Otley’s been in the local news again, with BBC Look North’s Harry Gration and Amy Garcia pausing in the Market Square on their tandem ride for Children In Need, on Friday November 18th. BBC Radio’s Richard Stead spent the morning ensconced in the café and florist ‘Casa Vitae’ over the road from the Market, so that he was there to interview them when they arrived. A video of them arriving in Otley was posted on the BBC Radio Leeds Facebook Page, and prompted this response from a disgruntled reader, presumably from t’other side of Leeds!

“Why do they always visit the same places i.e. Otley, Ilkley etc when they do these things? Why not the other side of Leeds ever?”

Well, I don’t mind – but wasn’t the weather that Friday hideous? Not only did Harry and Amy get snowed on and frozen on their way up the Cow and Calf, but I got absolutely drenched walking to and from Otley Beer Festival! It took ages to balance up the amount of liquid on the inside with that on the outside, but it was fun trying. The Festival was a hu%e2%80%aaiced-teage success again – despite the worst the weather could throw at it. I was there on Friday afternoon, Saturday afternoon, and Saturday evening – and the crowds just got bigger each time. And this year – coincidentally the year of CAMRA’s soul-searching ‘revitalisation’ meetings – a beer at the craft keg bar was voted beer of the Festival! It was ‘Iced Tea Dead People’ from Abbeydale Brewery in Sheffield. [Maybe next year, there should be a prize for the best pun in a beer name as well.] This year’s proceeds will be split between the All Saints Parish Church, Prostate Cancer UK, Otley Defibrillator Campaign and Down’s Heart Group.



It’s always hard to remember every event that’s on in every pub [which is the main reason I always the caveat at the end of the monthly newsletter], especially as there is so much choice in Otley at the moment! One of the regular events I did omit from my last Newsletter was the new acoustic night at The Manor House every Thursday. They even have their own Facebook Group already, which you can join to keep updated about what’s coming on!



I know a lot of people say they only want to park for a few minutes to pop into one place and pick something up – so it seems like a pain having to fish around for change and pay for just a small amount of time. Well once again this year in Otley, you won’t have to – at least on any Saturday in December, and for next Monday’s Christmas lights switch-on (from 3pm). See the photo below or check the Visit Otley website for details. The good thing about that of course, is that once you have parked and picked up your one thing, there’s no need to rush back to your car, so hopefully more people will be encouraged to wander round town and buy Christmas gifts from other shops. [And afterwards, of course, they can call in to a pub for a quick stout or mulled wine – or coffee and a packet of crisps.]



An article on the Telegraph website says that a pint of beer a day could help reduce the risk of having a stroke or developing cardiovascular disease, new research has found. A study of 80,000 adults found the natural decline in high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol, in the body was slowed by a moderate intake of alcohol. The results showed that one or two daily servings of alcohol for a man, or up to one for a woman, was associated with a slower HDL decline than either not drinking at all, or drinking too heavily. While the trend applied to both beer and spirits, the effect was most visible for drinkers of beer, the Pennsylvania State University study found.

The research, which was conducted among Chinese adults, did not yield enough data on the effect of HDL decline from wine consumption to be able to draw conclusions. Current UK Government advice recommends that both men and women should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol each week, the equivalent of six pints of average strength beer.  The previous guidelines, ditched in January this year, advised a limit of 21 units for men and 14 for women. Presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association, the new research showed that moderate drinking arrested the decline in HDL as people get older more than twice as much as heavy drinking, which is defined as more than one daily ‘serving’ of alcohol for women and more than two for men. (Now the ‘bad’ news -) The scientists said more studies were needed to determine whether the alcohol-HDL association applied to non-Chinese populations.



Almost everyone who drinks beer will be aware that it usually has just three ingredients [as well as water, of course] – barley, hops and yeast. Most will know that the colour and the flavour of the final product can be affected by how long the barley is roasted before it is used in the brewing process, and some will recognise that the taste of the beer can be determined by which variety of hops are used. Then there are many other ways that the final sweetness, acidity, flavour, appearance and more can be affected by the brewer’s skill – the varying proportions of ingredients for instance, whether finings are added, or additional flavourings like orange, coffee or chocolate.


