie and Russell at the Talbot Arms and the Settle Town Mayor, Ian Robison, were proud to host the launch of Yorkshire Pub Walks, the latest publication from CAMRA books, and the sixth in the “Pub Walks” series. Written by CAMRA member and keen walker, Bob Steel, the book features 25 short walks from around Yorkshire, some rural and some in urban areas. The walks have been selected for their scenic or historic interest, but also include recommendations for three or four pubs to visit on the way, all of which are guaranteed to sell well-kept real ale. Four of the walks are in the Keighley and Craven area: three in the Yorkshire Dales and one in Brontë country.
The pocket-sized book is well-presented with lots of stunning photographs, easy-to-follow maps and clear text. If you like walking and enjoy a beer and live in or are visiting Yorkshire, the book is for you. Alternatively, it would make an ideal gift for someone who likes to mix a bit of exercise with a decent pint. The book retails at £9.99 and can be purchased on-line via the CAMRA shop. A limited supply, some signed by the author, will be available at the forthcoming Skipton Beer Festival.
The photo shows author Bob Steel and Settle Mayor, Ian Robinson at the launch of the book.
Also in Settle, the recently established Settle Brewery has won a major award in a national competition. Each year SIBA (the Society of Independent Brewers) holds a national competition to choose the best beers brewed by its members in various categories. The competition has two stages, a set of regional rounds, held in Autumn, and a national final, held in March. At the regional competion, held at the York CAMRA beer festival on York racecourse last September, Settle‘s No. 4 Amber Ale won Gold in its class, Standard Bitters and Pale Ales, and so won a place in the national final. It was also judged overall Silver in the final run-off of all the beers sampled. At the National Competition last month in Sheffield, No. 4 fought off all but one of the competition from the other (seven) regions to take the Silver Award. This is a huge accolade, of which brewer Ian Simpkiss and his colleagues should be proud.
No. 4 Amber Ale is a tasty 3.7 Bitter, which is often available in various pubs in an around Settle and in the wider Dales and Lancashire area. Why not look out for it and give it a go, or if you run a pub, why not try it on your bar. The full results can be found here.
Autumn 2015 saw a flurry of activity and investment in the pubs in Keighley and Craven:
Newly opened in December were two micro-pubs: Gallagher‘s Ale House in Cross Hills is the latest venture from Steve Banks and Janet Langton, owners of Skipton‘s Beer Engine. Meanwhile in Haworth, Al‘s Alehouse opened in the River Street Café. Being micropubs, both have restricted opening hours, so check the links above to WhatPub for more information.
At the north-eastern corner of our branch area, the White Lion in Cray re-opened after a long period of closure. The White Lion closed shortly after the Tour de France passed by and re-opened on Christmas Eve following a major refurbishment and we heartily welcome its return. It is open all day, every day.
Substantial refurbishments were also completed at the Red Lion in Silsden, which is now in the keen hands of Luke Reid, the Devonshire in Grassington, now owned by Timothy Taylor and managed by Pickles Pubs and the Airedale Heifer in Sandbeds (coincidentally on yet another edge of our area), new home of Bridgehouse brewery.
Why not check them out - they've made the investment, now they need your custom! (The links in the text go to the pubs‘ respective entries on WhatPub - follow these for more information on opening times, beer range, facilities and so on.)
At our June 2015 meeting, members of Keighley and Craven CAMRA voted Skipton‘s Beer Engine, which opened in spring last year, as Pub of the Season for Summer 2015. Run by Steve Banks and Janet Langton (pictured), this tiny micro-pub offers 5 real ales alongside cider, wine and bottled beers (but no spirits) in a convivial atmosphere. On the beer front, there is always a dark beer available, and often something “different”. The Beer Engine is located on Albert Steet, just off Coach Street (and round the corner from the better-known Narrow Boat). Check out WhatPub for directions and opening hours. The award was presented on Thursday 10th September.
For our first endeavour in Clubs campaigning within the Branch, we are delighted to announce that the Three Links Club has gained this award. It now goes forward as an entry into the Regional Club Of The Year, and we wish them the very best of luck in this competition.
It is the home and meeting place for Skipton and District Lodge of the Oddfellows Society. The club offers a relaxed atmosphere and a very warm welcome to its members and visitors alike. It has worked very hard on the quality of its cask ale selection and serves Craven Bitter and Hetton Pale Ale on handpump from the local Dark Horse Brewery at Hetton in excellent condition. Both are selling equally well.
The club offers a number of activities for members and visitors, and these include: whist groups, Quiz Nights, Zumba exercises, Ukelele group, craft mornings, fish & chip Bingo, and live music events. Facilities include a function room for hire, as well as the large, comfortable lounge bar.