Taking the train from Bradford to Manchester gives you superb views of Iron Man art at Mytholmroyd, and peerless Calderdale views on the way past more pronounceable small towns.  Only the Sheffield-Manchester line can match it.

The train also gives me the chance to break my journey back at Hebden Bridge.  1.30pm kick-offs at the Etihad mucked up my plans to visit some hobby pubs (1-6pm opening, thanks Saltaire),but I did get to see dusk descending over the Dulwich of the north (If Dulwich had canals, hills and witches).

Sadly not enough time to nip to Heptonstall and back, a great Summer walk.

Despite its size, Hebden can be relied on for a new Beer Guide pub each year.  I’m a big fan of the town, despite the Guardian-reader associations.  I saw Maria McKee in Hebden Trades Club (like the Phoenix Club with microbrews) a few years ago, and they weren’t all wearing silk scarves.  Not all the men, anyway.

Calan’s looks bigger on the outside, inside it’s compact and already packed with folk settled in for a long session.


I really don’t enjoy standing to drink, any more than I enjoy sitting down at home, and that’s the risk in micro-pubs.  If I’d downed a quick pint of the Anarchy Blonde (NBSS 3) at the bar, feigned interest in the pump-clips and then rushed back to catch the 17.15 I’d have filed this with half my indistinguishable micros visited to date (86, since you ask).


But John saw my furtive look for a space, and kindly moved up to give me a proper pub experience.  That’s when I saw The Books;


Unlike the Nottingham micro, this was chronological perfection, albeit missing those rare early editions.  What greater reading matter can you have ?

I didn’t get a chance to look though 1981 Cheshire though, as my pubby interest started a length conversation with John and the couple on the next table.  Grief, they knew their pubs, Merseysider John a seeming expert on the Isle of Man and Wirral, the other couple on the great town of Halifax.  All pub chat mind you, none of that beery nonsense.  I found out there’s a couple more small pubs in Hebden now, and dozens more in Calderdale.  Simon and Duncan will be thrilled.

The folk in Calan’s weren’t your typical Hebden, though to be fair anyone who’s been in the Fox & Goose will know how lazy a stereotype that is. You can’t mark a town down as weird just because it hasn’t got a Starbucks, you know.

I missed a train.  I didn’t mind, this is what pubs are about.  That’s the thing about micros, you can’t be lonely, or alone, in them.

QUIZ TIME – Easy one, how much did the beer cost ?


      1. Weird that the Dutch entries pre-date the Firkin presence. There was still a bar in a small village outside Tilburg selling London Pride in cask a couple of years ago. Also strange that Denmark/Sweden never featured considering how many real ale bars they still have.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I got the 1976 GBG when i was 17 from a second hand bookshop,it is a great read,they slag off whole Counties and even tell you some pubs to avoid in certain places,praise is also heaped onto the good counties and cities that had lots of real ale at the time.


  1. Since it is easy, I will probably be wrong, but I’ll go with 2.70(I do not know where to find the pound symbol when responding, I usually copy and paste).

    I don’t suppose there was any MBCF style objection to the blonde woman on the pump clip or am I wrong?


      1. And after giving it some thought, I apologize for asking on your blog. I would not want to start an awkward conversation where I have no business doing so.


      2. Please don’t apologise Dick. It’s an important topic that needs to be discussed rationally, rather than by short comments that appear to be attacking one individual or another.


      1. Have you been surprised by the number of micros that have opened? It flies in the face of much conventional thinking on why pubs are closing. The smoking ban for example.


  2. Netherlands pubs only featured in the GBG once, in1983. Ten were listed (have posted pic of page on my twitter feed). By the time CAMRA published the 2002 edition of the Good Beer Guide to Belgium and Holland only 2 of those 10 still featured. Ireland came into the Guide in 1982. The Linenhall in Belfast was then the only one in Northern Ireland. Listings for the Republic lasted from


  3. The answer to your question is an obvious No – Hebden Bridge doesn’t have a Sam Smith’s pub 😛

    Incidentally, surely that pumpclip is objectifying lizards 😀


  4. I once helped to get an industrial wheelie bin out of the lock in the second picture down. It took two narrow boats, a stag-do full of engineers and climbers, an old man with a grappling hook and a complicated arrangement of tensioning ropes.

    The previous night we’d been out in Hebden Bridge and found that it was just too bloody pleasant for a proper stag do. I think we’d mostly been in the Fox and Goose.


  5. Dave, I suspect that some of this micropubs will not last but there are a number of factors behind their growth, I think.
    Firstly my experience locally suggests that there are many couples who would like to go for a drink in their local town centre but do not like the ubiquitous chain pubs or old school boozers which are very male oriented. Effectively the woman in the partnership is happy to go to a small friendly bar amongst like minded people with no music or electronics.
    Secondly some new / small breweries have seen the opportunity to showcase their own beers .
    Thirdly micropubs pay little or no business rates and some will be VAT free.
    Fourthly they can offer whatever products they want and can negotiate buying prices.
    Fifthly they do not sell food and therefore are not faced with the fixed costs associated with a food offer. is worth a look as an informal trade body for micros and a (partial) directory of new sites.
    How long before a guide to micros is published I wonder?


    1. That’s the best analysis of the appeal of micropubs I’ve seen.

      Plenty of middle-aged women in micros (not a criticism, I live with one. They often sell good wines as well as beers, and feel very cosy. You’ll often see couples for a drink in them.

      A paper Guide would be good but would be very quickly outdated, I guess.


    2. Very interesting. I have spent time on the micro pub website. Several of these ideas I have not seen though. Some of these it seems an inventive pub owner could also do. Not sure on the tax piece. Two are quite interesting. Can a traditional pub create a different more appealing atmosphere for women? I would think a pub could accomplish this over time. The food piece idea also is of note. I was always under the impression serving food was considered the lifeline for pubs to survive. Interesting that being free of it is a benefit here.

      Thanks for the comments.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Sorry to disagree with you again,
      But my wife who is just over 50 years old hates micro pubs,i have took her to a couple in the Nottingham area and will never do it again,one in the middle of Nottingham really got to her and we had to drink up quickly and go to the Three Crowns which was packed and had everything we like about pubs,TVs showing football,background music and a good lively atmosphere.
      I will continue to do them but i am now having my doubts about them,they all seem a bit alike after doing over 40 of them,i prefer the ones with a proper bar and hate the ones without,but i am now think i prefer a Wetherspoons over them,if you want to hide in a corner you usually can,not that we do when in them.


      1. It’s just a difference in preference Alan. I think you and your wife share views about micropubs with Simon (BRAPA) and myself. I like a pub to have Carling drinkers, pool, and a bit of life.

        The odd micro is fine, that one in Hebden had lovely pubby people, but I don’t want to talk or hear about beer all the time. And they can very similar.


  6. I completely agree with that comment Martin.
    The same goes for some of the top real ale pubs,the Grove Huddersfield comes to mind,everybody talking about this beer or that beer,i always think get a life and vary your conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I recall the Netherlands gbg entries. Went to Locus Publicus in Rotterdam a couple of times, and recall a darts session with the locals in a Utrecht bar. As we had specifically gone there I assume it was King Arthur’s. (I probably have the actual dates filed away somewhere).

    Liked by 1 person

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