Beer Blog

Nightjar, Hebden Bridge


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.


12 replies »

  1. I very much doubt if having that last picture so large will help your readership figures but it would do for a caption competition.
    Forty years ago it wasn’t about “splitting hairs”. It was about “the Big Six companies to be taken into public ownership preventing further brewery closures, considering opening closed breweries and the reintroduction of real ales” not that that was my motion.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, plenty of “time and enthusiasm“ as for thirty years, from the mid ‘seventies to mid noughties, I chose to put more effort into CAMRA than my career but I understand Luke and many others and were I not a life member would probably not renew now and, having not used 2018s, the 2019 Good Beer Guide will probably be the first one I’ve not bought.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I get what you are saying Paul and maybe the original battle is won, but CAMRA needs to keep going forward. There will be new battles to fight, primarily, I believe, against the current homogenisers like Marstons PLC. There is no need to wage war against others who aren’t so precious about how their beer is presented, yet who are passionate about quality and the experience.


  3. “Homogenisers like Marstons PLC” – but what about AB InBev, Molson Coors, Carlsberg and Heineken ?
    CAMRA has always been about choice and I’ve not known anyone wanting to “wage war” against a beer they personally don’t like.
    Preferring beer that’s not over gassed, over hopped or overpriced isn’t the same as being “precious about how their beer is presented”.


    • I think the multi nationals you refer to make no secret of what they are doing. On the other hand I think Marstons do things by stealth. Yes, they may not have outwardly changed much at the breweries they have bought, but where are they buying their grains? From local (to the brewery) suppliers, or on the national/global market. I don’t like my beer over gassed neither, but I still see antagonism between CAMRA die hards and Craft Beer fans – we shouldn’t be seeing this.


  4. The multi-nationals are secretive about where their foreign named lagers are brewed.
    Other than those brewers that happen to be in main cereal growing belt of England virtually all British brewers, from micro to multinational, buy their malt nationally – and hops now might be from anywhere, even the other side of the world !
    Yes, antagonism between CAMRA “die hards” and Craft Beer fans is wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

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