Huddersfield is a brilliant place to wander round and sample some excellent beers, there’s a wide variety of establishments of which The Grove is an old favourite with it’s unbelievable range of cask, keg and even more bottled beers.
As you walk roughly East/South East out of the town centre and across the busy multi lane ring road (my i-phone map had us walking alongside it at one point which is definitely not recommended, nor possible at the point it tried to take us there!) I wondered who was responsible for constricting the town centre with a peripheral mini motorway, thus ensuring that unless there is a massive leap of faith, finance and geographical features, Huddersfield town centre will remain firmly within.
Any road, The Grove is pretty unprepossessing from without, only the vivid green sign signalling what is to come inside, which is more green. Clearly green is the theme here, that and stuffed wild animals and horns and other quirky embellishments to both walls and ceiling.
Thinking it through, groves (a small wood or thicket) are generally green, and wild animals inhabit green groves, so it all fits very nicely. Only thing was, it felt more American Germanic hunting lodge green than Huddersfield green. I’ve never seen wild boar, moose or warthogs round these parts, apart from on the walls here of course.
There’s two sides to the pub, the lounge is a larger sprawled out series of rooms that eventually leads to a conservatory sort of floor to ceiling window type room with views onto the pleasant outside space. We went in the smaller tap room, also predominantly green, mainly because there was a bloke in the lounge with something on his head which all looked a bit Dr Who. I don’t know whether it was an on-purpose, a for a laugh, or he had a serious medical condition and I shouldn’t be writing this at all? Either way it was both fascinating and repellant at the same time.
The hardest thing in this pub is choosing what to have. My suggestion is to go to the online ‘latest beer board’ and choose from the nineteen cask ales and fourteen keg lines (quality keg, no crap here) before you go and hope whatever you want hasn’t run off before you get there.
In the face of so much choice and also because it is a rarity up here, I went for Harvey’s Dark Mild, I’m not going to reveal the price, can’t remember, not bothered, it just says (expletive) NBSS 4 in my little book. Doesn’t get better than this folks. Mrs C had a Verdant IPA thingy-me-bob which was also very nice and which I didn’t write anything else about neither because we got talking to a nice couple who were sat with us around a large old farmhouse style pine table. (I had another different beer as well, so did Mrs C, I forgot to write them down too, but they were both sublime.)
I’d noticed the lady had a nice camera at the side of her and I’d seen her eyes light up when I got my own camera out and started walking around taking photos. She said she didn’t have the confidence to do that. I told her there was nothing to worry about, Huddersfield folk had stopped believing all that about photographs stealing peoples souls sometime around 1982. I think it was on a Monday?
She was thinking about starting a blog. Her and her partner often went on beery days out around West Yorkshire with their little dog, using a WY Metro Family Day Rover, as we had done. For the uneducated, £12.20 takes you anywhere in the county by bus or train for a full day, you can get on and off as often as you like and it includes two adults, three children and a dog; like the lady in Leeds bus station travel shop will tell you – you don’t have to take any children or a dog!
These people had come from Keighley with their little dog Bruce who was going to head up the blog site. According to the nice tweet she sent me her blog is going live soon, so I wish her well and encourage you to follow them.
Negatives? I didn’t like the glasses, clunky things reminiscent of Carling or Adnams vases and the toilets were only middlin’ at best. I reckon if they got some windows that opened in the gents they would get rid of all that black mould. I have a report on the ladies but as they were part way through a refurb it isn’t appropriate to comment.
Positives? Service was spot on, swift, helpful and knowledgeable. Salty Dog crisps too!
In terms of the beer range I reckon a few people who follow me will be thinking, ‘He’s slated pubs with a massive beer range before?’ Wrong – I’ve slated pubs with a massive beer range where the number of hand pumps exceeded the number of customers and the beer quality was at best average. This is definitely not the case here. The Grove is a sizeable pub and was ‘you can get a seat, but not necessarily where you want to sit’ sort of busy with plenty of folk from all walks of life, but mainly beer drinkers streaming in and out and it’s not yet 3pm.
Clearly they are turning over a serious amount of beer here, or else why can one explain them having a cask of dark mild that’s come all the way from Sussex being in such good condition? And in a town with some excellent licensed premises, it wouldn’t be in the Good Beer Guide unless it was consistently good neither?
The conundrum that may be explained by some complex equation involving the variables of; beer range, beer quality, number of customers and place [where place is an equally complex variant involving place as a concept comprising individual premises and geographical place (inter alia actual town, part of actual town and town’s place within UK)]’ continues.
What was definitely clear in The Grove was the range was exceptional, the quality of the beer I drank was high, the customers numerous and the place is a beer drinkers paradise. On top of my own findings, I have many verbal and written recommendations, over a sustained period, to back this up too.
And, get this, in the West Riding of Yorkshire they don’t use no sparklers neither! Another conundrum, to sparkle or not, North or South, or does it really matter? Me? On balance, I’m ambivalent, but I can feel another complex equation coming on; beer, brewer, personal preference, tribal alliance, time and place?
Verdict: Go to Huddersfield. Go to The Grove.
P.S. Following on from the recent trend of beer bloggers publishing photos of each other – that’s not me at the bar in the gold coloured waistcoat. I did have a waistcoat like that once but it strangely disappeared? If you look closely, the guy isn’t wearing gigs, the ring is too small and on the wrong finger, there’s no bracelets and you’ve never seen me wearing Wranglers. And anyway, I haven’t yet perfected taking photos of myself at the bar from a seat in the corner of the room.