Remember – if you’re only interested in what’s on in the pubs, go straight to the end! 

Here we go with another jokey homophone that’s been used by a few people and organisations over the last few years, but I don’t mind stealing it – copyrighted or not. [Sue me!]

Febrewery means different things to different people – or anything you want it to mean, really. Visit a brewery this month; try beers from a brewery you haven’t tried before; or maybe while you’re in Otley visit all 21 pubs and have a different beer in each. [It doesn’t have to be alcoholic!] Go on – help out the town’s landlords after what is traditionally a pretty lean month. [Although, having said that, I visited 2 pubs on Thursday last week at about 5-o-clock to collect information for this newsletter, and they were both amazingly busy! So maybe it’s not all doom and gloom.]





A few people pointed out this article to me, from the BBC website, so I thought I ought to include it. It’s about Ben Coombs from Plymouth who drove from the most Northerly public bar he could find in the world, to the most Southerly. [Bit drastic – surely there’s somewhere worth having a drink in Plymouth?] From North Norway to Southern Chile, he apparently drove through 21 countries and covered about 20,000 miles – but still only mentions visiting 2 pubs! And he said one of those was a ‘dive’ [so I guess he won’t be welcomed back in Puerto Williams any time soon]. So here’s a photo of the ‘non-dive’ hotel bar in Pyramiden, on Svalbard. Not a lot of real ale on show, which is hardly surprising, when you’re a few hundred miles north of Norway, and a similar distance east of Greenland! No problem keeping the beers cold though. But just think, instead of visiting 2 pubs in 21 countries he could have visited 21 pubs in 2 days in Otley, with none of that pesky driving involved either!

‘But I would drive 20,000 miles

And I would drive 20,000 and five

Just to be the man who drove 20,000

Miles to call your bar a dive!’

Da da da da (da da da da) etc  .  .  .



This year Mothers’ Day is on Sunday March the 11th, so don’t forget your old mum will you? Plenty of the pubs in Otley serve up delicious food on Sundays, and will be going the extra mile for Mothers’ Day [you know which ones they are by now!] And they’re bound to be as popular as ever, so I suggest you get booked in as early as you can. Of course you can still get her the odd bunch of daffs or box of Dairy Milk as well – or how about something a bit different. [In one of the biggest coincidences ever, this is another article with a Plymouth connection, by the way!] This article from the Plymouth Herald online shows the range of underwear that can be purchased from Poundland to ‘make memories’ (no puns please!) for your mum! Go on – I dare you! [They also do a latex and phthalate-free ‘playful vibrating bullet’ for only a quid – battery not included – but maybe that’s going just a BIT too far!]




Not Plymouth this time [hurray!] but almost as far from Otley [80 miles closer!] Another one of the many stories about pubs being closed and left that way by major pubcos and brewers. The former landlord of The Mercantile Bar in Dundee apparently “stepped away from the business” to allow refurbishment to take place – but that was 2 years ago. Star Pubs and Bars [yes, Heineken again] said they were “prepared to inject £300,000 into The Mercantile if a licensee came forward.” But a spokeswoman said “as yet we have not found the right person with the relevant experience and vision to take it on permanently. Any refurbishment plans for the pub, including timings, will be dependent on the new licensee and their approved business plan.” There is obviously a wealth of meaning behind the phrases ‘stepped away’, ‘prepared to inject’ and ‘approved business plan’. One can only suspect it is the major players’ attempts to squeeze every penny they can from their tenants that lead to these delays, and ultimately more potential pub closures. Dundee is a thriving city, with the new V&A museum and lots of residential development. No doubt large city centre properties like the Mercantile will be worth a few bob to developers. [Or am I just being cynical?]

No, I don’t think so, ‘cos here’s exactly the same story, with exactly the same company [Heineken] having taken over The Cedar Inn in Aberdour, which now looks as though it will have to close. Contract signed with Punch Taverns; Heineken take over; contract torn up and thrown away; landlord can’t afford to carry on under new owners. What a sad and sorry state of affairs!