But how many of us recognise the part played by the yeast that actually produces the alcohol, as well as the carbon dioxide gas in your drink? In the Brewer’s Journal this month there’s an article by Timothy Woolley, who reviews some of the latest research into the use of new and novel yeast strains and their possible use in the craft brewing industry. It’s fairly technical, but an interesting read all the same. Some traditional breweries like Sam Smiths still use the same strain of yeast that they have used since they first began, so they, and their customers, pretty much know what to expect. 21st century ‘craft’ brewers, on the other hand, like to experiment with new and mixed strains of yeast.


One yeast only produces low levels of alcohol, for instance. Another can produce a range of flavours/aromas such as sweet floral, honey, fruity, rose petals and brandy. A third predominately used in Lambic ales, but now being utilised in an ever growing number of beer styles, is known for producing a set of unique flavour compounds which together result in the typical commercial character of complex fruity and floral notes. But perhaps the most exciting [and/or the most frightening and contentious] prospect is that of genetically-modified yeast! Although the article mentions the possibility of gene-splicing non-related species like jellyfish into brewer’s yeast, there are definite benefits. One suggestion is to add the gene from a specific hop variety that produces the aroma, thus avoiding the expense of using the hops themselves. Another – and my own favourite – is that you could add in genes that produce certain anti-oxidants so the finished beer could be one of your 5 a day!!


How about having the lycopene gene added (found in tomatoes), which should produce a red beer with the added benefit of containing a well-known anti-cancer compound? Or having genes added that would produce all the essential amino acids in the perfect ratio required by humans? Or finally, adding genes with bioluminescent properties (that jellyfish again) which, as Tim says, would not only make it easier to find your pint in a darkened room – but would also be really cool!



I did mention this in the last newsletter – The Otley Tap House is a “Men United Arms” pub, supporting prostate cancer awareness. If you’ve ever wondered where all the football commentators and managers get those little silver badges that look like a man – they’re on the bar at The Tap House. For a donation to the charity, you can get one for yourself, as well as doing your bit to cut down the number of potential deaths from the disease. [I’ve got mine!!]



Yes – according to an article on the website, by The Motley Fool. It’s concerned with company profits and share prices rather than individual pubs. It says that Mitchells and Butlers has declined by 26% in the last year, bringing its 10-year fall to 60% according to its most recently released full year results. Its pre-tax profit fell from £126m in the previous year to £94m last year, which is a decline of over 25%. J. D. Wetherspoon are apparently also suffering, from cost pressures such as wage inflation, as the National Living Wage increases, and the recent business rates review raising costs for pubs even further. A final pressure comes from the ‘Brexit’ vote for the UK to leave the EU, which has caused the pound to weaken and could cause the prices of imported beers, spirits and wines to increase. That would be the ultimate irony for Wetherspoon’s Chairman Tim Martin, who is a committed Eurosceptic and who called the vote to leave the EU a “new Magna Carta”!



Last month I listed just some of the possible new OPC projects we could undertake to create more interest in the pubs and the town, and maybe even bring more money into OPC itself. Since then, we’ve decided we’ll certainly try to deliver a couple of them over the next year.

  • Otley Pub Passport – that old chestnut. As I said last time – we are definitely hoping to get that started this year.
  • ‘Road to Marston Moor’ walk as a follow up to this year’s Civil War battle re-creation will certainly take place. From Menston to the Otley Black Bull, with the route yet to be decided. Probably as one of the walks in the Otley Walking Festival, and as near to the eve of the Battle of Marston Moor as possible [to coincide with ‘drinking the Black Bull dry’].
  • OPC Carnival float, maybe with a brewery cart and dray horses. (Already been ‘floated’ [sorry!] with a representative of one brewery, and discussions will continue.)
  • Produce more OPC T-shirts for sale? [Certainly need some more for additional committee members anyway, so if anyone img_20161125_171038495wants a good quality black T-shirt with our logo in white on the front for about a tenner, let me know – I’m sure we could even get them to you before Christmas if you hurry!!]
  • Otley Lost and Found – OLAF – leave found items at pubs, pick them up from a central location [perhaps for a small fee]. (This is a personal pet project of the Secretary – so down to him/that’s me really!) {BTW – I know this picture is ‘only’ of a cotton bag, but it might be someone’s memory of Barcelona that they want to keep! Found in All Saints Churchyard – let me know if it’s yours, or anyone’s that you know. Ta!]
  • OPC Pub Quiz Team – different pub for a quiz each week? Almost there with this one! We were very close to winning the Otley Tap House quiz, and have already been invited by the Woolpack in Esholt to take part in their quiz!


