The Search for the Perfect Pint

Buffet Bar Crawl - Dewsbury, Huddersfield & Stalybridge

Norm, JH and me caught the train to Huddersfield at about 10:40 from Manchester Piccadilly. JP should have been there but Sue fell over the night before after a 'trip' to the Tunnes so a visit to Stepping Hill put paid to his day out.
Forty minutes later we arrived in Huddersfield. After a short detour to the bookies, we made our way to the Grove. This fantastic pub is only about a five minute walk from the train station (it's just behind the bus station over the Ring road). Alas it was shut - it doesn't open until 12 on Saturday.
Stuck for somewhere to go, we popped into The Plumbers Arms next to the bus station. I'm not sure what stunk most - the locals, the beer or the toilets. Ten minutes later after a very unsatisfactory pint of John Smiths we headed back to the train station to The Head of Steam. This is one of two bars at the station. Two excellent pints of 'Summer View - Rail Ale' later JH told us about a great pub called the Dog and Gun. After 10 minutes of fruitless walking we discovered that it had shut down about 7 years ago and was now a cafe.
With the day rapidly going downhill it needed an uplift so we decided to trek back to the Grove. 
What a great pub. It is a two roomed pub with 8 regular and about 10 guest beers. Two pints of Springhead and a pint of RCH Steam Silver later we were in a better mood. There isn't much choice of food in this pub although there are loads of unusual bar snacks such as flavoured insect larvae worms and smoked elk and salami we decided on a quite marvelous herby pork pie, had a swift pint of Springhead and headed back to the station.
Ten minutes later we were in Dewsbury at the West Riding Licensed Refreshment rooms. This bar is set in the old waiting room and is full of old railway memorabilia. Yet again the choice of beer was fantastic, including the regular Black Sheep and Timothy Taylor. We tried a pint of High House Sundancer and another RCH beer. We could have stayed longer but the music was bit too loud so we hopped on the next train to Huddersfield.
This time we went into The Kings Head which is the other of the two bars at the station. Yet again the choice of beers was first class, Timothy Taylor Landlord and best bitter, Farmers Blonde, Golcar dark mild, Oakhams JHB plus numerous others. We had two pints although not surprisingly I can't remember what they were
We then jumped on a train to Stalybridge to visit the Stalybridge Buffet Bar. This is exactly what it says on the tin. The conservatory has been updated and as it was such a sunny day, there was a good crew both inside and outside the bar. The beer choice was again extensive, Millstone, Copper Dragon, Castle Rock amongst others. The pub consists of four rooms, again full of railway posters, stained glass, railway memorabilia. It is famous for it's black peas and pies although we didn't bother as we just stuck to supping. Three more pints were enjoyed in the evening sun and alas soon it was time to get the 8:44 train back to Piccadilly.
A great day and we'll be doing it again soon.
Well we did it again! This time JP joined us and on a cold snowy day what better than a visit to the Head of Steam.
The first pint was a simply marvelous pint of Old Bear from the Empire Brewery in Halifax. A light zippy hoppy ale of 3.9% at a reasonable price of £2.40. We followed this with a quick walk to The Grove again and had another Empire beer - The Grove grog at £2.20 a pint. Another hoppy 3.9% beer. Beautiful. This was swiftly followed by a 4.2% Brighton Rocks from the White Brewery. This was a malty beer at a cost of £2.30. It seems they charge an extra 10p for a stronger beer. Norm, JH and I then tried a York beer called Nook. Another hoppy 3.7% at £2.20 a pint while JP tried the trusted Timothy Taylor Landlord (4.34 at £2.30).
We were getting into the swing of things now and tried a Kirkham Island (Sheffield) beer - Santas Little Helper. A dark treacle, caramel flavour at 5.2% for £2.50. This didn't stay in the glass long so we decided to go for a stronger beer - Brewdog Hardcore. This cost £1.30 for a 33cl glass. It was a massive 9.0%. Really strong and nutty and a taste of marmalade. Although JH likened it to jet engines fuel
Not content wit
h this stronger beer we tried a 56% vodka and a 70odd% Japanese whiskey before having our final pint in the Grove - a stoutish Stout from Thornbridge Brock. 4.1% at £2.30.
We bid a beery farewell and headed for the train. What seemed like minutes later we were in Greenfield and
heading for The Railway. We needed food so had a pie for £1.30. Excellent and another hoppy beer - Golden Pippin. £2.48 - the most expensive so far (3.9%). This was followed by a couple of pints of Tiger Rut from the Millstone brewery. Again this was £2.48 for a lovely 4.0% ale. Back on the train to Victoria and a visit to the Marble and The Angel on Rochdale Road. I know we tried a 5.9% Dobber for £2.50 but by then I had almost lost the plot.
Good Day.

Stalybridge Station Buffet Bar

Ever wanted to step back to Victorian times? Well try going here. The prices are certainly 2011 but don't let that put you off.The ever changing beer range is one to be desired. They have had almost 8000 different ales on since it opened and always have at least 8 different ones on at any given time. The food is different as well, with cheap bar snacks such as black peas, pies and sandwiches. Check their website for full details.