Look, Yorkshire Day is ours. We were first. Then that red rose lot started their own inferior celebration. Now it seems Norfolk thinks it’s a ‘one-of-a-kind’ county, and is planning its own day! This article in the Eastern Daily Press shows they’re trying hard, but it’ll never match the real thing. Nice to see Woodforde’s brewery supporting it though – we must try to get some brewery backing for our Yorkshire Day event this year. Charlie Hodson, Woodforde’s executive head chef said “It’s an amazing idea”! Err, no it isn’t Charlie – it’s just plagiarism. Oh, and by the way, your logo looks as though it’s been drawn by a 6-year-old advertising a garage sale in an episode of Alan Partridge! (And shouldn’t that say Radio Norwich?)




I know I’m shooting up and down the country in this newsletter when I should really concentrate on Otley, but if you happen to be down in the Bristol area over the bank holiday weekend of May 5th and 6th, you might want to try out the East Bristol Brewery Trail. Arbor, Dawkins, Good Chemistry, Left Handed Giant and Moor breweries are all within walking distance of each other, and will all be open over the weekend. I’m almost tempted to have a trip down there myself [but have you ever tried driving down the M6/M5 before a bank holiday weekend? Maybe I’ll just stay up here and go round the Historic Otley Ale Trail pubs just one more time instead . . .]


#SEATOO  .  .  .

The latest campaign we can all indulge ourselves in is the one to get rid of all plastics [note the plural] everywhere. Since Blue Planet II showed a lot of plasticky stuff floating around, and a few living things getting caught up in it, it seems everyone is falling over themselves to say they hate plastic [note the singular] more than you do! ITV set one family the task of going without plastic for one week – I assume they didn’t travel in any form of transport, or wear clothes or shoes, or use any kind of electronic media, etc, etc? But no, I guess they bought their vegetables in a paper bag and drank from glass bottles, so the planet’s saved! Funny how everyone hates to see a turtle at the other side of the world getting caught up in plastic, but they’re perfectly happy to fish the North Sea completely bare of cod, and kill off herrings completely.


Anyway, be that as it may, in February Punch Taverns stopped providing plastic straws to the 70 establishments they run directly, (following the example of the JD Wetherspoon chain) and encouraged their 1,200 tenants to do likewise. Good of them to catch up – The Junction Inn in Otley announced on its facebook page back on 1 December last year that their biodegradable alternative to plastic straws had just arrived. So there you are – Otley pubs lead the way again! #famouspubtown [but it hasn’t stopped me sharing a lovely colourful picture of those evil plastic straws!] And before you accuse me of being flippant about the health of the planet, can I say two things? 1 – The planet will be here long after you, me and the plastic-strangled turtle have gone; and 2 – [according to Look North last week] 90% of the plastics we see in the seas comes from just 10 rivers – and they are all in Africa and Asia. Europe and the USA combined account for only 2% of all sea-borne plastics, so you swapping your plastic straw for a paper one might do some good – but not a great deal, especially as yours would have gone into landfill anyway unless you took it down to the Wharf and threw it in on purpose! [But hey! Wagamama are stopping the use of plastic straws soon as well, and only offering the biodegradable alternative if requested. Sounds like an excuse to save money to me.]


  .  .  .  AND WETLANDS

If you want to get behind a local environmental project instead, why not vote for Rodley Nature Reserve in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards? The awards are a celebration of the British countryside and its people, from mighty landmarks and national parks to best nature reserves and finest rural pubs.  Readers of the magazine were invited to send in their suggestions for the greatest sites, and a panel of experts reviewed all the submissions and whittled the nominees down to five in each category. Rodley is up against reserves in Somerset, Dorset, Tyne & Wear and South Uist. (What’s more, the only other Yorkshire candidate in any of the 7 geographically-based categories is the Foxhouse Pub at Longshaw, and that’s only about 5 feet this side of the Derbyshire border, so vote for Leeds!)

Rodley Nature Reserve is designed to bring wetland wildlife back into the Leeds area. Created on a floodplain in Kirkstall Valley, a recognised ‘flyway’ for wildfowl and waders on migration, the wetland habitats constructed here complement the nearby River Aire and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. We’re fortunate to have our own ever-improving [thanks to its volunteers] nature area at Gallows Hill in Otley, and if you appreciate that, you would certainly enjoy a trip to Rodley. All details are on the website at http://www.rodleynaturereserve.org/

You can vote until Monday March 5th – online on the BBC Countryfile Magazine via this link or by post, sending the voting form in the February issue of the BBC Countryfile Magazine, 2nd Floor, Tower House, Fairfax Street, Bristol BS1 3BN.   Winners will be announced mid-March in an online ceremony and will appear in the May issue of the magazine on sale 13th April.



