This trip, on the first of August, was reward for volunteering for the bar at the Rail Ale Festival at Barrow Hill. Six of us from Dronfield CAMRA, Roger & Ruth Hepworth, Ken Perkins. Michelle Kay, Linda Walker and myself, Kevin Thompson, attended. Ken and Michelle did their own thing while the remaining four of us did our best to hang onto the main party.
Mark, the trip organiser, had laid on a coach to sample some of the delights of Wakefield at a variety of venues. The eager fifty or so CAMRA members assembled in Chesterfield on Saturday morning for the one hour journey up the M1. As everyone knows, Wakefield is the administrative centre of West Yorkshire. Pub quiz addicts will be familiar with the fact that Wakefield is the largest city in the UK which does not possess a League Football team.
Wakefield has a long history of brewing which is discussed in some detail on Wakefield CAMRA’s website: http://www.wakefieldcamra.org.uk/lost_brewers.html
First port of call was Fernandes Brewery Tap & Bier Keller, Avison Yard, which had opened earlier for our arrival. The queue soon ran from the bar down the pub’s narrow, steep stairs with drinkers quaffing their first pint free. Roger and Myself selected Ossett Brewery’s Yorkshire Blonde, as our first tipple, an extremely good session beer at 3.9% to start the day. Ruth, a dark beer drinker went with the Fernandes Dustcutter, while Linda plumped for a medium sweet, but strong cider. As there were people still just getting started on their first pint, we decided to sample another. This time we went with Fernandes Polaris, while the ladies stuck with their original choices.
Next on the itinerary came the Bull & Fairhouse, a traditional, music orientated pub with a good selection of ales. Sticking to paler ales, myself and Roger went with Old Bob’s Silver Bullitt at 4%, Ruth tried Hazelnut Mild from the Brass Castle Brewery while Linda went with Weston’s Rosies Pig, a medium cider at 5%. Actually attached next door on Market Street, it was a short hop to Graziers, a more sports orientated pub. There Roger and myself ordered two pints of Leed’s Brewery Pale, a nice hoppy beer, in line with the others we had sampled elsewhere. Ruth went with an old favourite in Taylor’s Landlord, while, I threw a nice Old Rosie cider in for Linda, omitting to mention the fact it came in at a leg wobbling 7.5%.
As we were fast approaching the halfway point of the day, the munchies set in and we went off in search of food. On the main shopping area of Westgate, we found a nice local bakers to fill a corner. The sausage roll, chicken and stuffing rolls and Cornish pasty did the trick and we set off for the next destination of Wakefield Labour Club, affectionately known locally as “The Red Shed,” due to it’s socialist roots. The club situated, just off the bottom of the Ridings, was already quite busy and our numbers soon had it buzzing with conversation. The beer was cheap and an excellent Phoenix Gold was consumed by the men, while Ruth chose a Plum Porter from Titanic Brewery.
Due to its reputation, we walked back over Westgate in search of Harry’s Bar. After a few mistakes with the GPS, a local actually pointed out the alleyway where the pub was situated. This bar was lovely, a quaint, wooden adorned building, large enough for the group, but small enough for intimate conversations. First choice here was a favourite of mine, which Roger went along with, Moorhouses Pride of Pendle, a consistently good pale. Ruth plumped for the North Riding Oatmeal Stout, a pint of which I finished the day on. The cider on the bar which caught Linda’s eye was a cherry 5% medium.
So, as it approached 6pm and with a bellyful of beer, we wobbled our way back to Wakefield Train Station for our coach pick-up, with good experiences of great venues, and the added bonus of no poor beer throughout the day. Another beer was consumed in the Blue Bell in Chesterfield, Hobgoblin’s Gold, before boarding the bus back to Dronfield. I should think we will return sometime, especially as Revolution Brewery is opening a venue there later this year to boost the real ale scene.