The Brittania - Mossely

Leave the station, cross the road, turn left and you're at the bar in a minute. A large comfortable stone pub with TV football, pool table and 6 real ales with regular Marstons / Jennings plus changing guests which vary in rarity but there's always something interesting and they often include small local breweries

The Railway - Greenfield

The Railway came to Greenfield when the station was built. Someone had the foresight to build a house for overnight stops, a licence to sell alcohol was applied for and over 150 years later this gem of a water hole is still very much in use. The station is directly opposite the pub. They always have a choice of good cask ales such as Deuchars - IPA, Charles Wells - Bombardier, Copper Dragon - Golden Pippin, Theakston - Old Peculier, Millstone - Tiger Rut, Elland - Beyond the Pale. As I mentioned earlier, they always have  splendid pork pies with various mustards on offer. No other food (except crisps).

Riverhead Tap - Marsden

Get off the train and walk down the hill for five minutes. There are a number of pubs in this little village, but this one is the best. It is the tap for Ossett brewery and Marsden's Riverhead Brewery Tap is best known for the quality of its liquid refreshment. The public house was opened in 1995 by local entrepreneur Philip Holdsworth, serving real ales made in a cellar microbrewery. The restaurant was only added in March 2007 following the Riverhead's sale to West Yorkshire rivals, the Ossett Brewery. Original Riverhead brews, all named after local reservoirs and still brewed on-site, now sit beside well-regarded Ossett beers at the bar. the boozer on the ground floor has a great drinking atmosphere. On tap are Riverhead’s beers  as well as Ossett’s ales and guests from another Ossett brew-pub, Fernandes, and London Pride.  Superior lager Veltins and Belgium’s Belle Vue Kriek are also on tap.

The Railway - Marsden

Leave the Riverhead (if you can) and walk back up the hill towards the station. Here's another fine little pub with numerous fine cask ales. It's a Marston's pub done out in a modern style and has several handpumps including Jennings/Marstons and guests, it also sells food

Huddersfield Train Station

There are two pubs on the station and both sell proper beer. The first is:

The Head of Steam

The station buildings are regarded as the best in Britain, and are grade 1 listed. When they took the premises over, they had been largely derelict for a great many years. They carried out a big renovation project and opened in March 1996. 
The outlet is a large, 4-roomed pub, with the rooms in 'quarters' around a central servery area. Each room has its own character and its own locals!  The Buffet acts as the main station buffet room. This is the main railway artefact 'museum' room, and is quiet; 
The Family Room is red, and has more railway artefacts on display and plenty of comfortable benches; The Lounge is the room live music takes place in. It is also where most of the advertising enamels are displayed; The Bar is a wood-floored room which houses a display of antique advertising posters and a neon sign collection, as well as art exhibitions. They deal almost exclusively with real ales from small independent micro and family breweries, rather than the national brewers and have long-standing links, which means they can get hold of virtually any beer brewed in the United Kingdom and Ireland! They have a few regular beers and many, many guests.   The regular beers at Huddersfield at present are from Harviestoun ,Black Sheep, Samuel Smiths and Thwaites. We regularly stock a mild ale; the most common being Thwaites Mild. As well as bitters and milds, we have guest real lagers (like Harviestoun Schiehallion) and real stouts from Ireland. They also stock an incredible range of guest real ales most pubs in the area cannot get hold of! 

Kings Head

The King's Head, formerly known as The Station Tavern, has been serving the Huddersfield community in its present form since 1979. The King's Head specializes in real ales and also stock well known brands of cider, bitter and lager. Whether you want to sample an ale from one of the many well known independent breweries, or one of the lesser known micro-breweries, they have what you need at prices you can afford. 
The King's Head is situated on the ‘East Wing’ of Huddersfield’s Railway Station, famously described by Sir John Betjeman, as the most splendid in England.' and also described as ‘a stately home for trains’. The station building itself was designed by the architect James Pigott Pritchett and built by the firm Joseph Kaye in 1846-7(1). The King's Head is a Grade 1 listed building and was established in our present form circa 1895. The King's Head consists of a large open plan room where you can see the original Victorian tiled floor, there are 2 smaller adjoining rooms. At the King’s Head they stock 2 Timothy Taylor beers and 8 rotating guest beers and pride themselves on the standard of quality of the products they sell. This is reflected by the awards they have won as well as being listed in ‘The Good Beer Guide’

The Grove Inn 2 Spring Grove Street, Huddersfield, HD1 4BP

For me, a trip on the Rail Ail trail isn't the same if you don't make time to visit the Grove. It's only a seven minute walk from the station so you've got no excuses or get a taxi if you're as lazy as KD, JN and SS. Their biggest selling point is that they always have Eighteen Real Ales from Regional and Micro Breweries PLUS Three Draught Ciders/Perries PLUS Oodles of Draught Foreign Stuff. The beer that is ALWAYS available is Aspall - Suffolk Cyder 5.5%, Brewdog 77 Lager 4.9%, 
Erdinger Urweiss 5.2%, Früh Kölsch 4.8%, Jever Pilsner 4.8%, Moravka Kvasnicové 4.4%, Neuzeller Kirsch (Cherry) Bier 4.8% (KeyKeg), Timothy Taylor Landlord 4.3%, Timothy Taylor Golden Best 3.5% and  Thornbridge Jaipur IPA 5.9%. They also have regular pumps from Brewdog, Dark Star, Durham, Fullers, Gadds, Marble, Thornbridge and two other ciders. If anything was unmissable, it's this pub.