So we’ve whittled down the list a bit, but it still looks fairly exciting for the next year or so. If you’re a pub quiz expert and you’d like to represent us at various quizzes, do let me know. Likewise, if you want to help with any of our other prospective projects, just get in touch. Thanks to the reader who sent in a fundraising suggestion about asking people to grow plants from seed and then selling the seedlings, by the way! Do let us know if you come up with any others, no matter what they are.



Following the successful launch of ‘Half Moon: Poems about Pubs’ in The Horse and Farrier recently, we thought you might now be interested in a competition to name the best novel to read in a pub. “Pubs and literature are glorious bedfellows; reading a novel in a warm, cosy pub is one of life’s great joys.” So says Kit Caless in a recent Guardian article. If you don’t like Wetherspoons pubs for any reason, ignore the fact that it’s called the Spoon’s Carpet Novel Award, and just follow the guidance on that second link to stand a chance of winning £100 cash, a trophy, 5 books and £100 in pub vouchers. You’ve got just a week left – the closing date is December 7th. Echoing almost exactly the thoughts of our Chairman Andy FitzGerald in his introduction to Half Moon, Kit says “Reading in pubs is different to reading at home or on public transport. The pub is warm. There is beer. Pubs are spaces that allow your mind to drift, particularly on a mellow afternoon where a gentle thrum of conversation can serve as a soothing mantra to settle you in to your book.”



CHRISTMAS LIGHTS SWITCH-ON – Tonight from 17:30 onwardsimg_20161128_100930051

VICTORIAN FAYRE – Sunday 4 December midday to 6pm

CHRISTMAS TREE FESTIVAL – Weds 7 December to Saturday 10 December, various times

FARMERS’ MARKET – Sunday 18 December 09:30 to 12:30

Of course, all the pubs in Otley are open every minute of every day [err – OK, not QUITE, but a lot of the time!] and will welcome you all before, during and after all the events throughout December. Please call in and have a rest and a warm by the fire – and maybe even read a novel while you’re there! There’ll be more details of events in pubs over the Christmas and New Year holiday period in our next newsletter, so watch out for that.



OK, that’s what some people say [but then, some people say there’s no such thing as society]. But there’s no reason why it has to stop there! There have been so many good news stories in the local media and social media recently – people giving away toys, because they remember what it was like when they couldn’t afford them; someone buying a gift for a stranger’s child because he’d lost his own family; and charity events being advertised in Otley to help those for whom Christmas can be a sad and frustrating time. Here are just two –

  1. First, get out that festive knit, it’s nearly time for 2016’s Xmas Sunday Service! Top up your Xmas spirit as a whole host of acts play 2 songs and a festive cover to warm your hearts. This year, on Sunday 18th December at Korks Wine Bar, they’ll be kicking off at 5pm with the likes of:

    The Otley Ukelele Orchestra
    Dave Pilla
    Richie Bower

    Carolling with Dan Norton
    Ellie Coast
    Holly Taymar & The Bronze
    And with our very favourite headliners: Louis Louis Louis!

    Entry: £5 (to go to charity) and a tinned/dry food contribution for the local food bank.

  2. And finally, for those who think publicans always just want to take and never give anything back – Tony from the Junction Inn is collecting money to provide Christmas Hampers to those that may not be able to enjoy the kind of Christmas that most of us take for granted.
    Please drop donations into The Junction, and if paying by cheque, make payable to Otley Chamber of Trade [requested by Tony, so that there is a clear audit trail]. He has already collected £100 in the pub and has pledges for £400 more.

– – / / – –


Back to the traditional 3-pubs this month, first Thursday in December [01/12] kicking off at The Black Horse at 8 pm. [Unless of course you’d like to sit in on the committee meeting from 7:15 – which everyone is welcome to do. You might even find you want to join us, and work for the good of the pubs of Otley, while having fun – and beer.] At 8:45 we’ll sprint up Westgate as far as The Fleece, and after three quarters of an hour in there, it’s back towards town, pausing in The Cross Pipes from some time after 9:30. Hope to see you at one or the other [or the other].


Bob Brook

OPC Secretary

28 November 2016

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