One minute you’re walking down Hebden Bridge High Street. You see a sign that says Drink? Sounds interesting, so you walk in. Next thing you know you’re down in the tube station and there’s two blokes stood chatting at the bottom of an escalator? Whoa! slow down man. I know Hebden Bridge might have a bit of reputation for the Bohemian and Bob Hope, but I swear, I only had two pints in the Fox and Goose!
I look around me at the gradely assortment of cans and bottles. It’s strangely, quite busy, but obviously I’ve wandered into the Hebden Bridge bottle shop, a good one too. But hold on, they’ve got glasses. Maybe you can drink in. Can you drink in? Course you can mate. There’s bar through there.
I glance through the archway. Looks like someone has knocked through into the back of the shop and made … a bar. Who’s that? Looks like Martin Ogley to me. Hey up, it’s Martin isn’t it?
Okay, okay, I’ll leave the creative writing bit out, but that’s sort of what it went like when I first went into Drink? Like me, some of you may remember Martin from his time as Head Brewer at Elland. He’s better known these days as the proprietor of Drink? which has been open since April 2015, apart from 6 months in early 2016 when the town flooded and there was 5ft of water in the place.
Martin told me not to run a bar, saying it can take your life over, but added, ‘It’s been a wonderful experience.
I asked him what the best bit was? ‘Choosing the beers. There’s so many places in town with so many different styles of beers that it’s a real challenge to get something different, and good, on the bar’.
I reckon Martin’s doing a pretty good job with his two cask and five keg lines: Summer Wine Zenith and Ashover Brewery Littlemoor Citra on cask at £3.20 each. It was Stodfold Wakatu and Magic Rock Hat Trick on my previous trip through, obviously I had to have the Magic Rock brew that time.
On this occasion I shared a Hawkshead The Wheat Goes On, which was stunning, and a Marble Tuckerlousky with Mrs C. A little bit dearer than the cask beers, but excellent value, nay dirt cheap, at £4 a pint. Looking around they were selling as much keg as cask and a decent amount of cans/bottles to the very mixed clientele who included a sizeable proportion of females and an air of prosperity.
Apart from the impressive full scale underground mural, the rest of the decor is equally cool. Tall tables and stools in the front room, with more laid back comfortable settees upstairs. The toilets are spot on too. Obviously it’s not a pub, it’s more of a bar, but so much more than a micropub, owing to it’s almost metropolitan feel. I wouldn’t have been surprised to step outside and find myself in somewhere like Headingley, Meanwood or Oakwood in Leeds.
Coming from the Fox and Goose and walking into Drink? is a bit of a Yin and Yang experience. I use the Chinese terms as it seems more appropriate for Hebden Bridge than chalk and cheese, but you can get both in the town. It just demonstrates the diversity Hebden Bridge has to offer.
You’d be mad to invest money in a pub in the current climate, but if I was ever tempted to open a bar I would want it to be like Drink?