Summer’s still hanging on! Otley’s beer gardens have seen flocks of migrating sun-worshippers getting their final fix before Autumn really sets in, and the floral displays around town have been glorious – enough to win not only a gold award in the Yorkshire in Bloom ‘Town’ category, but also to make Otley the best blooming town in Yorkshire! Thank you to all the pubs whose displays helped impress the judges when they came round town in July. Mind you, my fingers are beginning to seize up in the cold on the keyboard as I type this, so I wonder which of Otley’s pubs will be the first to light up their wonderfully welcoming open fires in the coming weeks [or days]?





Fortunately, the summer sun did hang on until Sunday the 13th, for the Transport Extravaganza at Knotford Nook. The queues of traffic in and out of Otley were getting silly by about 10:30, but the stewards soon sorted that out, and the fields filled up nicely by midday. There was a busy boot sale as well as the food and drink stalls [including our friends the Old Yorkshire Pit], events in the arena, and more Rolls-Royces than you would normally even see in a day in Yorkshire’s ‘Golden Triangle’! My own favourites were the gorgeous owls on display, and the spiders and reptiles. Nothing to do with transport, I know!







I’ve been reliably informed that I might have had double vision in some pubs, from trying out all the Yorkshire Ales, and that the [probable] winner of the most Yorkshire draught beers on the bar during Yorkshire week, was The Junction – with 11! There’s no prize, I’m afraid, but once again I’d like to express our thanks to all the pubs for joining in with the spirit of another one of OPC’s suggested activities to raise the profile of Otley as a famous pub town. It’s a hard enough job running a pub without us asking them all to do more, just because we think it might be a good idea! But once again our press release prompted coverage from local press and radio, and made more people aware of the active pub scene in town – and hopefully led to more people coming through the doors!




Remember last month’s article on beer cocktails? Well, in the interests of good journalism, our minutes secretary Catriona had to try out at least one of them at this event in Leeds Town Hall on the 5th of September. She had a beer Margarita from our friends at the North Bar, which admittedly had twice the amount of tequila in it as beer, shortly before she started to talk to the wall in the cells!




As if to prove that more people far and wide are becoming aware of the attraction of all the pubs in Otley, I greeted CAMRA members from Wolverhampton and Ripon who were visiting town last Saturday. We met in The Old Cock, and I kicked off with a pint of Elland Brewery’s Amnesia, so I can’t remember anything after that! I know we went to The Junction, which was packed with loud men in striped rugby blazers on their way up into the Dales. Then on to the Otley Tap House, where at least one of our number had some solid sustenance before continuing. I had to leave them there, because of my sad addiction to listening to Leeds United draw again, but I’m sure they continued to enjoy themselves in several more pubs around town.




I was interviewed recently by Andrew Hankinson for the Yorkshire edition of this magazine, which is now available in most supermarkets and newsagents, and he produced a really good article about Otley’s pubs. He told me that I could share the .pdf file of the article with OPC members, so it has been attached to the email they received with this newsletter. I’m afraid anyone else reading this blog will have to buy a copy of the magazine if they want to see it!




And while still thinking of rugby blazers, I should mention that we offer our heartiest congratulations to Otley Rugby Club as it celebrates its 150th anniversary this year! (Strangely, it could also have celebrated its centenary as a Rugby Union Football Club just 8 years ago! This brilliant article by Tony Collins of Sheffield Hallam University, called “Myth and Reality in the 1895 Rugby Split” points out that Otley joined the Northern Union in 1900 and played in it for six seasons before disbanding. They weren’t reformed as a rugby union club until 1907.)


The club, and the town, are extremely proud of their history, and the successes they have achieved over the past 150 years. They are determined to fulfil their vision of being a welcoming, inclusive and successful family rugby club at the heart of Otley’s community, while looking forward to even greater times ahead and hoping to promote Otley to a national audience. Why not go down and support the club at its Cross Green ground one Saturday afternoon? It’s not much more than 5 minutes’ walk from the town centre, just past the Asda supermarket . . .