25th June 2011

Myself Norman and JH were joined by Gibbo and Tony Curran for the trip. JP was at a weeding so had to get pissed elsewhere. The 11:11 train from Piccadilly was caught with ease and 40 minutes later we were heading for the Kings Arms on Huddersfield station. Obvious delight when I noticed that a Dark Star brew was on the agenda. Hophead, which is one of my favourites was the first to be tried. There was no disappointment. A very bitter and very hoppy 3.8% beer at a reasonable £2.30. Gibbo was a bit unsure because he's not used to these hoppy beers after a lifetime of supping a slightly darker Robinsons Best. Tony C decided to have another one while the rest of us chose a bitter from the Great Oakley brewery in Northants. This was called Oakley Blonde a 4.00% ABV also at £2.30. This wasn't as hoppy as the previous beer - it had a bitter sweet aftertaste. Still beautiful though. It was past noon now so we knew that the Grove would be open. A five or six minute stroll in the sunshine found us in this great boozer. Dark Star was again shining brightly on the blackboard so we all chose an American Pale Ale. This was a fantastic, extremely bitter drink at 4.7% for £2.70. For me it was the best drink of the day. We then had a senior loss of memory when none of us could remember Robert Carlyle's name. I can't even remember why we were talking about him but we all decided that he is a cunt. Ten minutes later and it was time for pint number 4. We have always liked trashy blonds so when we saw that Brew Dog had a drink called Trashy Blonde we had to try it. This was another very bitter bitter priced at £2.60  (4.1% ABV). Again it was beautiful.  No bad pints so far but we decided to head back to the station. This time we visited the Head of Steam, the other pub on platform one. The ale this time was a Harviestoun "Bitter and Twisted" which is exactly what the five of us were when we tasted it, It was shit. 3.8% ABV for £2.65. TC and JH attampted to take the drinks back but couldn't get the attention of the barman before the train to Slaithwaite was due. So they left in disgust. The rest of us supped up regardless. It was poor though. This was the first time we had been on this trip outside the football season on a Saturday and I wouldn;t really recommend going during the summer. Every train was packed to the rafters with drunks trying to outsing each other with their tribal chants, Burnley, Leeds, Halifax and Wigan fans seemed the loudest. With Burnley easliy the most annoying - young lads enjoying themselves at the expense of everybody else. Been there, seen it but it doesn;t mean that I want to endure it again. (Grumble, grumble, moan, moan etc). A couple of minutes later and we were in Slaithwaite. A swift walk down the hill and Norm and I were the first in the Commercial (just before the hoards of other pissheads from Astley and Wigan). We tried the local brew - a Commercial Empire  - a 3.8% bitter for only £2. The cheapest of the day. Four of us really liked it but TC thought it 'not very good'. Waht seemed like minutes later, we were back at the station. Unfortunately so were about 150 others. Rather than join the hoards at Marsden, we kept on the train to the Railway in Greenfield. This is a good little pub but they never seem to change the range of beers. Nevertheless we tried a Copper Dragon for £2.70 (3.9%) which looked flat but tasted good. Incredibly hoppy. We also had a Wells Bombadier 4.1% for £2.70 and a Saltaire Blonde a 4.00 % also for £2.70. JH thought it tasted like shit but the rest thought it was okay, if a bit like American Cream soda. The pub had run out of pies and we still hadn't eaten since breakfast so we headed back to the station and headed back to Marsden. A walk down the hill brought us to the Riverhead brewery for a Ossett Pale Gold. Really nice bitter for £2.80 (3.8%). Gibbo and I headed off to the chippy while the rest sampled the beers. Four pies and chips and a fish and chips later we were heading back up the hill to the Railway. A few of us chose different beers this time. Me, JH and TC had a Marstons EPA (3.6%), Norm had a Jennings Cock a hoop (4.2%) whilst Gibbo who had had enough of bitter for the moment had a Strongbow. I know the Jennings cost £2.75 but didn;t see the rest of the prices. The round for 5 drinks was £14. Time for the next train and the bastards from Burnley and Wigan were on it again. We got off at Mossley and headed to The Brittania. We had a nice pint of Millstone True Grit a 5% bitter but there wasn't a lot of choice. We sat outside with a couple form Stalybridge who had adopted a dog from Wythenshawe. It was the scariest looking dog I had ever seen. It even wore it's own bullet proof vest. The final stop was Stalybridge Buffet bar. We all had a Sladek which is brewed in the Polish/Czech style. Again this was very good. It then got a bit messy as TC jumped on a Leeds bound train, JH and Gibbo went to HG and Norm to Bolton. I stayed in Staylbridge for a while and had a can of Strongbow in a pub next to the football ground. Another great day - TO BE REPEATED (but not on a Saturday in summer).