I thought I might start with, ‘I was slightly foxed when I returned to Nightjar?’ On second thoughts, sounds a bit cheesy doesn’t it? Well, it does if you’ve followed developments at this excellent little bar which nestles up to the side of the steps of the Hebden Bridge Picture House.
When I first visited it was the de facto Brewery Tap for Slightly Foxed, a locale brewery who brewed, unremarkable, decent solid beers. What was remarkable on my first visit was the fact they only had two of their own beers on and the very interesting selection of keg beers from the likes of: Wild Beer, Box Social, Buxton and Siren with Dugges.
When I visited recently, there weren’t any Slightly Foxed beers OTB because I’d heard they had ‘re-branded’ and become Nightjar Brew Co. Sadly there weren’t the same selection of cutting independent modern breweries on the tap list neither.
I don’t have the full facts, but from what I can see, Nightjar Brew Co. is the same people, same brewery, same cute little bar, but with a total repositioning of ethos. Gone are the solid traditional brews and in are the more progressive sounding styles some may refer to as more craft beerish? I think I can see what they’ve done, and can probably understand why they’ve done it, but I don’t want to speculate unduly. Maybe someone from the brewery will get in touch and invite me over for a chat?
There were three Nightjar Brew Co. cask beers on at a decently priced £3 a pint: Haka, Kalifornia and Picture House Pale. I went for their keg Supernova, a 6.0% stout at £5.40 a pint and thoroughly enjoyed my half of the dark creamy chocolatey, coffeeish, milk stout.
There was another Nightjar keg beer Knievel, and Complete History from Wild Weather Ales, which Mrs C had. I said I wouldn’t speculate, but the board sort of told it’s own story, and I can’t fault them neither.
I was pleasantly surprised to see more than a few of the assembled CAMRA members going for the keg beers. That didn’t extend to the two veteran stalwarts sat at our table; Paul ‘I reckon you must have had a letter published in every edition of What’s Brewing’ Mudge from Stafford and Peter ‘I send letters in, but they never publish mine’ Judge from Raistrick.
I listened to them discussing resolutions and amendments they may, or may not have submitted, voted for, or disagreed with, to CAMRA AGM’s over the many years they’ve attended members weekends; to be fair the time and enthusiasm they have put into campaigning over the years is very commendable.
It was quite an engaging discussion though and I turned and asked Luke, a passionate beer and pubs man, who’d accompanied us, after reading about the trip on the Beer and Pubs Forum, if he was a CAMRA member? He glanced at Paul and Peter, shook his head, looked me in the eye and said, ‘I’m not into splitting hairs Rich.’
I like the ambience of Nightjar; intimate, friendly, decent beers The single, mixed sexes, toilet is worth a mention, not only is it spotlessly clean and well equipped, it’s even got an Ermintrude bog seat.
The only real downside to Nightjar is that it’s not very large, which sort of led to a discussion about what exactly it was. A micropub? No definitely not, in fact it’s not pub at all, although it is closed on Monday. A craft beer bar? Maybe, but they’ve got decent cask ale on as well. So it’s just a bar, a nice bar with a really cool logo, which is sort of like a birds wing depicted in southern hemisphere tribal art style.
Verdict: If I lived in Hebden Bridge I’d be a regular visitor to this place. Reinforces the notion that Hebden Bridge offers something for everyone, whatever your taste in beer or premises.