. . . and if you would like to find out about the Rugby Club, but are a bit unsure about going there for the first time on a match day, why not take a look round the club house and ground during Otley Beer Festival? It returns to Cross Green this year on Friday the 20th and Saturday the 21st of November. 62 real ales, and profits going to local charities; £3 entry fee including a glass and programme. There’ll be much more detail in the next newsletter, but in the meantime if you have a group, sports team, business or just a family who would like to sponsor a barrel, the cost is only £30 – with tickets and beer tokens included. For more detail, see the OBF15 website.





Home brewing is not a big money-spinner for pubs, I know! But at least the home brew night being run by Otley specialist beer shop The Curious Hop is taking place in one of our pubs. It’s upstairs at North Bar Social from 7:30 pm this Wednesday, September 16th. Home-brewers and wannabe home-brewers should bring a bottle, taste, discuss, learn things, and drink beer. [Preferably purchasing some downstairs as well!]


And while we’re on the subject of homebrew, this year’s Waitrose supermarket/Thornbridge Brewery competition has been won by an astrophysicist from Cambridge. Will Alston’s Rhubarbe de Saison has been brewed at the Thornbridge brewery in Bakewell, [full story here] and will be available in selected Waitrose stores from October [though I don’t know if Otley will be one of them, I’m afraid.]




I’ve said it before, but I might as well say it again – pubs are not just places to go to drink alcohol in the evening. Many of them now provide a range of hot drinks as well as soft drinks and snacks, and they’re still great places to meet your mates and relax at any time of day. Loads of pubs have free wi-fi access as well, so you can catch up with your emails or social media and update your blog. So – if you do want to take part in Macmillan Cancer Support’s latest charity funding scheme [even by being a Designated Dryver – ugh!], you can do so without bankrupting your poor old local publican. Just stop buying cheap booze down the supermarket, and get out and socialise at your local!




Alastair Simms, of White Rose Cooperage Ltd in Wetherby, is the last remaining Master Cooper in England, and the country’s only independent commercial cooper. You might remember that I wrote about the SPBW recently – Society for Preservation of Beers from the Wood. Well, they’re still going strong, and people like Alastair are crucial to their enjoyment of real ale from wooden casks. So they will have been delighted to see him offering the chance of a lifetime recently, for the right candidate to become his apprentice and learn the ancient trade. Unsurprisingly, it was a very popular offer, and if you check out the White Rose Cooperage Facebook page now, you’ll see this message. “Thank you for the overwhelming response to the job vacancy. Due to high volume of applicants it will take a while to process them all fairly.” Fortunately Alastair has employed an HR company to sort it out for him, so the creation and repair of barrels will not be compromised!




Three members of the OPC committee visited the Fox and Goose in Hebden Bridge last month – the first community-run pub in West Yorkshire. One of the opportunities for saving any pub that is threatened with closure, is for a community group to organise a sale of shares in the pub so they can run it themselves. We met a couple of the directors of the community-led company now running the Fox and Goose, along with the manager, and they told us about the long process they had to go through before everything was finalised – and the amount of hard work involved. The pub is now thriving again, and because members of the community now feel a closer affinity with the pub they own, there is never any difficulty finding volunteers whenever any minor works need undertaking in the building!


Some of you might also know Haigy’s bar on Lumb Lane in Bradford [especially if you’re City fans!], and that is another pub that might be heading down the community-ownership route. A group of CAMRA members in Bradford have set up a ‘Saving Haigy’s’ steering group to garner support, adopt a constitution and elect a management committee. You can read more about it in the September/October edition of Tyke Taverner, which you can usually pick up in some of the pubs in Otley.


