2010 Wakehorett Golf Cart Ale Trail

Rob’s Beer Blog #1

Sadly the golf carts didn't arrive and we had to travel pub to pub by taxi

Masterminded by Sea Wolves front man Dave Stringer this was a planned ale trail around a much forgotten hot bed of West Yorkshire’s beer and brewing. Ossett is obviously the home for Ossett Brewery but also the home of Bob’s Brewery.

I lived most of my life in the Wakefield area before moving to Saltaire but I’ve never been drinking in either Ossett or Horbury so when Dave suggested a day boozing there then ending up in Wakefield I jumped on the train and headed over. Not only was this day a great chance to visit some new pubs but a good excuse to catch up with old friends.

First pub was The Tap, an Ossett Brewery owned pub. As expected the range was dominated by Ossett beers, Silver King, Excelsior, Pale Gold and Yorkshire Blonde. A few guest ales sat alongside including Fullers London Pride. I opted for halves of Silver King (a favourite of mine) and Pale Gold. It was 12 noon and I think my half of Silver King had been sitting in the pipes over night and wasn’t in good condition but Pale gold did the job and a great beer to start the session with at 3.8%.

We supped up, jumped in a taxi and took a short trip to The Brewer’s Pride. A traditional pub with a slightly schizophrenic interior split between traditional and sligtly tacky modern touches, a bit confusing. I was rather excited to visit here after reading about the impressive line up of nine pumps. Available on the day were brews from Coach House Brewery, Leatherbritches, Hopback, Bridestones a few more and permanent offerings in the shape of Rudgates Rudy Mild and Bob’s Brewery’s White Lion.

With badges, hats and wigs (sans the wigs)

The Brewer’s Pride is the home for Bob’s Brewery and a stone’s throw away from Ossett Brewery. First off I went for halves of Bridestone’s Winter Stout and Bob’s White Lion. The winter stout was thin, too pale and a poor example of a stout but White Lion was spot on, a great session ale with nice bitterness and citrus hops. After one of the best cheese and Ham sandwiches I’ve ever had (and I love a good cheese and ham sarnie!) I had halves of Rudgates Ruby Mild and Hopback’s famed Summer Lightning. Both of these were very good and in excellent condition. All in all a great pub with fantastic food and well kept ale.

We then jumped back in a taxi and moved on to our second Ossett pub of the day The Old Vic (recently renamed from being The Silver King) This place likes to position itself as a gastropub but it just didn’t cut it for me. All the ales were tepid and in poor condition and my forgettable halves from Fernandes and Ossett were well below par. The décor is a trying to be modern and classy but is a bit dated and cheap looking. But when I took my half of Silver King back the barmaid was very friendly and offered me a half Phoenix that she’d just put on. Sadly this was suffering from too much diacytl and I finally settled for a half of Ossett Pale Gold and cut my losses. A poor show, I wouldn’t go again.

Back in the taxi and over to Horbury…

Next pub was Boon’s, owned by Clarks Brewery. My only knowledge of Clarks is that they owned a few pubs in used to frequent in my younger days. Boons is a really nice traditional pub with all the trappings you’d expect, log fire, pool table, big screen Sky Sports etc… The range of ales were very good though from Bath, Westerhams, Fyne, (a few more I can’t remember) and Clarks’ own Classic Blonde. I went for halves of Westerhams General Wolfe “1759” Maple Ale (4.3%) & Bath Festivity. The Maple ale was a bit of a disappointment, an average amber ale with little if any maple syrup but the Bath Festivity was very good indeed. Roasty, festive spices and a lovely smooth dark body, great stuff! I wish I’d have gone for a Pipers Gold from the excellent Fyne Ales, my friend Jason did and he seemed enjoy it and from my taste is was on top form.

A great session ale

I wish we could have stuck around longer to enjoy a Pipers Gold but the next pub was calling so we walked up the road to the recently renovated Cricketers Arms. This pub is own by the same people who own The Sportsman in Huddersfield and The West Riding in Dewsbury. From the outside, this huge old red brick pub looked like a workingman’s club but once you stepped in it was a shabby-chic/minimal/traditional mixed interior. It was Ok but the high ceilings and slightly stark décor made it seem a bit cold. The ale was pretty good a long bar with beer from many local breweries including Anglo Dutch (Dewsbury) 5 Towns (Outwood) and Elland (there were more but I was getting a bit drunk at this point and my memory fails me on more details). First up I went for halves of Anglo Dutch “Dusk till Dawn” a very well balanced pale ale at 4.0% and 5 Towns “6 & 1” a darn tasty 6% dark ale (maybe a porter?). I shared a bottle of Geuze Boon with the group; I like to share a limbic with the uninitiated to see what they think. And then another half of “6 & 1”, a beer that could become a firm favourite.  A decent pub with a good selection.

Finally we head into Wakefield, bypassing three pubs on the list we headed to Fernandes and their Bavarian Beirkeller. We took a peek into the downstairs Bierkeller but all I saw was German lagers you would find in your average Supermarket. SOD THAT! And we popped upstairs to the old taproom that sits above what used to be a home brew shop and home of the Fernandes Brewery. I’ve always liked this pub, you ascend a narrow staircase and at the top you find a traditional wood-laden interior with a lovely atmosphere (until it gets packed) a range of at least 7 ales lined the bar, 4 or more from the house brewery and a few guest ales. After a failed conversation with what I hoped would be a knowledgeable bar man (he was a bit older) I settled for a half of Fernandes stout (with a one of their terrible, forgettable names) and a half of Fullers Bengal Lancer. I’ve never had Bengal Lancer on draught but have always enjoyed it in the bottle and the half I had was very good. By this point we’d been drinking for 6 and a half hours and we’d had at least 8 pints each.

Christmas came early.

Jason, Dave and Nick heading to a nearby curry house and I set off to the train station. On the way I decided to drop on a pub I used to spend a lot of time in when I lived near Wakefield, O’ Donoghues. OD’s was the pub where we used to meet up in when we were on a night out. It didn’t used to be that good but recently it had been taken over by the people from the Great Heck Brewery. As I entered I was greeted by a familiar interior but the selection on the bar really surprised me. Of course there were some of great beers from `Denzel at Great Heck but the one that caught my eye was Thornbridge’s Merrie. A Thornbridge beer in Wakey! I was very impress and the beer itself was extremely good. Even after a long day’s boozin’ Merrie managed to spike my interest and delight me tastebuds. Brilliantly crafted chestnut/ruby ale, balanced with cinnamon, nutmeg, winterberries and a tasty noble hop profile. I don’t know weather it was the quality of the beer or the dramatic turnaround of a once average pub or the surprise of finding a Thornbridge beer in my old hometown but this was my beer of the day.

A really fun day out with mates and some darn good drinking was done; I’m looking forward to the 2011 Wakehorett Golf Cart Ale Trail.

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