Why Huddersfield is the best place in Britain for real ale and craft beers

Article courtesy of The Huddersfield Daily Examiner

If you've blinked you may have missed the fact that Huddersfield has become Britain's epicentre of the real ale and craft beer revolution. A subculture that's taken on new life in recent years, those in the know have begun to turn their back on mainstream lager brands, with local brewery's fast becoming the fashionable choice - and Huddersfield is leading the way.

So it is now easy enough to head out of an evening and spend the majority of your time drinking beer that was brewed within the town's boundaries and without having to order the same pint twice. 

It is therefore clear that Huddersfield is host to Britain's best real ale trail - and we're only happy to help you discover some of the brews on offer.

1) Magic Rock Brewing Co.

Location: Birkby

About: Magic Rock was only established in 2011, but has fast become one of the leading lights in West Yorkshire's ever expanding real ale scene. Not shy in sighting the growth of craft beer in the US as an inspiration, they moved to their current sight in Birkby in 2015, doubling the size of their operation. One of the more experimental brewers around, don't be shocked to see them dabble with giving their beers a fruity edge, with grapefruit and orange prominent in many of their most popular offerings. A flavour first operation, they call their beer "magically removed from the mundane" due to their unique approach to the craft, and with a staff that's swelled to over thirty, they don't appear to be going anywhere fast.

Best Pint: While their High Wire Grapefruit is a fantastic twist on a theme, their real star is the Cannonball IPA, which packs a real punch at 7.4% thanks to its richness in hops. The market for Indian Pale Ale's has exploded, and this brew is right up there, even if you're just dabbling with a can.

Where: The Grove Pub is located just on the outskirts of Huddersfield town centre, only a stone's throw away from the leisure centre. With a whole host of cask and keg lines available, there's no danger of you running out of things to choose from. No stranger to live music either, there's usually some live entertainment on hand if you time your visit right.

2) Mallinsons Brewing Company

Location: Lockwood

About: Founded in 2008, a lot has been achieved by Mallinsons in their near decade of existence. Home to a whole host of well loved beers, their success led to the opening of a dedicated taproom in 2016, with The Corner springing up in the town centre to much acclaim. Boasting a great reputation for "crisp and clean" flavours, they're usually in stock of a wide range of single hopped beers, as well as more experimental and limited runs in one-off brews that allows them to try their arm at different combinations of flavour. A proud Huddersfield brand, their company logo pays homage to Castle Hill, so there's definitely no mistaking where they're from.

Best Pint: A relatively new member of their single hop collection, the Huell Melon is a pale ale with a difference. With what Mallinsons describe as "subtle honeydew notes" and "fruity cantaloupe bitterness", there's an awful lot of flavour to contend with, and something new to notice with every sup. Relatively light at 4.2%, there's no reason why you couldn't comfortably have a pint or two in one sitting.

Where: The King's Head is a local institution, benefiting from being perfectly situated right next door to the train station, so there's no excuse in not being able to find it. Having recently undergone a full refurbishment, the site has never looked better, and the updated bar is well stocked and updated with plenty to keep you busy besides what Mallinsons has to offer.

3) Beer Ink Brewing Company

Location: Lindley

About: Having been around for little over a year, it's been a whirlwind of a time for Beer Ink, who emerged from the ashes of the old Hand Drawn Monkey company after they were unfortunately forced out of business. With a solid line of core ales and its own on-site taproom, they take their inspiration from America and Australia, without trading in their local values. Brewing for cask, keg and bottle, there's no limit on where the company could go given time, so getting in now before the brand becomes as well known will likely be a local source of pride down the line.

Best Pint: With a good bitter as part of their core selection, the Avant Garde is as good a place to start as any. Served by either cask or bottle depending where you get it, it's built on a base of traditional English malt, but with a twist of "floral and fruity" flavours thanks to New World hops.

Where: Hidden away down a backstreet within walking distance of both the bus and train station, Wood Street has become a real secluded treasure in Huddersfield, and well worth taking the time to find. Prioritising local brewers and and live music, there's also pizza on hand just waiting to be washed down with something hoppy.

4) The Bridge

Location: Holmbridge

About: Boasting a bar, brasserie and brewery, there's not much that's unavailable at The Bridge, who've been making a real name for themselves of late. A destination pub thanks to the food on offer, they've added to their repertoire of accolades by being featured in the 2016 Good Beer Guide, among only 147 other Yorkshire-based breweries. A gastro-pub of the highest order, there's plenty of views to be had from the establishment if you're lucky enough to find it on a good day, otherwise there's nothing much wrong with pulling up a pew on the inside.

Best Pint: While there's a great bitter option and an American Pale Ale that's been highly praised, their Vanilla Stout is a real standout at 5.2%, bringing a fresh interpretation to an old classic. With a refreshing vanilla aftertaste, it's good to enjoy by either pint or by half, depending on how much you fancy.

Where: No better place to enjoy their product than on-site in The Bridge, the Vanilla Stout is available on cask, and is all the nicer for it. Rarely do you get to enjoy a beer that's been crafted on sight, but novelty aside, this is still a fine product to enjoy, and perfect for the summer months.

5) Empire Brewing

Location: Slaithwaite

About: A picturesque micro-brewery in the hills of Slaithwaite, the good people of Empire have been crafting their range of beer for over a decade now. A multiple award winner, they've recently acquired a bottling plant, which will help them spread their produce further afield than was previously possible. With a shop on site and cask's flying out to pubs across the region, Empire may well have to consider yet another expansion if things are to carry on in such impressive fashion.

Best Pint: Both for name and taste, Empire is known best for Strikes Back, their first ever beer and a timeless US Hopped Ale, which was also given the honour of being the company's landmark 1000th brew. A lighter offering at 4%, it's a good opportunity to have a couple without feeling worse for wear as a result.

Where: There's nothing wrong with a traditional old pub, and The Commercial in Slaithwaite is a great example of why. In a location that doesn't draw the largest of crowds, the pub rarely ever empty, either, and has a good, welcoming atmosphere as a result. With a decent garden and showing all the sport, it's perfect to sit in for a few hours of an evening or just to pass through on a Sunday while taking the dog for a walk.

6) Three Fiends

 

About: Started by three friends brewing at home in 2014, they went from kitchen to garage before deciding on making their operation a business, which is where the move to Brookefield Farm came in. Winners of a Gold Award within their first year, Three Fiends have gone from strength to strength since, with their bottles becoming ever more popular by the day. Although now supplying throughout the UK, they haven't forgotten their roots, with plenty of focus still on getting the Yorkshire market accustomed to their beers.

Best Pint: Their signature beer for good reason, the Little Devil West Coast Pale Ale is an easy drinking American Pale Ale, brewed with a blend of English and American hops. A fairly heavy hitter at 5.3%, it's as fruity as it is hoppy, bringing a welcome twist on a beer that's coming right back in to prominence.

Where: A relatively new face in Honley, the people behind Punch Bar and Tapas have made it a go-to destination, with its reputation for being a family friendly night out helping it reach its desired clientele. Serving plenty of tapas, their drinks menu includes an impressive array of craft beers and cocktails, helping to widen their already significant appeal.



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