And why are we interested in this, you might ask! Well, there might well come a time when one of the property companies decides they want to sell off one of the pubs in Otley. With all the ACVs in place now, the town will have the opportunity to decide whether or not they want to make an effort to save the pub by buying it themselves. There are a number of organisations around who will offer help – both advisory and financial – but advice from groups who are going through the process themselves, or who have been successful with their bid, can be invaluable. OPC itself is not constituted in a way to allow it to run a community-led purchase itself, but we would obviously be willing to help in any way we could – so we are starting to gather information now in case it’s ever needed.


One of the biggest weekend events on the annual Otley calendar comes round again this very weekend, when the 24th Folk Festival comes to town. The whole town is always buzzing, with hundreds, if not thousands, of extra visitors, and music and dancing taking place all over town – much of it completely free, mainly inside and outside pubs. This year The Black Horse Hotel is once again a major venue, with concerts on Friday evening, and Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Unbelievably, the BBC website today is forecasting NO RAIN for the whole 3 days in Otley, with even some sunny periods scattered around over the weekend!


Full details of performers, venues and concerts, together with a map and much more, are all contained in the OFF Official Programme, available in Otley library, and pubs round town. Here are just some of the attractions you can expect at pubs over the Festival weekend, and the rest of the month. And of course pub sessions, singarounds and dancing are all free!



Saturday 19/09 at 13:00 – The famous George Formby Appreciation Society [with their little ukuleles in their hands!]; and

Sunday 20/09 at 13:00 – Blimey O’Reilly, with Irish music and more!

Both these events will be completely free, with donations/collections for charities.

All weekend, there are likely to be artiste sessions free in the pub.


AND – Do you remember The Hairy Bikers filming earlier in the year at The Black Bull? Well that series, called ‘The Pubs That Built Britain’ is expected to be screened on TV starting sometime in October, and the pub are considering having some sort of event in the pub to watch the screening live. So keep watching this space!



Fri 18/09 @ 20:00 – Session with Station Folk

Sat 19/09 @ 11:00, 11:45 and 12:30 – Dancing outside in Bay Horse Court

Sun 20/09 @ 11:15 and 13:30 – Dancing outside in Bay Horse Court





Sat 19/09, 17:00 – 20:30 – Alibi, Country; Irish; Blues; Rock; 50s; 60s!! Back again by popular demand (Not part of the Folk Festival programme.)





Tues 15/09 – Gypsy Bill & Del Potter

Fri 18/09 – Bar Code Zebra

Sun 20/09 – Mambo Jambo



Fri 18/09 @ 20:30 – An evening with . . . Fireside Knights and Duncan McFarlane Band

Sat 19/09 @ 12:00 – Session with String Theory

Sat 19/09 @ 13:00 – Dancing outside in the stables yard

Sat 19/09 @ 14:00 –Wooden Hill; 15:00 – Summercross; 16:00 – Plumhall; 17:00 – Jon Palmer Band

Sat 19/09 @ 16:30 – Not an Irish session, with Phil, Steve, Harry etc.

Sun 20/09 @ 12:30 – Dancing outside in the stables yard

Sun 20/09 @ 12:30 – The Hall Brothers; 14:00 – Gum Trio.


I also have it on good authority that The Black Horse will be providing ‘The Green Room’ for OFF 15 artistes, and that it will be open “til late”!



Only 3 days to go before England face Fiji in the opening game of the 2015 Rugby World Cup! The pub will be showing as many games as possible, so come cheer the Men in White whilst enjoying a great selection of quality local real ales, some fantastic locally sourced honest food and plenty of Rucks and Mauls!



Sat 19/09 @ 12:00 – Music in the beer garden

Sun 20/09 @ 12:00– BBQ and music in the beer garden

Thurs 24/09 onwards – Cask Ale week

Every Sunday @ 19:00 – 21:00 – Sunday quiz

Every Monday from October onwards – Steak night

Every Wednesday from October onwards – Tapas available on Ladies’ night.

The pub is also introducing a web-based app – show the code at the bar and get a free pint! 72 pints to give away [you can only use the app once!]