If you wondered why I’m not writing at length about this, it’s because I’m already bored to the back teeth with it. I went to the CAMRA beer festival at Fleetwood recently, and to be honest, I’m getting a bit bored with them as well. There was a time when a good beer festival was your only chance of tasting a few different beers from around the country, and to a certain extent it still is. But they’re a bit dull really, aren’t they? I had about 10 different beers, but in the end I could hardly tell one from the other. I was trying to stick to blond, hoppy ales, so I could see which ones were the best. In the end although their descriptions all sounded very different they all finished up [without the good old Yorkshire sparkler] being a bit flat and insipid. A bit like the arguments for and against ‘change’ in CAMRA.

If you really, really want to read a good description of what’s going on, check out this article by Ladysinksthebooze about the manifesto from the latest candidate to throw their hat in the ring.



Did you see the article in Thursday’s Yorkshire Post about the Otley celebrations for this year’s 300th anniversary of Thomas Chippendale’s birth in the town? Pubs and beer will [as ever] play a big part in the celebrations. Here’s just a bit from the article, with a quote from Lawrence Ross who chairs the town’s ‘celebrating Chippendale’ committee.

‘There will also be a walking tour of Chippendale-related sites, including that of his birth, now occupied by Browns Art Gallery. “We’re trying to mix highbrow and lowbrow events to create a celebration that everyone can enjoy,” Mr Ross said. The latter category will include a Christening cake baked by Patisserie Viennoise on Westgate, and a Chippend’Ale beer by Dr Paul Briscoe, who runs a micro-brewery on Ash Grove’.

Yours truly will also [as ever] be playing a part. I’ll be leading the two walking tours on Tuesday June 26th at 11am and Wednesday June 27th at 7pm. And guess what? They will both end in pubs! On Tuesday lunchtime, we’ll stop at Stew & Oyster [The Old Grammar School, and probable site of Chippendale’s education]. On Wednesday evening we’ll end up at The Black Bull – the one pub we are absolutely certain was in Otley in its current form when Chippy was a lad. He might have even sneaked in there with his dad for a ‘small beer’ or two now and then! I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible on those walks.

(Just a note here about beer consumption in the first part of the 18th century. M. Cesar de Sausser, a foreign traveller visiting London in 1726, asserted “26 November 1726 — would you believe it, although water is to be had in abundance in London and of fairly good quality, absolutely none is drunk? The lower classes, even the paupers, do not know what it is to quench their thirst with water. In this country nothing but beer is drunk and it is made in several qualities. Small beer is what everyone drinks when thirsty: it is used even in the best houses and costs only a penny a pot. Another kind of beer is called Porter…because the greater quantity is consumed by the working classes. It is a thick strong beverage, and the effect it produces if drunk in excess, is the same as wine… There are again other beers called ales, some of these being as transparent as fine old wine… It is said that more grain is consumed in England for making beer than making bread.” [From Corran H, S. The History of Brewing (London, David & Charles, 1974) page 11, referenced in A Most Wholesome Liquor: A Study of Beer and Brewing in 18th-Century England and Her Colonies, by Frank Clark.]




No, I’m not being personal! There are still over 2 billion pounds worth of the old paper ten pound notes out there somewhere, and they cease to be legal tender in just over a week’s time, on the 1st of March. After that, your local bank isn’t legally obliged to change them for you. The good news is that The Bank of England will continue to change them – indefinitely! The bad news is that you have to call in to the Bank in the City of London in person – or send them down there by post [which doesn’t sound the greatest idea in the world!] So get a move on, search through your drawers, and if possible remind your elderly friends and family who might have a bundle stashed away somewhere ‘for a rainy day’. [As if we haven’t had enough of them already.]



Yes, I do know I finished the January newsletter like this as well, but did you see the Wharfedale Observer article headed “Hopes High That Bird Will Fly In” last Thursday? (If not, go to The Otley Tavern in ‘Pub Stuff’ below.) You might think it’s a bit over the top to call Dickie Bird OBE a National Treasure, but he’s certainly a Yorkshire one, and it’s great to see that landlord Peter Jackson at The Otley Tavern has organised a ‘build-up to Yorkshire Day’ darts tournament in his honour.


