We're staying in the UK for this week's guest blog. Ten Inch Wheels chronicles life in London from the perspective of a Yorkshireman and goes beyond being a blog just about beer. It is always a good read, and his photos are excellent as well, so I heartily recommend reading more of his posts, once you have read the one below of course!
You're home. As you walk up the slope from the station platform, an inch of snow crunches underfoot. The Pennine air is fresh and frigid, biting your face. Snowflakes hang in the streetlights. You turn left onto East Parade, the pub windows glowing a hundred yards away. Through the doors and the heat from the coal fire wraps round you like a blanket. A nod from one of the regulars. 'Yes, love?' from the barmaid.
Locals aren't always local. Mine's about 230 miles, give or take, from where I live - but The Boltmakers Arms in my home town of Keighley is my 'local'. You'll have heard of Keighley because of Timothy Taylor. Taylor's is - but me no buts - the greatest brewery on earth, and the Bolts (as it is universally known) is their de-facto brewery tap. It's a tiny pub - really a converted cottage - and almost always busy. Some nights it can be so packed it's difficult to get your pint to your mouth. If you're lucky you can snag a seat by the open fire. It doesn't matter if you're on your own. This is Yorkshire. If you haven't got your nose in the paper, someone will want to chat.
I've known the Bolts a long time. When I first started going in, it had been run for years by Eric French. Kept a good pint, did Eric. His main punters came from the printworks over the road and the mill round the back. Both long gone. I think I was the only one who liked the decor as it was back then; a palimpsest of decades of Taylor's ad hoc makeovers - Red vinyl benches, formica tables and Bakelite lampshades. When Eric retired The Bolts had a couple of wilderness years and a refit before the current guv'nor Phil Booth took over. The Taylor's pumps are front and centre on the bar. You'll never find a better pint of Landord. No, really you won't. I've looked. Phil pours a pint of Taylor's flagship brew to such forensic perfection it can make a returning native weep.
The Bolts is one of about five Taylor pubs in the town centre. They're all good, but there's something very special about the Bolts. Something you can't quite define that makes it all just right. Maybe it's the easy bonhomie between the generations - the flat cap chatting with the baseball cap. That fire, or even the size of the place which helps you feel as comfortable as you would in your own living room. Ultimately at all comes down to it being a classic town pub that happens to serve extraordinarily good beer. And you can't ask for much more than that.