Pub Review: The Rose and Crown, Thurstonland
IT’S not every day you get the chance to taste Monkey Pooh, but this singular pleasure came my way during a recent visit to the Rose and Crown at Thurstonland.
“Where?” I hear you ask, perhaps wondering if Taverner has finally stepped out of the back of the wardrobe and into his own personal Narnia. It’s a fair question, not least because when we set out, I thought Thurstonland was somewhere between Huddersfield and Dewsbury, though it’s a little further south and west than that, high in some chilly, hilly hinterland where the Pennines meet the Peaks.
It’s a beautiful part of the world, and ramblers make up a sizeable portion of the Rose and Crown’s trade, though there are those drawn, like us, simply by its reputation for great food and beer.
Licensee Richard Billington is also the brains behind the Brass Monkey brewery at Sowerby Bridge and products with appropriately simian names predominate along the bar. Which is how I came to be drinking Monkey Pooh, which is flavoured with honey thankfully, rather than something more unsavoury. The label features an ape masquerading as AA Milne’s famous bear, which makes for a curious juxtaposition, though this pale beer, with it’s refreshing qualities and dry, bitter finish, makes for a great start to our evening out.
I follow it up with the darker, richer and less dry Tamarind Mild, which has some attractive licorice qualities to it too. On the strength of these two, Brass Monkey beers are well worth checking out, and Richard tells me that they are regulars on the bar at Leeds pubs such as the Reliance, Arcadia and Whitelocks, and the Fleece at Pudsey.
In the meantime we have been served with our starters from the pub’s evening menu, which offers a fixed-price dinner of two courses for £10.95. The chef bucks the inexplicable pub food trend of serving lots of pate with too little bread, by pairing my wife’s really rich, rough textured chicken liver pate with lots of brown crusty bread. Enough anyway for me to try some, which is the main thing, obviously.
I was intrigued by the combination of king prawns and black pudding, but the strange mix of textures and flavours worked well, served with a crisp salad a sharp mustard mayonnaise.
For her main course, my wife had opted for the sizeable gammon steak, with chips and egg, while I went for the moules frites, a generously deep bowl of steaming curried mussels served with some chunky chips. I couldn’t finish them all: “Is there anyone who eats that many mussels?”
I asked Richard. “Well, me actually,” he replied, slightly sheepishly.
As well as making sure his own brewery is well represented on the bar, Richard brings in guest beers from all over. The beams which cross the main seating area are proudly studded with the beer mats and pumpclips of some of the many ales which have featured in the past. Bateman’s Rosey Nosey and Leatherbritches Bad Boy were just a couple which caught my eye.
Similarly, along the back of the crimson banquette which stretches around the walls, maximising the seating space, a long line of interesting whisky boxes betrays someone’s love of the hard stuff. From Scapa to Knockando, they’re all here.
Richard also runs the Golden Cock, a couple of miles down the road at Farnley Tyas, and on the weekend of July 22-24 the two are getting together for the annual Thurstyfest – a celebration of real ale, food and live music. The enterprising Richard even lays on a shuttle bus to ferry punters from one pub to the other.
For the most part, though, The Rose and Crown is a traditional village inn, offering food and drink to the locals and those from further afield. Kids, dogs and walkers are all welcome; three bedrooms make it a seriously good proposition for a bed and breakfast night away.
We were sorely tempted, but the pull of our real lives drew us back to the car. It was a day or two away from the summer solstice, and though after 10, still light enough to appreciate the beauty of this green corner of God’s Own County as we set out on the long journey home.
email: [email protected]
Name: The Rose and Crown
Type: Lively locals’ food and ale house
Licensee: Richard Billington
Opening Hours: 5.30-11pm Mon, noon-11pm Tues-Thurs and Sun, noon-midnight Fri-Sat
Beers: Choice of Brass Monkey beers (£2.80), Tetley Bitter (£2.90), Bradfield Farmer’s Blonde (£2.95), John Smith Smooth (£2.90) plus rotating guest ales. Grolsch (£4), Carling (£3.20), Strongbow, (£3.20), Guinness (£3.30)
Wine: Plenty of choice from £2.25-glass and £11.95-bottle
Food: Good choice of pub meals
Disabled: No special facilities
Entertainment: Live music every second weekend
Accommodation: Three ensuite bedrooms. £60 a room for bed and breakfast.
Beer Garden: None
Parking: Very small car park, but on-street parking in the village
Telephone: 01484 660790
Beer of the week
Every now and again a beer comes along that redefines the brewer’s art.
Pale, bitter Jaipur is one such beer, and has won a string of national and international awards both in cask and bottle. Even its new keg version has made its mark, picking up a Champion Beer of 2011 prize at the Brewing Industry International Awards – widely dubbed the ‘Brewing Oscars’.
It hails from the highly-regarded Thornbridge Brewery in Derbyshire, whose grounds are adorned by a statue of Flora, Goddess of Flowers, who features on the bottle’s eye-catching golden label.
Prising off the cap is to release a torrent of zesty, passion fruity-flavours; pouring the beer reveals its golden, slightly cloudy, colouring.
But magical things happen when this beer hits the palate. You expect an India Pale Ale to be bitter, it sort of goes with the territory, but this 5.9 per cent ABV beer takes it to a new dimension of full-on, dry, strident hoppiness, which continues into a long bitter aftertaste.