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08-06-2014, 11:27
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As you read this, it will be the 190th article which has appeared in this slot just after the CalderAle News. *That is approximately 142,000 words, over twice the length of my favourite book, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. *I’ve only got another 3 volumes this size and I’ve written War and Peace. **Yes, thats right you guessed it, this is the piece to fill this page while I am on holiday.
Looking back at nearly the last 4 years of columns its been a good fun writing these every week. *The beer world is always changing and yet some things don’t change at all. *Enterprise Inns and Punch Taverns continue to hover just above administration, Greene King still can’t make good beer and we still can’t define exactly what craft beer is. *The first two things will stop eventually in a messy pile of debt and assets and the last two, well they will go on until the sun becomes a red giants and swallows up the earths orbit.
Since 2009, I’m glad to say that beer drinking tastes seem to have become more refined, Four years ago saw you having to search hard for craft beers and quality cider in specialist shops and the right pubs. *Now the bigger brand craft beer is available in Wetherspoons and Punch Taverns owned premises. ***Boxed ciders and quality tap brands such as Westons, Thatchers and Aspalls are in many pubs you visit and wide ranges from these producers are stocked in most large supermarkets as are the aforementioned larger craft beer brands.
There is almost 2 streams to the craft beer market now, you have nationally successful brands who have really good coverage in the region they reside in, but also are available in most other areas of the country in a significant number of craft and mainstream bars. *Then you have the smaller businesses who can easily service their local county or regional pubs, but are limited by capacity to supplying to a small number of pubs outside of this area, mainly in the big cities. *You could argue there is a third stream of those which ship a significant amount of beer abroad like Brewdog and Magic Rock. *In fact it will only be a matter of time before Brewdog are big enough to be mainstream in size, but hopefully never in culture.
Back 4 years ago the pub market was on its arse. After 2 years of recession, a lot of pub landlords had got tired of fighting the bills and a virtually empty pub a lot of the week. *The Calder Valley was littered with closed pubs. *A few of these are still closed awaiting eventual demolition or conversion to apartments, the Black Lion, The White Lion, The Woodman to name some. **However a significant percentage have reopened, no mean feat given the number of floods over the last few years.
Pubs like the Fox and Goose in Hebden Bridge are now community owned pubs securing its future after the retirement of its long term owner and Todmorden now has a couple of really good ale pubs in it centre, plus a Wetherspoons (who for their sins are a safe haven for real ale). **Hebden Bridge has gained 1 and a half new pubs (The Old Gate and the pop up cider bar at the Railway Station) whilst in Sowerby Bridge, which frankly needed no more pubs, several have gone under substantial refurbishment inc. the Willam and Firehouse to bring them up to date. *Lets not forget Tim Martin now also has a footprint in the town as well with the Commercial.
I look at the local Calderdale pub scene now and I am very positive about it, I only see it getting better and better. **There is an appetite for good beer and our pubs are delivering more and more on this front. *Just look at the Cross Keys, Siddal to see what can be done in just 18 months, double pub of the year (CAMRA, SPBW), a mean reputation for their beer and now a fixture on the local real ale scene as well as for music fans over a weekend. **The Puzzle Hall Inn is arguably leading the music scene in the area, you have places like the Works doing regular comedy nights upstairs. *Brighouse now has a thriving pub music scene with 3 pubs putting on music regularly. *This shows confidence and if pub owners and landlords have that and are getting our pint money, the good ones will only give back to us.

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