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Award-winning Locale pubs - Summer 2010

This edition of LocAle Spotlight shines upon CAMRA award winning hostelries in Keighley and Skipton. These towns are focal points in the local CAMRA branch area and boast a number of good pubs. Two of the very best are the Brown Cow in Keighley and the Narrow Boat in Skipton.

The Brown Cow, Keighley

Situated in the Aire Valley, Keighley sits at the confluence of the rivers Aire and Worth. Mentioned in the Domesday Book, the town evolved from a rural economy to a textile and manufacturing hub during the industrial revolution. Today it is a tourist destination by virtue of its close proximity to Haworth, home to the Brontë sisters of literary fame. It is a terminus of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway and for lovers of real ale the town also boasts four independent breweries: Timothy Taylor, Goose Eye, Old Bear and the newly opened Bridgehouse Brewery.

Located on the northern edge of the town centre the Brown Cow is an imposing Yorkshire-stone structure consisting of back-to-back cottages built in the early 1800s.By 1870 the four knocked-through cottages were officially listed as the Brown Cow in a trade directory. Timothy Taylor Brewery purchased the pub in 1901 and 109 years later it is still going strong. The pub is open-plan but with distinct drinking areas and a back room is available for private functions and meetings. The walls are decorated with mirrors and posters of beers and breweries of bygone eras. A roaring open fire greets you during the long cold winter months and the whole pub is clean and well-appointed. Barry, Carol and their friendly staff offer award-winning Timothy Taylor beers Golden Best, Best Bitter and Landlord on a permanent basis with Dark Mild and Ram Tam rotating in summer and winter respectively. There are two hand-pumps dedicated to ever-changing guest beers and the list of beers which have been on offer over the last six years will soon reach 1000. At least half of these qualified as LocAle because of the pub’s policy of dealing directly with local breweries such as Elland, Salamander and Bridgehouse.

Numerous CAMRA awards adorn the walls, the most recent being Pub of the Season Autumn 2009, the most prestigious being runner-up in Yorkshire Pub of the Year 2008. Listed in the Good Beer Guide, the pub has a friendly and relaxed atmosphere and although slightly off the town circuit it’s well worth finding. It is a ten minute walk from Keighley railway station, five minutes from Keighley bus station and has a car park for those wishing to drive. A “Super Saver Sunday” deal sees a different beer offered each week at a suitably super price. The pub quizzes held on the last Wednesday of every month are popular and a try before you buy policy allows customers to make a more informed choice. A selection of bottled foreign beer is also available. The Brown Cow is a well-run pub with excellent beer quality, a friendly and varied clientele and shouldn’t be missed.

Opening hours: From 4 pm Monday to Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon.

The Brown Cow, 5 Cross Leeds Street, Keighley BD21 2LQ Website: www.browncowkeighley.co.uk

The Narrow Boat, Skipton

Travel along the Aire valley ten miles to the northwest and you will find the town of Skipton. Also listed in the Domesday Book, it is known as the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales National Park and boasts 900 year old Skipton Castle, one of most complete and best preserved medieval castles in the country. A popular tourist destination, this ancient market town is situated on the river Aire and has the famous Leeds to Liverpool canal passing through it. Local independent brewery Copper Dragon is based in Snaygill Industrial Estate at the southern edge of the town.

Just a few minutes walk from the canal basin in the town centre and down a cobbled alleyway, sits the first pub ever opened by the small pub chain Market Town Taverns. The Narrow Boat opened in 1999 as a single bar with an upstairs gallery and an ethos of offering quality food and drink in simple and clean surroundings. Although not originally built as a pub, the interior has been sympathetically done with wooden floors, high ceilings, settles around the edges and canal murals as well as interesting beer posters and signs adorning the walls. There is neither piped music nor gaming machines, just good beer and conversation. Fairly recently the pub has been expanded into the premises next door with a new seating area and there is an upstairs function room which accommodates fifty. Landlord Tim Hughes runs the Narrow Boat and stocks local beers Copper Dragon Golden Pippin and Freddie Trueman Yorkshire Ale, Black Sheep Bitter and Timothy Taylor Landlord. Guest beers rotate on the other four hand-pumps, with at least one dark beer normally available. Most beers are from northern breweries many of which are local and direct delivery from the breweries helps keep the beer miles to a minimum. Samples of beers are freely given for those wishing to try before making a purchase. For those seeking something a bit different there is a large selection of both bottled and draught foreign beers. Regular music nights feature folk and jazz and a pub quiz is held every Wednesday evening. Freshly prepared food is available lunchtimes and evenings.

Good Beer Guide listed, the Narrow Boat has recently won a CAMRA Pub of the Season Award and many other awards adorn the walls from the past ten years. The bus station is a few minutes walk away with Skipton railway station a ten minute walk from the town centre. Locals and visitors alike praise the beer and hospitality in this well-run unpretentious pub, so drop into the Narrow Boat for a pint of local ale whenever you find yourself in Skipton.

Open daily 12 noon to 11.00 p.m.

The Narrow Boat, 36 - 38 Victoria Street, Skipton, BD23 1JE Telephone: 01756 797922 Market Town Taverns website: www.markettowntaverns.co.uk

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