Fri 18/09         }           –           ad hoc daytime sessions with Folk Festival artistes

Sat 19/09         }


Fri 18/09 evening – Kevin Curtin: the ultimate soul and Motown show.

Sat 19/09 evening – Nikki Rodgers: dynamic young female artiste.

Fri 25/09 – Claire Watson: first class female entertainer.

Sat 26/09 – Morgan J: highly entertaining artiste.


The Tavern also supports Otley Rugby Club – show your programme after a home game, and get a free pint! [Enjoy the remainder of Saturday watching Live Sports on SKY and BT Sport followed by Live Entertainment!]



Fri 18/09 @ 20:00 – Session with String Theory

Sat 19/09 @ 13:00 – Session with Station Folk

There might still be late room vacancies for the Folk Festival – contact the pub.



Fri 18/09 @ 20:30 – Folk duo starring the extremely talented violinist/fiddle player Mark Ostyn

Sat19/09 @ 20:30 – Acoustic singaround session

Sun 20/09 @ 20:30 – Acoustic singaround session


Also – food coming to The Red Lion soon!



Fri 18/09 – Kwame D

Fri 25/09 – Joe and Ann Gallagher

Fri 02/10 – Dave McKendrick

Sat 03/10 – Mike Jones

Sat 10/10 – Acoustic Twist [From TV’s The Voice]


Open mic nights, 2nd and 4th Tuesdays every month – and the Rugby World Cup on TV.



Fri 18/09 @ 18:00 – Singaround with Limezcurvy

Sat 19/09 @ 14:00 – Singaround with Jim Potter

Sun 20/09 @ 15:00 – Singaround with Monkey’s Fist

The pub celebrated the 5th anniversary of its opening [I know! Doesn’t time fly? Especially when you get to my age!] on September the 9th, and the place was packed. They’ve got another festival coming up in a few weeks’ – this time with ales ‘from the darkside’ (of the Pennines)!



Watch out for one or more weekly offers on beer, cider or lager, up to 50 p per pint off [between noon and 6pm]



Fri 18/09 @20:15 – Traditional Irish music session hosted by Irish Arts Foundation

Sat 19/09 @ 12:00 – Leeds Irish Ceìli. Music all day, outdoor bar, garden marquee

Sun 20/09 @ 12:00 – Festivities continue with another Irish session. A great weekend of music, food and dance. Yorkshire pit roast all weekend and extended bar hours.



Sat 26/09 @ 21:00 – Owls of Athens: amazing husband and wife acoustic covers duo.

Early warning for Halloween – Whiskey Pistol: Quality rock n roll and blues.

Fabulous new menu now available from Wednesday to Saturday, with all main meals costing only £12 for 2! Also Sunday carvery from midday. If you eat in the taproom, you can take your dog – and there are even usually free dog treats behind the bar!

Why not come down and join Otley Gamers who meet here every Monday evening at 18:30?



Fri 02/10 – Playing for Kicks: Classic pop & rock

Open mic nights, 2nd and 4th Thursdays every month

New beers coming all the time, including Grey Hawk, Moorhouses and Otley Gold



Winter menu starting at the end of September [although you wouldn’t guess Summer was over, from this picture today!] They’re fully staffed in the kitchen now, but are still looking for bar staff – over 18, and preferably experienced, please.



Coming soon – Wetherspoon’s “World’s biggest Real Ale Festival”, 16/10 to 01/11. From Adnam’s Extra to Zululand’s Zulu Blond [Suffolk to South Africa] there’ll be up to 50 real ales. Tasting notes and ale list available online.



– – / / – – / / – – / / – –


That’s all for now (surely that’s enough!) – with the usual apologies for things, places, people and events I’ve missed or misrepresented, and thanks as usual to everyone for giving me their time and information. [And landlords, don’t forget – the more you give me, the more I can tell potential customers about!]

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