THIS WEEK’S MEETING, Wednesday 07 March

Another Wednesday night in a Northern town. This month’s committee meeting will be in The Cross Pipes on Westgate at its usual time of 19:15, followed by a swift social drink there until about 20:45, when we’ll move just a bit further up Westgate to Th e Fleece. Then at 21:30 we’ll move all the way back into the town centre, to Whitakers, until we feel like leaving!



Well, they were right about the first part of March, weren’t they – it certainly came roaring “In like a lion”! That weather was fun, wasn’t it? That’s using ‘fun’ in a way that excludes anyone having to look after animals in the fields or on the moors, especially sheep about to give birth; or anyone in a health or social care profession who had to get to work to make sure people in their care didn’t starve or freeze or suffer; or even anyone who either had to, or chose to ignore the warnings not to travel, and found themselves up to their axles in snow drifts; or . . . well, you get the picture. Anyone except most children, who had an unexpected break from school coupled with fun in the snow – and me, and those like me, who just love this type of weather!

Thing is, I like any kind of weather really – from blistering red hot days of summer drought to bucketing-down days full of rain. They all go to show just how little control we humans actually have over what goes on, on the planet, despite all our pompous posturing and self-aggrandisement. And it gives me something to write about, every single beautiful weather-filled month!



As well as loving weather, I love dogs – and obviously lots of people in Otley love them too. Salami & Co is an extremely well-frequented canine café on Market Place – it even has a separate menu for your hound – and the vast majority of pubs in town also have no problem filling their floors with well-behaved [and well-controlled] dogs. But I just want to give a quick plug for Dogs Trust Leeds, and urge anyone who’s thinking of choosing a canine companion to at least consider providing a home for a rescue dog.

The real Otley connection here is with the Dogs Trust Leeds rehoming centre manager Amanda Sands. Amanda lives in Otley and has been working for Dogs Trust now for 30 years. I hope she won’t mind my sharing this article about her from their website. I know there are all sorts of reasons for choosing a pedigree dog from a breeder – from temperament to showing, or from appearance to allergies – but with so many homeless dogs around surely most prospective ‘owners’ can find a friend to their liking. My two dogs came from another rescue centre – TIA Greyhound Rescue, now based near Doncaster – and since the second one died last year I’m itching to get more!




Did you know that throughout the month of March every year, Irish History Month takes place in Leeds? An initiative brought about by the Irish Arts Foundation, first celebrated in Leeds in 2007, it is now in its twelfth year. Irish History Month, exists to promote the many positive contributions that Irish people have made in Leeds and also to introduce new audiences to the vibrancy of Irish arts, heritage, culture and history.

Two particular highlights this year take place in Otley, at The Courthouse – a concert from John Doyle, John McCusker and Michael McGoldrick on Sunday 4th March is sadly already past, but tickets are still available for Luke Daniels and Nancy Kerr on Saturday the 10th. Luke’s set includes an electrophon machine, which uses Victorian clockwork technology and steel discs to create a distinctive musical sound which is well worth seeing! Further afield, Clannad’s Moya Brennan performs at the City Varieties in Leeds on Monday 12th March.

Of course, at The Manor House pub in Otley, it’s always Irish month! And this year St Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday, so even more of you can get down there and enjoy the craic! Mind you, you really will have to get there early this year if you want to be sure of getting in. England take on Ireland at Twickenham that day in the final round of the RU 6 Nations’ Championship. It might be the match that decides not only the Championship, but also whether Ireland win the grand slam. Will that be an event not to be missed, or what?



We’re all looking forward to the Chippendale events in June now, (details on the visitotley website) and this letter from one of Otley’s beer connoisseurs just proves it. [Jeff’s letter will probably also be in the next issue of CAMRA Bradford’s magazine ‘Tyke Taverner’, but remember – you saw it here first!]
“In 2018, the town of Otley will be celebrating the 300th anniversary of the birth of Otley’s famous son Thomas Chippendale with various ‘Chippendale 300’ events during the year, and local brewer Paul Briscoe has been commissioned to produce a special beer for the occasion.
Briscoe’s Chippend’Ale at 4.3% ABV is described as copper coloured with a pronounced hop finish. The beer is brewed with pale and crystal malts, using Brambling Cross and Goldings hops, plus a large quantity of late Styrians to give it a pronounced hop finish. The intention is for it to be more of an ‘old-fashioned’ bitter beer with a deep colour more reminiscent of an aged hardwood! (but does it taste woody?).
The first batch of beers were on sale mid-February in The Old Cock, with distribution likely to be to local pubs in the Otley and Ilkley districts, although one cask is being sent to this year’s Bradford Beer Festival. (Now past, sadly – Ed.) Daleside Brewery is also producing a bottled version for sale at various ‘Chippendale 300’ events as well as supermarkets and shops. We are unsure if they will be doing a cask version at present, but they are likely to do so closer to the main events in June 2018.
Jeff Utley MBE

Oh, and by the way, OF COURSE I DID manage to get a pint of Paul’s brew at The Old Cock, and it was delicious – despite Paul telling me he wasn’t satisfied with the balance and he thought the malt was too strong. I can’t wait for the next batch to see how he could possibly improve it!