The first 3 rounds will take place in July, and the quarters, semis and final will all take place in the pub on Saturday July 28th. There’ll be a buffet and entertainment all for a fiver – but more about that nearer the time. All profits from the event, and a raffle running alongside the competition, will go to the Dickie Bird Foundation, which helps disadvantaged young people across the UK to participate in the sport of their choice. Looking forward to it – and to Dickie himself flying in to Otley – already!




We usually only include here anything special going on over the next month. If a pub’s not mentioned, don’t worry – it [probably!] hasn’t closed, and the regular weekly quiz, open mic or whatever will still be on. We’re updating our website to include all those regular events so you can check them out at any time. Collection of info from pubs and updating of website is proving a bit time-consuming, but should be complete by the end of March.



  • Don’t forget Mothers’ Day – March 11


  • Open mic night 1st Sunday every month
  • Keep an eye on the Facebook page for Mothers’ Day and more.


  • Thursday March 15 – Gin Night with 8 gins, Pizza Supper and Prize draw. Watch out for tickets and price
  • Mums’ day lunch. Check with pub for details.
  • Sunday Steak Nights: 2 steaks & Bottle of wine for£24.95
  • Folk Club Weds.


  • Guinness on draft now
  • Sky Sports on 2 screens. All major sports. If your game isn’t on just ask!
  • Regular bottle deals.


  • USA Beer Festival continues through to the end of February.
  • March is cake and beer month! Cake every day, different every week.
  • Sunday March 11, the first NBS ‘Sunday Supplement’. Acoustic open mic upstairs from 2 till 5 in the afternoon.


A familiar face returns! If you haven’t seen Mel for a while, call in and say hello again.


  • Now doing breakfasts from 09:00
  • Baby social every Tuesday
  • Thursday quiz – win a bar tab
  • Friday is pie day, from 20:00 to close
  • Friday 23rd Feb Meet The Brewer – Kirkstall Brewery


  • Check out their facebook page [link below] for the latest news on live music.


  • Saturday 3 March 8 PM Joe Kemp
  • Sunday 18 March 4:30 PM Neil and Sarah
  • First Wednesday of every month Open Mic Night


  • Every Tuesday from 9:00 PM on, there is a folk play along upstairs.
  • Every single day there is a great choice of beers on the bar!


  • All 6 Nations and Champions League matches on TV
  • Sunday roast every week from midday to 4pm, £9:95
  • Look out for special Mothers’ Day menu on its way
  • Comedy night last Friday of every month, only £5!


  • Ace of Spades Jackpot game every Wednesday at 7:00 PM
  • Quiz Night every Tuesday at 8:00 PM


  • Lunch for seniors on Thursday is only £4:95 for main course and drink!!
  • Fantastic Friday deal – spend £20 on food, get a bottle of wine free!


  • Open Mic Night every Friday from 8:30 PM
  • 22 February Steam Town; Wilson McGladdery
  • 1 March Doctor Brown; David Speight
  • 3 March Storm Trees 
  • 8 March Hayley G; David McKendrick
  • 15 March Bad Dad Band
  • 17 March Mid Life Crisis
  • 22 March Courtney Visser; Issimo
  • 24 March Joe and Anne Gallagher 


  • Best to book in advance to secure a table on Mothers’ Day
  • Also need to book well in advance for the marquee on Royal Ascot Ladies Day, June 21st! Phone pub for details.


  • Friday 23 Feb – Joseph O’Brien. A welcome return for a Tavern favourite.
  • Saturday 24 Feb – Michelle Knight. Knockout female artiste
  • ‘Build-up to Yorkshire Day’ darts tournament, in conjunction with the Dickie Bird Foundation and Yorkshire cricket commentator Dave Callaghan! Register now to be one of the 128 players taking part in July. Call in at the pub or call Peter Jackson on 01943 463711.










































Stew and Oyster

– – / / – – / / – – / / – –

Finally, my usual apologies for errors and/or omissions. If you are receiving these newsletters and any other correspondence from Otley Pub Club by email, but you no longer want them, just email the return address and let me know. On the other hand, if you stop receiving our newsletters in future but you still want to be a member, something’s gone wrong! Remember this email address for the future – secretary@otleypubclub.co.uk , or get in touch via the website and I’ll put you back on the mailing list right away. Thanks!


Bob Brook

OPC Secretary



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