DOWNLOAD THE PDF OF DAVE WICKETT AND KELHAM ISLAND (beta) HERE.
When we put together our Thornbridge Brewery ‘Rock Family Tree’ a while ago, several people responded with suggestions that we do the same for Kelham Island. Then, last month, we heard the sad news of the death of Kelham Island’s founder, Dave Wickett (and read tributes from Simon ‘Reluctant Scooper’ Johnson, Melissa Cole, Adrian Tierney-Jones and Pete Brown).
That spurred us on and, with help from Stuart Ross, a former head brewer at Kelham Island, now working his magic at, er, Magic Rock, we’ve put together a first cut. We also referred to some old Kelham Island newsletters and Linkedin, which is great source of information on brewers’ CVs. (Though it makes you feel like a stalker.)
Our first thoughts: this format doesn’t quite capture all that Dave Wickett did for beer and brewing. He’s there in the first box as the first head brewer at Kelham Island, but his role as owner was more than just ‘money man’. The consulting, advising and encouraging he did is also not recorded.
Nonetheless, it shows how many brewers passed through Kelham Island and, when put side by side with the Thornbridge chart, the strands connecting Britain’s breweries do become more obvious.
Corrections and suggestions welcome! Off you go.
Last time we went to York, in the early days of this blog, Maieb (now Tweeting instead of blogging) told us in no uncertain terms that we really ought to make it to the Maltings. So, a couple of weeks back, finding ourselves nearby, in a heavy snowstorm, frostbite beginning to affect our extremities, we decided finally to take his advice.
It’s a very cosy pub – a place where the bark of passive-aggressive signs is definitely worse than the bite. There is a tongue-in-cheek tone to some of it (“Our staff are not highly trained – please treat them accordingly”) and the service was very friendly. It was standing room only, no doubt in part because of the roaring fire and huge portions of basic, tasty, piping hot old-school pub grub.
On the beer front, the highlight for us was Sawbridgeworth Stout – so thick and chocolatey we wanted churros to dip in it. As well as several cask ales, there was also a really well thought out selection of bottles and, in honour of the season, hot Gluhkriek, perfect for supping while the snow falls outside.
Yes, we are southern softies. It wasn’t really that cold. And this is yet another pub which we are the very last people in Britain to visit…
We had a bit of time to kill Leeds between trains on our way back from Haworth and so found ourselves at The Pin on Dock Street. It’s one of the outlets for the relatively new Leeds Brewery and a loungy, brunchy cafe-bar. It isn’t a pub and, if we hadn’t been hungry and stopped to look at the menu in the window, we wouldn’t have noticed it especially.
The food was posh pub grub and excellent value for money at that, with a special mention for the best battered fish we’ve had in ages.
We tried one each of the Leeds Best Bitter (biscuity, brown and likeable) and Pale (a cracker – spicy, flowery with a lingering hop aftertaste).
There were Some interesting bottles (Brooklyn, Liefmans Kriek) but also a lot of pretentious ‘world lager’ like Cusquena and Pacifico.
We think it’s really great to see a different, more European model of boozer working in the UK – not everything has to be a pub or even a compromised pub.
We also stumbled upon their brewery tap on the way to catch our train and popped in there, too. This is more like a pub, albeit a would-be trendy one, and with a lot more beer on offer, including Midnight Bell, Leeds’ “premium dark mild”. It was OK but by no means a competitor to Timothy Taylor’s mild. Leodis, their lager, was off – shame.
They call it ‘Bronte Country’ or bang on about the Railway Children but, for all the wily windy moors and choo-choos, it’s the ubiquitous presence of Timothy Taylor which, for us, was the most obvious feature of Keighley and its surrounding towns and villages.
The Fleece in Haworth village was everything you could want from a pub: packed full of people of all ages, most of whom knew each other, but no less friendly for that. Another out of towner put it well: “Did you hear that sound from outside? A proper pub sound…”
They have a full range of Taylor’s beer, including Ram Tam, Dark Mild, Golden Best and, yes, a cracking pint of Landlord.
Amazingly, though, the beer was perhaps even better aboard a steam train on the Keighley and Worth Valley railway. Our perfect, almost pornographic pints had big marmalade flavours we hadn’t really been struck by before. The KWVR is the only mobile entry in the Good Beer Guide and thoroughly deserves it. We rode up and down a few times marvelling at the hard work and enterprise of the enthusiasts who had made this marvel possible.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that the barman had something of Bernard Cribbins about him.
We weren’t there long enough to visit everywhere recommended by Ten Inch Wheeler who grew up in the area, but there’s always next time. Thanks for the advice, TIW!
And, of course, it’s a regular stomping ground for Leigh, who’s also fan of the Fleece!