Lunchtime Halves

A roundtable discussion

A fantastic boozer!

A fantastic boozer!

Reviewed by RD (HopZine Co-Editor), SS (Sven Shaw – Guest contributor), DJ (Dan Jackson – Guest Contributor)

Its Saturday lunchtime and the three of us made the trip down to The Fighting Cock, probably Bradford’s best boozer. Goggle maps say it takes 18 minutes to walk down but we can make it in 13!
Tucked away in the middle of an industrial estate, you have to walk some pretty hairy streets and bypass some seriously scary dogs in scrap yards. But it’s worth it. A multiple CAMRA award winner, The Fighting Cock is a very old fashioned, bare-bones pub. Wooden floors, wooden furniture and a well stocked bar. They always have a good selection on draft, Red Lion, Taylor’s Landlord and a few more. There are also at least 4 guess ales, usually from The North but sometime further a field.

The concept was three guys, three halves and hopefully three differing opinions. As it happened the three democratically selected ales ranged from light to dark. A great set

Montecassino from Bradford’s own Salamander Brewery. 5.2% ABV

Montecassino from Bradford’s own Salamander Brewery. 5.2% ABV

First up was the lightest of the bunch, the interestingly name Montecassino from Bradford’s own Salamander Brewery. 5.2% ABV

Colour: Pale, almost too pale – like the ginger one from Girls Aloud.(SS)

Pale, very slight cloud. (DJ)

Pale ale, with a hint of yellow running thought it. A creamy white head sits on top. The magic was performed by using a sprinkler! Take heed you southerners…don’t fear the sprinkler! (RD)

Nose: None discernable. (SS)

No Smell. (DJ)

Earthy malts and citric hops, fresh. (RD)

Taste: Rich and bitter immediate taste. Fruity aftertaste, not a particularly sweet fruit but more akin to a raisin. (SS)

The initial taste comes softly to the sides of the tongue, like the aftertaste of wholesome seeded bread. This is immediately followed by a bitter, slightly brackish and earthy bite to the top of the mouth. Swallow, wait approx 30 seconds and now we’re into the bush. Continuing with the subtle earthy flavours we now have hints of a bramble bush, nettles, blackberries, however without the sharp citrus taste. Only the scent is left reminiscing in your mouth. (DJ)

First off I got some bitterness on the side of my tongue. Grapefruit offered a tart fruitiness with a little clove spice at the end. (RD)

Overall Experience: One should never judge a book by its cover, nor a beer by its colour. The pallid exterior of this beer belies its rich content. (SS)

A surprising beer! This has the wholesomeness of a dark beer suitable for cold nights next to a pub fire. Rare for a pale ale. (DJ)

Very enjoyable! I’ve been let down by Salamander before. I often find their beers bland and insipid. But this was much better than I expected. (RD)


Brass Monkey Bitter, Sowerby Bridge 3.8% ABV

Next up was Brass Monkey Bitter, Sowerby Bridge 3.8% ABV

Colour: Varnished oak.(SS)

Amber beer with a slightly red head. I a-liken this to a women with similar complexion… you know the sort! (DJ)

A chestnut coloured bitter, once again with a creamy off white head.(RD)

Nose: Slightly sweet. (SS)

No Smell. (DJ)

I didn’t get much at first, but as I drank I got notes of cranberries, red current and malt. Not a strong scent and very fleeting. (RD)

Taste: Initially bready, followed by porridgy and then finally a drizzle of golden syrup in the porridge. (SS)

The first sensation is not of taste, however texture. A beer smooth on the tongue, however approaching flat. Taste then follows with oaty overtones. Along with the smooth texture a warm feeling is created reminiscent of porridge. (DJ)

Soft red fruits not sharp or tart. Caramel malt then bittering hops in the aftertaste. (RD)

Overall Experience: This would make a good session pint, which is perhaps why it has been given such a standard name. (SS)

Not bad, a bit more interesting than the average bitter. Nice and smooth. (RD)

Leeds Brewery's Winter Spark weighing in at 4.6% ABV

Leeds Brewery's Winter Spark weighing in at 4.6% ABV

And Finally the third and by now Sven was doubting the decision of three instead of the two halves. But this seasonal offering from the fantastic Leeds Brewery was worth it. Winter Spark weighing in at 4.6% ABV

Colour: Dark but not impenetrable. Like dawn breaking through a forest.(SS)

Dark dark amber. So much so that it may have crossed past the amber spectrum into a brown. (DJ)

A deep luxurious red mahogany sporting a reddish tan head. (RD)

Nose: Toffee pan, post licking. (SS)

First the smell. It was an immediate revelation, something that had obviously been buried deep in my unconscious waiting for this very beer. Imagine hiking in Europe, maybe western France in winter, maybe Cumbria, again winter. Miles before you approach the source of the smell you pick it up on the breeze. Yes, it’s a small section of black forest that has caught fire three days earlier. The winter rain has since extinguished the flames and it has been smoldering in the damp for some time. This is the smell of Winter Spark. (DJ)

A good handful of black cherries and a splash of coffee. (RD)

Taste: No initial taste, but then black treacle hits the palate. Like licking the tin used to make some slightly burnt bonfire toffee. Little aftertaste. (SS)

Then the taste. Immediate joy as my tongue picked up the same memory (I have never actually experience) my nose was so sure of! Black forest three days after a fire! However it’s now much more complex, much fuller, with many contributing factors… it’s the fruits of the forest. All the different fruits of a forest, now singularly unidentifiable as they have all melted into one hot sticky syrup, a treacle as my friend pointed out. Mixed in with these forest fruits is the warm smoke of the burnt wood. Warm and smooth. (DJ)

Very fruity, lots of roasted malt but I wouldn’t go as far as to say it had those typical coffee notes. Well balance with a dry malt aftertaste. (RD)

Overall Experience: A solid pint, perhaps not for the faint hearted. (SS)

I really enjoyed it. A great winter warmer with a wonderful mix of fruit, spice and comforting roasted malt. (RD)

Bob's Cupboard cider

Bob's Cupboard cider

As I scampered around the bar snapping photos of pump clips and the interior of the pub. An old fella at the bar beckoned me over and said, “Take a photo of my cider”. This I soon learnt was Bob, a friendly chap housed on a stool at the end of the bar. He offered me a taste of his still cider. I’m not much of a cider drinker but Bob’s story intrigued me. The cider he was drinking, he called “Cupboard Cider”. This wasn’t on public display and freely available to punters but is living behind a closed door behind the bar! I had a taste and it was very good. Still but with plenty of bite, not over tart or boozy. Thanks Bob.

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