Following a 12-year investigation in Greece by the Hellenic Competition Commission (HCC) into the actions of Athenian Brewery (AB) – a subsidiary of Heineken – the company was eventually found to be in breach of Greek and EU competition law. This finding led to a £25 million fine being imposed on the company.

In a statement released on 1 December, the HCC said Heineken’s Athenian Brewery had “abused its dominant position” infringing on the Competition Act and 102 EU Treaty by implementing a “single and targeted policy that sought to exclude its competitors from the on-trade consumption market (e.g. HORECA chains and other retail outlets) and to limit their growth possibilities, over a period of fifteen years”. It said the company had achieved this by using exclusivity agreements to force publicans to stock Heineken brands, and by offering wholesalers “significant economic motives” to promote exclusivity and refrain from introducing competing products.

Now the Macedonian Thrace Brewery [MTB], brewers of Vergina (how’s that pronounced?) Beer, has lodged a separate lawsuit, in light of the HCC ruling, seeking damages in excess of €100 million before the Court of Amsterdam. “Greek authorities revealed the full extent and intensity of the illegal anti-competitive abuse of Heineken through its Greek operating company,” said Demetri Politopoulos, MTB’s founder and CEO. “For decades Heineken has been acting like a giant bully who’ll stop at nothing to get its way. It has been illegally distorting the Greek beer market while protecting the supremacy it wields, by coercing and intimidating distributors, retailers and wholesalers, and ultimately ripping off consumers. 


I’m sure this will come as even more depressing news to landlords whose pubs have recently been handed over to Heineken by Punch, like a pair of school bullies playing Top Trumps with people’s livelihoods. Of course the pub industry might be very different here from that in Greece, but maybe, just maybe, if some of our own new brewers could prove a similar infringement of competition, this might turn out to be much better news! [Of course, we are leaving the EU very soon, so we can’t rely on that treaty any longer – and we know what big businesses are like, once the fair trade regulations – sorry “red tape” – are removed, don’t we?

(Thanks to drinksbusiness.com for this article)



Here’s an interesting set of questions from beer writer Pete Brown, in the aftermath of Dark Star Brewing being taken

over by Fullers. They are basically existential questions about the nature of ‘craft’ beer, some of which I’m sure are asked with Pete’s tongue planted firmly in his cheek but which do point out the uncertainties and tribalism in the current British hipster-versus-CAMRA beer scene. The problem is that no-one has yet come up with a clear cut definition of what they mean by ‘craft’. Does it describe the beer; is it the brewer who is unique; is it the size of the brewery or the nature of the brewing process; does it depend on economic and commercial success nationally and internationally? Have a look at Pete’s blog and see for yourself [if you can be bothered . . .]



TheDrinksBusiness.com reported last month that Scottish brewer BrewDog is planning to open a brewery in China. Of course it is. Of course it is. Hope you feel your hard-earned cash that you crowd-funded them with was worth it!



I finally understand why Leeds City Council were so keen to put up those ‘Welcome to Leeds’ signs at the entrance to Otley a few years ago. It was so they could include us in all their statistics about quality of life in the city! According to this article in the Wharfedale Observer, Leeds beat 10 other comparable cities, and were particularly strong in the categories of happiness, life satisfaction, unemployment levels, and a healthy life expectancy. I’m sure it’s just because Otley bumps up their averages!!



Well, according to this article in Metro.com, there’s a Beerjet machine that can pull 6 pints in under 10 seconds. But of course it IS lager, and no-one in the film looks particularly delighted while drinking it – but it keeps the bar staff happy, and you do get served quickly!



Finally today, the Shoulder of Mutton in Lockwood, Huddersfield is for sale freehold for £250,000. According to ‘local legend’ [reported in the Huddersfield Examiner] Grant ‘used to sup there’ when he was stationed in England during the war. However, in my [admittedly very brief research] I couldn’t find any evidence that he had even served during the war [although he did donate the earnings from 2 films to the British war effort] let alone been stationed in Yorkshire! What’s more, the pub has a sign over the front door that says “Est 1975”, but that might just be in its latest Free House incarnation. Still, it’s in a lovely cobbled street and has a three bedroomed house attached, so if you’re interested in the freehold pub business, now’s your chance!

[The only Cary Grant quote about alcohol I could find was “A shot of brandy can save your life, but a bottle of brandy can kill you.” Shame there was no ‘local legend’ about W C Fields!]


Bob Brook

OPC Secretary

04 March 2017

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