On tour – Ale t’rail part I

This Christmas, I got the opportunity to tackle a pub ‘crawl’ up north I have been meaning to do for quite a while. (Probably since I saw James May & Oz Clarke do it on the tele). Over the course of an afternoon and evening, we leapt from train to train took in 5 rail side pubs. The route is as follows: Stalybridge Buffet; Huddersfield Head of Steam; Dewsbury West Riding; Leeds Wetherspoons; and finally Sowerby Bridge Jubilee Refreshment Rooms.

This entry covers just the first three.

Stalybridge Buffet

The buffet at Stalybridge used to be a semi-regular haunt of mine when I lived in Manchester.  It’s within the Greater Manchester area which meant cheap train fares and reasonably easy access.  It stocks a good range of ale plus a healthy selection of Belgian beers as well as a few traditional northern snacks.

Ale

Along the bar - Stalybridge Buffet

Our first stop of the day, it’s around 15 minutes from Manchester and in this case helpfully on the Yorkshire bound platform. It’s been around for a long time – the sign on the gable end proudly boasting since 1885. There’s a proper fire on – roaring away devouring Christmas tree on our visit!

Stalybridge Buffet

Stalybridge Buffet

Despite having packed a journalists notebook in an attempt to write this entry properly… I confess I totally forgot.  However, I did manage to remember later in the day having the Millstone Tiger Rut (local to Greenfield) and Harviestoun Haggis Hunter (definitely not local!). Both were excellent.

The Head of Steam, Huddersfield

A short train ride over the hill into Yorkshire brought us to Huddersfield.  Here we found the Head of Steam in the main station building and I remembered by notebook.

Head of Steam, Huddersfield

Head of Steam, Huddersfield

Of all the pubs we visited, the Head of Steam was probably our least favourite.  Despite being quite large and quite empty there wasn’t anywhere to sit apart from the dining area, where we weren’t given the warmest welcome. Beer-wise I plucked for a ‘Very Mild Monkey’ from Brass Monkey Brewery, Sowerby Bridge. Very smoky, dark tasting as much as it looked. It also seemed to taste a bit meaty! As we were in the dining area we obliged and bought a few snacks – possibly the worst nachos I have ever seen! The salsa had started to separate into a sticky red sugary mess, with some mashed tomatoes in the corner. Not awesome. Never mind, Dewsbury was only 10 minutes away…

The West Riding, Dewsbury

After possibly the most entertaining short train ride (‘buy a muffin, save a dog!’) all day we arrived at Dewsbury. Here, the modern signs pointed the way to the bar – why anyone would want to wait in the waiting room rather than the cosy bar I really don’t know…

Go left to the bar!

Go left to the bar!

The West Riding had a proper pub feel about it.  Plenty of people chatting and much merriment all around.  We even found another group doing the same as us – they thought we were stalking them! 8 hand pumps plus a selection ciders and foreign bottles gave plenty to choose from, though seeing Tim Taylor’s Dark Mild available I had to plump for that.  London’s pubs seem to manage to get hold of Landlord very easily – but rarely any of the others!

Along the bar - West Riding

Along the bar - West Riding

To be continued…

Date of visits: 30/12/2010

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2 thoughts on “On tour – Ale t’rail part I

  1. Ooooh, love the Stalybridge Buffet Bar! The last 2 times I’ve come back through there on a Sunday I’ve been so wildly hungover I could barely see, but was miraculously cured by popping in for a jar in that fine place.

  2. Stalybridge Buffet is a classic – good beer, good location and great atmosphere. My local (as sort of explained in the pub…) was the Red Lion Littleborough in part II.

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