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Branch chair Colleen presents the Pub of the Season Winter 2018/9 plaque to the staff at the Wuthering Heights, Stanbury, February 2019

Branch chair Colleen presents the Pub of the Season Winter 2018/9 plaque to Nicci and Darren at the Wuthering Heights, Stanbury, February 2019

The Brown Cow, Keighley: the best little country pub in town?

Ruggie writes: “No, I didn‘t nominate this pub for the award, or even vote for it. That wouldn‘t have been fair: I‘m much too biased. Having given the proprietors a bit of help with paintbrush and shovel when they first moved in, I drank some of the first pints on their re-opening day and since then have been rather reluctant to venture elsewhere. After all, I only need to pass half a dozen other pubs to get there. However, that‘s no reason why I shouldn‘t do this write-up....”

The Brown Cow, Keighley.Barry Smith and Carol Taylor-Smith have been running the Brown Cow since November 2003. (They were then Barry and Carol Taylor, but that‘s another story.) With some slight relaxation of K&C CAMRA‘s usual “6 months‘ probation” rule, because we thought they deserved it, we managed to squeeze the pub into the 2005 Good Beer Guide. It‘s been re-voted into every edition since (these things don‘t happen automatically), so this year‘s entry is its tenth. Barry and Carol like to describe the Brown Cow as “a country pub in town”, and it is indeed in quite a leafy setting, though the description could also refer to its relaxed and friendly atmosphere even at busy times. In a respectable but not always entirely genteel town like Keighley, the “no bad language” policy definitely helps.

Having taken the Timothy Taylor tenancy in the hope that they may at some time buy the freehold, Barry and Carol finally did this in January last year. The three regular Taylor‘s brews remain, but instead of two guest real ales there are now four (plus the Taylor‘s) at any one time: one pump usually dispenses a dark mild, while the other three feature a variety of styles and strengths with one beer more often than not at 5% alcohol or over sometimes seriously over. If in doubt, ask for a taste of any draught product. On Sundays, the beer on one pump - this beer may change more than once in the course of the day - is sold at “super saver” price: £2.10 at the time of writing.

Also since the purchase from Taylor‘s, real cider or perry from smaller producers has become regularly available, often from Broadoak of Somerset or Gwynt y Ddraig of Glamorganshire. At £3.10 a pint it‘s not bad value, given that it averages around 7% alcohol. Not, you must understand, that alcohol content per se is of any great importance to discerning drinkers like you and me...

If you feel your taste buds flagging after all these lovely drinks, why not refresh your jaded palate with a nice hot cup of tea or coffee? Mind you, the price may not be quite what you were expecting, so you can probably put that pound note back in your purse.

Too much information?

Previous awards: too many to list here, but including runner-up CAMRA Yorkshire Pub of the Year, having been narrowly pipped to the top spot by a pub in Sheffield which went on to win that year‘s national award.

Food: crisps, nuts and pieces of pigskin.

Dog-friendly? Yes, but watch out for the occasional guinea pig.

Wi-Fi access: free for bona fide customers, once they‘ve memorised the illogically spelt password.

Bar staff: alphabetically, after Barry, Carol and Family the current line-up is Julie, Mark and Paul.

Distance from Tour de France route: approximately 100 yards (0.09144 kilometres), but marginally within sight. On 6th July, feel free to become mildly excited for a few seconds, then get yourself another pint.

The presentation: will take place on Wednesday 19th March at approximately 8.30 p.m..

Ruggie Boyle

The Brown Cow, 5 Cross Leeds St. Keighley BD21 2LQ. Web-site: View the Brown Cow on WhatPub

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