OTLEY PUB CLUB: SEPTEMBER MEETING
September already! The Yorkshire flags have come down, and our Olympians have come home. The nights are drawing in, and the new school term is about to begin. Free blackberries are ripening on the brambles up The Chevin, and the wild apple trees off West Chevin Road seem to have benefitted from early rain and late sunshine this year – so go collecting both to make pies! Reasons to be cheerful! Or as American poet Helen Hunt Jackson put it –
“By all these lovely tokens, September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather and autumn’s best of cheer.”
We did manage to have some very warm and sunny days during August itself though, so the kids won’t feel it’s been a totally wet and wasted holiday as they go ‘back to school’. And before the dark and chilly Autumn evenings really set in, we’re having a trip up to The Roebuck for our meeting this week – see details below.
Bit of a longer ‘Invitation’ than usual, because the last Newsletter went out in a hurry, and I had loads of bits of information hanging around that didn’t make it – so here they are.
HOPE YOU ENJOYED AUGUST – WE DID!
As I said, the weather in August wasn’t TOO bad, and some of the OPC committee members managed to make the most of it. I spent a bit of time in Edinburgh while the Fringe was in full flow; the other Bob managed to fit in a bit of walking between Dent and Ribblehead, as well as going to Cropredy; and our President bagged himself a few more Munros. Our new Treasurer was [possibly] resting, between work at the Great Yorkshire Sh
ow, and the new Rugby season starting in Harrogate, while the old one was over in France. Our Chairman Fitzy has been doing what all good Civil Servants do – working non-stop, all hours God sends, including travelling up and down to London no doubt sitting in the corridor on ‘ram-packed’ trains! Oh – and one of our committee members got married! So congratulations from all of us to Rosie Greaves [she’s the one in white] and her new husband Tom Kingsley.
So if you haven’t seen much from us around town, that’s why – I do hope you managed to have some sort of break yourselves and enjoy the good weather while it was around. It’ll soon be time for boots and sweaters, and pints of porter round pub fires [so not all bad!]
Love ‘em or loathe ‘em [and I’m definitely more of a fence-sitter than a beer-ticker on this one!] there are certainly plenty of ‘em around! Here are a few Yorkshire ones coming up –
2 – 4 September, Westival [Beer & Music] at Dewsbury Railway Station;
8 – 11 September, Leeds International Beer Festival at the Town Hall
14 – 17 September, York Beer Festival at The Knavesmire;
22 – 24 September, Calderdale Beer Festival at Hebden Bridge Town Hall; and
22 – 24 September, Doncaster Town Beer Festival, at The Flying Scotsman Centre.
STILL TRYING TO DEFINE CRAFT BEER?
When CAMRA first appeared almost 50 years ago, it was quite clear what they were attempting to do – put an end to the universality of so-called ‘beers’ like Watney’s Red Barrel, and Worthington E, and get back to ale that was made properly and tasted right. Both process and product were relatively easy to define, and so CAMRA had very definite objectives, which it seems to have achieved. Now, of course, it’s going through its ‘revitalisation’ soul-searching and hair-pulling, to see where it should direct its energies in the next half century.
If it’s going to start arguing about ‘craft’ beer, then it really should try to define what that means – which has been notoriously difficult so far. Many people have an idea of what a craft brewery might be – small, set up by a few mates in their 30s, hipster-run, and adventurous in their branding, recipes and attitude to where and how beers should be marketed and sold. But the giant brewers weren’t slow to spot the market shift and opportunities, and are now selling craft beers themselves.
One of the more noticeable trends in the craft beer sector has been the plentiful use of non-European hops, and spices, fruits, vegetables and the kitchen sink chucked in as well, to produce a massive array of flavours that us old ‘uns never associated with the word ‘beer’ at the end of the line. ‘Craft’ beer has a feeling of superiority about the word as well, in the same way that ‘real’ ale still does, and last year an article in The Guardian told us that “. . . possibly in a secret underground bunker, but more likely in a pub, the leading lights of new wave British brewing will meet to do something that, so far, beer geeks have found impossible. They will define what craft beer is in the UK.”
Tony Naylor went on to say “This attempt by the new United Craft Brewers (UCB) to codify craft is essential in their mission to, ‘promote and protect the interests of British craft brewers, their beers and beer enthusiasts’. UCB has been established by the scene’s big guns – Brewdog, Beavertown, Magic Rock and Camden Town Brewery are among its founders – but, nonetheless, and despite the upbeat “Hey guys!” tone of their first public statement, I cannot help but think they have set themselves a thankless task, and a pointless one.” And how right he was!
