The Society for The Preservation of Beers from the Wood
Northern Ireland Branch
The local branch are normally to be found most Friday nights in the Bridge Bar, Belfast. Most of the staff are aware of us and can point us out, although it has to be said that new staff may be there on the night.
It is best to get in touch beforehand and arrange to meet us, wherever we are. If you are happy to do so, we can keep you informed with a text to your mobile.
Meet The Brewer
Salty Dog Hotel
Leeds, Coopers & Beers From The wood.
An overcast but warm Wednesday took us from Belfast into Leeds Bradford airport and a bus journey into Leeds and our hotel at the Armories. It was good to dump the bags and go for a walk, ending up in a local cask ale house and a late lunch. After relaxing in the hotel we wandered around that end of the town and found a couple more cask ale pubs, Including the Duck & Drake just up the road, famed for its range of cask ales and as a music venue.
We had a long day so decided to get back and make an early start. Not one for a large breakfast myself, I stoked uo well for the journey at the everlasting, it seemed, buffet before a short walk to the bus station and the bus to Wetherby. We were given a bum steer by the driver as we could have got off very close to the industrial park. Never mind, Alastair kindly picked us up in the van. He is headquartered in an old military base and has plenty of room for work. It was fantastic to be shown around, the smell of fresh cut wood, and a special deomstration for me of how to set up, shape and enter a barrel head. Ian was working on a wooden seat and Kean, Alastair's apprentice, made us a lovely cup of tea. Later on We had a few bottles of Copperhead before Kean took us back for our bus. A not so succesful steak at a loal Nicholson's pub, but the manager was kind enough to refund us and give us a free pint.
A couple of pints elsewhere and back to rest up for the morrow. Friday was another excellent breakfast and a walk round the area. We found a river taxi next door to take us to the train station and city centtre. It only took five minutes and was free, due to some council idea. The guys on the boat were great. We made back to the bus station and off to Castleford, enjoyinh the scenery, to meet up with Neil at the Junction - famous for having several casks on, each of which is purely from the wood. Neil gave me a guided tour of the cellers. So many wooden barrels conditioning out, a sight for sore eyes.
We took a break from ssampling to wander round the town and stop at the local Wetherspoon's pub for a much nicer steak and just plain old cask. After that it was a short walk back to the Junction to finish of the tasting. We decided to get the train back and hence the river taxi.
The exhausting bit was meeting up with the local lads as they were keen to make sure we saw the better pubs in the area, some of which were new to me. We bypassed any Brewdog pubs due to the high cost of their beers. Andy WHitly has always been an excellent guide and tour organiser for the local CAMRA/SPBW groups and a good friend. Schenker (who has supplied SPBW with some hand crafted items) let me have a lovely pewter SPBW neck piece. Hopefully we will have some of his work on sale in the online shop. We met up with Algy (Steve) and had a really great catch-up chat as we have not met in a few years. He was good enough to give SPBW members a 15% discount on his online business LINK. We went to visit a small start-up brewery in a small industrial complex in the back streets (group picture: Andy, Algy, Schenker - Andy hates being pictured), then continued our pub crawl.
A weekend away to Castle Douglas and a visit to Sulwath Brewery to meet old friends father and son owner/brewers, Jim and Alan Henderson. The brewery tap closes at 5pm on the friday so the plan was to journey on the Thursday, stay overnight in the town and have a decent and relaxed breakfast before meet up with the guys. It was a fantastic day, catching up with news of friends and listening to the banter. The tap room was not filled but it had a constant and changing clientele, all of whom were very friendly. A couple of really excellent Scotch pies from a local butcher (Called Henderson as well) filled a gap. That and a wonderful evening meal back at the hotel, washed down with some good Deauchars IPA.
On the way home I picked up two 5 litre mini pins of cask Criffel and cask Galloway Gold. They certainly went well with fresh home grown salad stuff during the week.