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This week marks the last issue of Pubpaper for this year and so it seems the perfect time to do a brief review of 2012. *The year has generally been a good one personally from a pub and beer position although many in the trade may not agree with me. *However the last couple of months has took the sheen off the year for me. *This was due to the closure or change of management of two of the best ale pubs in the Calderdale area, one I was forewarned about well in advance, the other one I found out about via a contact on twitter checking with me if the facts were true.
The first was Lewins, a pub which had become one of the core players in the Halifax real ale scene over the last 15 months. *Good knowledgeable staff, a well selected rotation of ales and being made to feel welcome made this one of my favourite venues. *It was always inevitable that Karl would move on as he has from the previous 39 pubs. *Sadly it appears that the new permanent landlord has not learnt from the successful business model that worked before. *The small gap of closure between Karl leaving and him taking over would not have helped business at all, with the new local competitor in Bow Legged with Brass more than happy to take their customers, as it was already when Karl was winding down his management of the business. **The pub has seemed quiet whenever I have passed, which is not a good thing.
The second closure only happened last weekend, with the sudden closure of the Ship Inn in Brighouse, one of the stalwarts of the Brighouse real ale scene. *I only found out about the closure when a twitter follower contacted me asking if the pub had closed and said rumours were that it was not going to be opening any time soon again. *I had only passed the pub a couple of days previously and it had the usual gaggle of smokers outside. *I didn’t get a chance until the following Wednesday to check this out myself. *Sadly the facts were true. *Checking with the editor of this paper only confirmed that this was not likely to be a short term closure. *Trading always seem good with a regular crowd at lunch, tea time and evening. **Whatever the reason, there are some good members of staff who are without wages at the moment. If we were to lose this pub it would be a great loss to the real ale scene, I hope the situation resolves itself soon, but I am not confident.
We also lost a good number of pubs for a period due to the flooding this year, Mytholmroyd pubs were pretty much wiped out over the two periods of flooding, the Dusty Miller and Shoulder of Mutton taking the brunt of the water damage. *The town’s’ stock of pubs was already reduced with The White Lion having closed long before the water came along. *The Shoulder of Mutton and Dusty Miller have only just re-opened and deserve the best of luck for 2013. *Hebden Bridge lost Moyles and Bar Place was badly hit due to its below street level location. *The Railway Inn was also closed in the town when Punch Taverns decided not to re-open post flood. *At this time it is not known to the author if the pub has now re-opened under new ownership.
We also lost an excellent landlord in the guise of Chris who ran the Red Rooster in Brighouse until a couple of months ago. *Running a pub is hard work and he proved that by his burn out. *He was responsible for myself become a regular patron again after several years of irregular visits, although a significant contributing factor in this was the regular supply of Magic Rock beer. *The new management however do seem to be keeping up the good work.
Despite all this there has been a lot of positive news in new pub provision within the area, with Bramsche in Todmorden providing excellent beer and food in a family friendly surrounding. Other existing pubs in the town have also grasped the real ale mantle this year as well. *The Old Gate in Hebden Bridge is also looking like it will become an excellent destination for craft and real ale fans in excellent presented premises, a correspondent of mine confirming this from more visits than me. *The supply of real ale in Sowerby Bridge may not have expanded numerically pub wise, which experienced its major growth spurt in previous years, however the increased take up of real ale across the pub stock in the town is always a good thing.
Here’s to a good 2013 for the pubs of Calderdale.