It’s worth reading the whole of Tony’s article before checking out this blog by Boak and Bailey, about the deafening silence from UCB this year. It’s based on an interview with Richard Burhouse of Magic Rock, and interestingly he says “The main issue was not being able to come to a definition. I thought we were making progress but it sort of slipped away. It kept falling down on technicalities, like, what happens if you’ve outside influences and investors. What percentage? Etcetera. It was all very nebulous, hard to pin down.” Co-founder Brewdog were presumably too tied up in expanding, and increasing their share ownership, while co-co-founder Camden were busy selling out to global giant AB-InBev.
Maybe Richard could start with this suggested definition from Matthew Curtis in an article on the Total Ales website – “I don’t believe being ‘Craft’ has anything to do with the size of a brewery. Craft Beer can come from a minuscule nanobrewery or an industrial giant. The key to being craft is quality, consistency and the desire to innovate. But above all it’s about flavour. Craft Beer exists because of the modern human desire to experience exponentially more interesting and pronounced flavours. If your beer doesn’t have any, well then it’s probably not Craft.” [Mind you, it’s also interesting to read all the comments at the foot of that article – which are by no means all in agreement! One suggestion is that calling your beer ‘craft’ just allows you to increase the price of a pint!]
Anyway, at the moment they don’t seem to be interested in working with CAMRA – which is possibly a shame, as CAMRA have a wealth of experience in defining, fighting, marketing and campaigning. Nor do UCB seem particularly interested in working with SIBA [Society of Independent Brewers], who James Watt of Brewdog said “frustrated (him) massively”. Also a shame, as SIBA claim on their own website to “represent more than 825 independent craft breweries” already, and also have more than 30 years’ experience of working within and fighting against the UK’s licensing and taxation system, which could be invaluable. What’s more, they’ve now set up a craft beer accreditation scheme. Breweries will be able to show the accreditation stamp on pump clips, bottles, cans, point of sale and website. Director of Bucks XT brewery Russ Taylor added this to any definition of craft beer – “Making a clear distinction for true craft beer is a great step forward [the SIBA classification highlights where the beers are from independent brewers] this is at the heart of what makes a beer craft”. I could speculate why the UCB concept has never really taken off, and it might have absolutely nothing to do with Camden ‘selling out’ and Brewdog wanting to be top dog. But I can’t be bothered, so I’m off for a craft-y pint! Cheers!
[Oh, and by the way, Brewdog – the company who “decided to stop brewing cask ale a long time ago, because we didn’t like how little control we had over the final beer” – has launched a new live beer. And if you didn’t already think they were way too far up their own spile-hole (sorry) the reason they give for doing it is “The launch of a live beer flies in the face of everything BrewDog has said before and that’s why we’ve done it.” That seems a bit like Jeremy Corbyn saying “I’ve always been a firm believer in social equality and the rights of individuals from all backgrounds – that’s why I’ve decided to join Britain First! Anyway, if that wasn’t already crazy enough for you, James Watt said “We’ve not produced a cask-conditioned ale, we’ve produced something further down the evolutionary scale”, whatever that might mean in hipster-craftspeak. But at least he’s offered to share the technology BrewDog have developed free with any other ‘craft’ brewery – so he must know what one is, even if no-one else seems to be able to agree on a definition!]
I know you can never get fed up of the wide choice of pubs in Otley, but if you have a ‘designated driver’, and you fancy a trip into the awesome Yorkshire countryside, take a look at the Leeds List website for their “30 country pubs that are worth leaving the city for”. You’ll already know some – like the Sun Inn at Norwood [pictured], Dick Hudson’s at Bingley, and the Cow and Calf – but there are others that you might never have heard of, let alone visited. Leeds List is a useful website for all sorts of reasons – whether you’re looking for food or drink in Leeds; cultural or sporting or shopping opportunities; or just something to do with the kids next weekend.
If you’d rather not drive, and you think part of the fun of visiting country pubs is walking a bit first, to work up a thirst, you might like Bob Steel’s book – [CAMRA’s] Yorkshire Pub Walks. It includes 5 different city walks, as well as 10 in North Yorkshire and 10 in West Yorkshire – one of which is entitled “Over the Chevin to Otley”. Must be good! It’s worth checking the CAMRA website before you set off though, because of this –
“Please be aware that some pubs in the Calder Valley were affected by the December 2015 floods, although most are now open once more. These floods also destroyed the bridge over the Calder at Copley, which was an important link on Route 14. This means that the route as described cannot be followed unless and until a replacement is built. On route 15, Elland Bridge was also destroyed, although a footbridge has replaced it; but there are also fears for the nearby Barge & Barrell which is under threat of closure. Please check with the pubs listed in the book or with local transport agencies, to confirm the viability of your chosen walks.”
