>Sir Titus Salt was just one of dozens of stupendously wealthy Victorian wool barons, but unlike many of the others he built a ‘model’ village for his employees – Saltaire. Now a world heritage site, It’s all still there, sandwiched between the River Aire and the A650 Bingley-Bradford road. Salt’s clogged and shawled workers got streets of well-built cottages, a library, wash houses, a hospital, allotments and even a boathouse, all in the shadow of what was then the world’s largest industrial building – Salt’s Mill. Despite local legend, there’s no record of Titus being teetotal. Saltaire’s original lack of a pub (there are now three) is down to Salt’s professed dislike of ‘beerhouses’ and the fact that many of his staff were Methodists.
I wonder what the epically-bearded patriarch would think about the 2011 Bradford Beer Festival being held in his sumptuous Victoria Hall? Last friday, Our Lad and me were lucky to snag two of the last 300 tickets held back on the door. The queue was a long one, and with the festival sold out, a lot of people would have gone home disappointed – or to Fanny’s Ale House up the road. One thing that always strikes me about the crowd at a festival back home is how ‘normal’ everyone looks. Where I grew up, Real Ale isn’t just the preserve of a few enthusiasts. For many people it’s part of life. Even lager lads will sink a bitter now and then. The über-tickers with their dandruff and their trackpants pulled up to their armpits were (largely) absent from this queue.
Once inside (CAMRA members got a token for free half) we got stuck straight into some real keg: a bitter and smooth (if a tad overcarbonated) Kacour IPA Samurai, a visitor from the Czech Republic. Grand Ridge Bitter from Oz was soapy and sort of ‘veggy’, but drinkable. After that, we stayed cask. Deep and tangy Acorn Bullseye; floral, light and fruity (and hazy) Allendale Wagtail. We found the Liverpool One Maharaja IPA lacked any real hop bite, unlike Summer Wine Gambit which was almost puckeringly bitter. Salamander Garuda was gently hoppy, light and smooth and creamy. All this was to the sound of rockabilly foursome the 309s. Other nights entertainment was from Carl Heslop and the hall’s Wurlitzer organ, which must have been a surreal drinking experience. After pie and peas we wound down with Yorkshire Dales Nappa Scar, which smelt like a farmyard but went down bitter. Last beer of the night we stuck it to bullies Sam Smith by downing a Yorkshire Warrior from Cropton. It was a great end to a disappointing day, on which I failed my 3rd (THIRD) driving test. I thought I might find the streets of Skipton easier than East London. And I did, until I hit the kerb trying to park behind the very same car I’d practised on an hour earlier. Better than my last test though – on that occasion I reversed into a bollard and failed without leaving the test centre car park.
>Firstly – nice write up – I planned to go me'sen but had a scheduling clash – have never had any of Allendale's wares b ut know they are quite highly rated. Secondly – sorry to hear about your test. It took me three goes and I can honestly testify that getting Married was less stressful. Keep plugging away at it matey.
>Thanks Leigh. I'll nail it next time – I intended to rebook the test this afternoon, but my work Mac started billowing smoke! I'm pretty sure it's not meant to do that.
>Oh Lord! LOOK at those pie-and-peas! I can taste them from here…..I never think of the Boathouse or that Tram place as being pubs….only Fanny's counts for me! Did Saltaire Brewery do a 'special' for the occasion? As to the test, I have long had a theory that the place to take it is Bognor….somewhere with a high population of non-driving 80-year olds!
>Hi Affer – Saltaire had three ales on, but we didn't try 'em. They do a beer club at their brewery on every last friday of the month, which is meant to be fan-bloody-tastic. I bet the Bognor theory is valid – it was miles easier in Skipdale! (even though I still failed)
>Had my first taste of Summer Wine beers on Sat when I was up in Macclesfield – very nice they were too.It is Piglet time again this week at the LOSC. Are you going?
>'fraid not, Eddie – as usual work is getting in the way!
>And sorry to hear about the driving test. I failed two tests as a teenager back home but once I'd moved down to London I never bothered again – always allows me to have a drink…