Sunday, 4 June 2023

White Rose Country

Four days into June and still no sign of a blog post, although there's a couple of drafts in various stages of preparation. There seems to have been an absence of anything worthy to write about, although that could change next week, when the Bailey clan head off to the land of the Tykes, otherwise known as “God’s own country.”

We’re actually setting foot in the north country for a family funeral, the deceased being Mrs PBT’s Aunty Kathleen. She was a lovely, quietly-spoken lady who passed peacefully away a couple of weeks ago; just two months shy of her 100th birthday. There must be something in the air up in “them thar hills,” as she always looked hale and hearty, so in an attempt to find that secret of eternal youth, we’ll be spending a few days in the area between Bingley and Keighley.

It’s been five years since we were last up that way, and despite the sadness that surrounds a funeral, it will be good to catch up with the northern branch of Eileen’s family. I’ve drawn the short straw with the driving again, despite Matthew having acquired a new car. I don’t tend to do that many long-distance road trips these days, the last one having been a short holiday to Barry Island, last September. Instead, I much prefer travelling by train, but that’s not really practical for a stay that will necessitate having the flexibility that only a privately-owned car can bring.

As far as beer and pubs are concerned, I shall just play things by ear, and go with the flow. I am aware we’ve been invited for a family meal on the evening after the funeral, and the venue will be the Airedale Heifer, an extensive roadside alehouse, with its own brewery (Bridgehouse), situated in a building behind the pub. We enjoyed a meal there, with Eileen’s Yorkshire relations, on our last visit, so we know both the food and the beer are of a high standard. There is the issue of driving there, as even though it’s only a 10-minute walk from the Premier Inn we’re staying at, Mrs PBT’s does have a few mobility issues these days. I shall probably order a taxi for her, and walk there myself, as that way, I can sample a few of the Heifer’s house-brewed ales.

I mentioned earlier that there wasn’t much to write about, but on reflection that isn’t quite true, as there’s been a couple of “good news” stories that have broken recently. The first story has an appropriate Tyke connection, as it relates to the embattled Black Sheep Brewery of Masham, North Yorkshire. After calling in administrators at the start of last month, Black Sheep has been acquired by London-based investment firm Breal Capital and will continue to trade under the same name. Breal has a proven track record of successfully transforming and growing the businesses it acquires, so fingers crossed they can turn Black Sheep’s fortunes around.

A spokesperson for the brewery said: "This marks the next chapter in the history of Black Sheep as we look to grow the business in a sustainable way. Our team will continue to produce great beers from our landmark brewery in Masham, North Yorkshire and we also look forward to welcoming customers and tourists to all our retail sites.”

The other good news story concerns major brewer and pub owner, Greene King, as this summer the company will be the first major cask brewer to offer its beers in 4.5-gallon casks, or pins. With the pub sector still feeling the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, and consumers making fewer visits to their local pub, GK believe that the introduction of pins will have a tangible effect on the cask ale market. Containing just 36 pints, half the size of the industry standard 9-gallon casks, pins will ensure a faster turnover of each cask, thereby enabling licensees to deliver a range of fresh cask beer to customers, whilst at the same time minimising wastage.


As proof of their commitment to this scheme, Greene King are making a seven-figure investment in order to bring it to fruition. CAMRA have been advocating this type of initiative for many years, so it will be interesting to see how it pans out, but on that note, I shall call it a day, as the work I’ve been performing outside needs my attention. 

It involves sorting out both our shed and our summerhouse, and is one of those long-overdue, “must-do” tasks. Fortunately, it’s nearing completion, but it did involve a bit of time-consuming, construction and repair work. That, gentle reader is the main reason why posts haven’t been as frequent as they might otherwise have been, but there is something virtuous in ticking this particular task off from my extensive list of jobs.



T'other Paul said...

Your mention of Keighley reminds me that I was there last Tuesday. I didn't think much of Taylors on the Green but did well for the Dark Mild and the Ram Tam in the Fleece at Haworth.

Paul Bailey said...

Thanks for the recommendation Stafford Paul. Haworth is on Mrs PBT's list of places to re-visit, and mine too, come to think of it, so I shall do my best to ensure we call in at the Fleece.

I wonder whether Ram Tam will still be on, at this time of year, though.

T'other Paul said...

I've mentioned elsewhere that last Tuesday "My Golden Best in the Fleece was as good as a proper session beer could be while the Ram Tam tasted far richer than I’ve ever known the “caramelised Landlord” to be". It was also part of the full range, though badged Landlord Dark, in Taylors on the Green though probably too cold there like the Dark Mild. There might also be the full range on in the Woolly Sheep at Skipton.
You could make a week of it and get round all their nineteen pubs.

Paul Bailey said...

Skipton is also on our list Paul, having missed the town on our previous visit to Yorkshire.

retiredmartin said...

The news about Black Sheep is indeed encouraging, Paul, if only believe the folk deserve some good fortune for their unwavering support to cask over many years, and the fact their bitter is one of the most reliable on my travels.

I did visit the Airedale Heifer, very upmarket, but didn't write about it for some reason.