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One topic I keep returning to in these columns is customer service. *This can make or break a pub regardless of the range of beers, the decor or food on offer. *If your customers are not made to feel welcome then nobody will be there to enjoy it. **Most pubs get this right enough for you to consider returning in the future, however those who really get it right make you want to return in the future.
Having a family sometimes means sacrificing the best beer for somewhere everyone can relax and be made welcome. *However in Calderdale we have some gems which combine very good beer and are family friendly. **The Cross Keys at Siddal is the latest pub to realise that welcoming children keeps the adults drinking there longer, even if they are drinking coffee or soft drinks when driving. *With a chest of toys in the back room and small childrens play area in the beer garden, it is a fantastic place just to chill out over the weekend. *With 6 good beers and decent ciders it also caters for the adults equally well. **Equipment is not always needed, sometimes it is just the welcome which makes the place, the Ship Inn at Brighouse being a prime example of this among others.
One such pub is Hand Drawn Monkey Beer Shop in Huddersfield. **The recently expanded premises now make it far less cramped and gives the place that relaxed feel where you can chill out, something the old smaller size did not allow due to its popularity enforcing standing room only. *The second newly opened area is “faithful” to its previous use as a shop, and while work needs doing on the room, there is enough of a stamp of the personality of the fully developed original area to make it feel part of the premises and I admit to be a fan of exposed original stone flooring and floorboards, although the room will feel so much bigger once the suspended ceiling is removed.
This place has a huge selection of bottled beers and some very good local brews on tap with a wide range of the Magic Rock beers as well as the offerings from their own Hand Drawn Monkey brewery. *They also offer a big selection of real ciders which is hard to beat, drawing from the local presses at Pure North and Udders Orchard. *I’ll admit that for certain beers the bar is not cheap, with the stronger beers being sold in ? pint glasses only which cost between £3.50 and £4.00, but the standard strength beers are well worth the £3.40 to £3.80 per pint for the quality of the brews on offer. *The attitude when you drink here is certainly quality over quantity and is not a place to visit if you are after big brewery beers.
It doesn’t take a lot to balance the needs of both the family and the evening drinkers. *Little touches like the tables being painted with chalkboard paint ensures that they are kept busy with the minimum of effort. *However the staff went well above the call of duty needed to make everyone feel at home including bringing out a table football set without prompting. *I admit it would not be suitable for kids post tea time at weekends, however what this does ensure that we will be returning sans family when visiting Huddersfield next month for my birthday. *I was a fan of the place before this, but this has really cemented its place in my top 5 bars. *Its just a pity it doesn’t open on Sunday’s on a regular basis (they opened for Huddersfield Food and Drink festival on this occasion), but everybody needs a day off I suppose.
Having the shop on the premises is a god send when you want that bottle for the evening when you get home and the organic cider from Herefordshire was one of the best my wife has tried. * Huddersfield has many good ale houses, and it takes a lot to shine bright, HDM manages this.