IS MORRIS DANCING OFFENSIVE?
Now I know some of you would say yes without thinking, just ‘because it’s Morris dancing!’, but I’m really referring to a decision by Shrewsbury Folk Festival [SFF] to ban traditional full face black make up. Skipton Morris side Flag Crackers of Craven have objected, saying the voluntary equality group who threatened SFF with legal action should “concentrate the fight against racism on cases where individuals or groups are genuinely racially offensive and dangerous”. So what do you think – a perpetuation of a centuries-long tradition that harms no-one, or a casual acceptance of the ritual denigration of black people? I’m sure it would make for a great discussion thread on some of the Otley Facebook pages . . .
MORE FROM CAMRA
Snippets from the September issue of the CAMRA newspaper, WHAT’SBREWING, and the local Bradford CAMRA mag, Tyke Taverner.
PUBBY McPUBFACE – Yes, I suppose it was inevitable. Peter Daniels “came up with the idea to change the name of his Wrexham pub in a bid to attract more customers”. Must have taken a long time to come up with that idea – and I wonder what sort of customers he wants to attract? Presumably the ones who think Mrs Brown’s Boys is the best British sitcom of the 21st century.
CAMRA PUBLICATIONS – The 44th Good Beer Guide is out on the 15th of September, and later in the month the Year in Beer Diary 2017 appears. It’s more than just a diary, with festivals and other beer-related dates, and a wealth of beer and brewing facts.
MORE PUNCH SALES – Apparently Punch Taverns expect to sell 400 locals over the next 4 years, with sites likely to be sold one by one, according to chief executive Duncan Garrood. Now we know the lease of The Black Bull in Otley Market Square has been on the market for months. We also know the current lease runs out in April. Is there anyone out there who might be interested in buying a freehold, free-of-tie pub in the centre of Otley if Punch decide to let that one go?
‘ALTERNATIVE OTLEY PUB CRAWL’ – I’m not sure why Peter Holmes called it alternative, in his splendid piece about Otley pubs in the July/August Tyke Taverner, but he visited 8 of “the 18 town centre pubs listed on the ‘Historic Otley Ale Trail’ map.” His top two were The White Swan and The Junction, although his favourite in this area is The Junction at Baildon. He will be coming back to try the other pubs later.
ALTERNATIVE OTLEY PUB MAP – The latest TT also contained a photo taken by Jeff Uttley of the beautifully drawn map of Otley, with its town centre pubs highlighted, which has been displayed outside The Curious Hop in New Market.
LAST MENTION OF ROUNDHEADS? – Tyke Taverner also had half a page about the Hairy Bikers and The Black Bull, with the now famous picture of 4 Roundheads in Audrey’s bar. There was also a quote from our Chairman, about the important part pubs have played in the social and economic life of Otley, and about how good it is to see Otley’s pubs in the media yet again.
LEEDS BEER WEEK
I mentioned this event in the August newsletter. It actually runs from 28/08 to 06/09, and kicked off with a launch party at Northern Monk Refectory on Bank Holiday Sunday. There are fabulous individual events, week-long events, beer trails and offers over the 10 days, and Otley is even included, with the –
CURIOUS SUMMER SOCIAL
North Bar Social and The Curious Hop have joined forces to bring a beer festival to Otley like no other. In partnership with North Bar Social’s next door neighbours, The Woolpack Music Studios and Art Space, who will be supplying the music throughout the day as well as lending their outside space which will be extended so as many beer lovers as humanly possible can be crammed in! Northern Monk, Beavertown, Ghost and North Brewing Co will be making an appearance as well as Marcus from The Curious Hop selling his own selection of beers. Manjit’s Kitchen will also be pulling up the horse box to supply food for the day, so it should be a cracking event. Just needs the sun to shine to make it perfect . . .
AND FINALLY . . .
I’ll leave you with this story from The Daily Mash, about what can happen if you don’t stop after the first pint – “So I guess we’re staying out now?” says third pint!
– – / / – –
As I mentioned briefly in the introduction, this month’s meeting is in The Roebuck, which is up the hill on the North side of the river. Because it’s a fair way out of town, we’ll be staying there all evening after the committee meeting, rather than moving on to other pubs.
The Roebuck has a large car park, if you don’t fancy the 20-minute walk out of town, but if you do come by car, please have a designated driver who won’t be having any alcoholic drinks. And always take this advice from the Leeds CAMRA magazine ‘New Full Measure’ for Summer 2016. “DON’T BE A WAZZOCK! DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE. Public transport information for the Leeds area is available from Metro offices and at wymetro.com There really is no excuse”
Hope to see you up there; at any of our other events; or just enjoying yourself sometime in an Otley pub!
29 August 2016