Sunday, 31 January 2010

One of Britain's greatest pubs

I had one of the most memorable days of my drinking life on Friday when I went to the Shoulder of Mutton in Castleford, West Yorkshire. I was in Yorkshire for a beer talk and tasting at The Works in Sowerby Bridge and went to Castleford the following day at the invitation of landlord Dave Parker, known to all and sundry as "Tetley Dave".
Dave is a former Tetley drayman. After a number of run-ins with Enterprise Inns, owners of the Shoulder -- who at one point tried to evict him with 24 hours' notice -- Dave now owns the pub and is his own master. As well as selling vast amounts of Tetley Dark Mild and Bitter, he has beers from many Yorkshire micros. When I arrived in the pub, I was confronted by a pump clip bearing my image. The beer is called Jolly Roger and is brewed by the Great Heck Brewing Co. It's porter-style beer, creamy and luscious,just like me.
The pub,based in a wasteland of former coal mines and potteries,is a great, no-nonsense old boozer. The George Formby Society performs there every Wednesday -- how I would have loved to see them -- but Dave was persuaded to get out hus ukelele and play a few old Formby numbers.
In the course of a few riotous hours I met local TV celebrity Ian Clayton, a local historian, retired miners, workers from Thomas Fawcett's maltings and brewers from Coors of Tadcaster and Sam Smith's. The Coors man told me that Tadcaster alone brews 1.4 million barrels of Carling a year. I've never drunk it -- perhaps I'm missing something (but I suspect not). I also met a woman known as the Beer Monster who claims to have sampled 1,500 beers -- or was it 15,000? -- and Viv Nicholson, the woman who famously won a fortune on the Pools in 1961 -- worth £3 million in today's money -- and blew the lot. She lives in Castleford and drops into the Shoulder on a regular basis where everyone is happy to buy her a gin.
An amazing pub with amazing beer and people and masses of old Tetley memorabilia. If you're ever in the area, don't miss it.


Blogger Johnny Norfolk said...

Good to see you enjoyed a proper pub. Pity there is not a smoking room as i used to enjoy a good cigar with my beer so have to stay at home to enjoy one.

31 January 2010 at 16:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't the Shoulder of Mutton Count Arthur Strong's local too?

31 January 2010 at 18:55  
Blogger Roger Protz said...

Nobody mentioned him to me but it would be a suitable venue for him as the pub is full of amazing characters.

31 January 2010 at 19:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw you in The Works on Look North, it's a good pub.

Did you happen to go to the Puzzle Hall Inn which is a bit further along the road from the Works?

31 January 2010 at 20:22  
Blogger Roger Protz said...

I passed it on my way to the Works and dearly wish I could have gone to see it. But by the time the event at The Works had finished I was ferried to the Alma Inn where I spent the night (fantastic range of Belgian beers) and then went to Castleford the following morning.
Next time...It's a wonderful part of the world. It's good to get away from the soft south and meet genuine people.

1 February 2010 at 09:21  
Blogger ian clayton said...

thank you for these kind words roger. it was a pleasure to see you at this ramshackle old den. it's not like that every friday you know, sometimes it gets even more surreal! and sunday afternoons...well now you're talking! drop us an email when you've a minute. cheers ian clayton

1 February 2010 at 11:00  
Blogger denzil said...

Thank you for your kind words about the Great Heck beer. I'm glad you it. I'm sorry i couldn't join you, I was at the Dave Porter Conference at which you were a guest last year.

The Shoulder is certainly one of the best pubs in existence and if Dave didn't exist you'd have to invent him!

1 February 2010 at 14:00  
Blogger Roger Protz said...

Denzil -- how would you classify the beer? A strong mild or a porter?

Ian, we've spoken this morning by phone. I did try to email you but the message bounced back.

1 February 2010 at 14:58  
Blogger ian clayton said...

sorry roger, gave you an old card. check out my webpages at for my new email. cheers ian clayton

1 February 2010 at 15:24  
Blogger denzil said...

It's a mild more than a porter. It's pretty straightforward really, just malted barley, crystal and chocolate malts and English hops.

The Autovacs at The Shoulder ensure it is served at its very best with a lovely creamy head. Just as we like it in Yorkshire.

Interestingly enough that style of dark beers is very popular in this area, and it's nothing new. There is some local variation but in some towns and villages in these parts it is impossible to sell pale ales. I know of one pub who ended up having to sell off Deauchars at £1.25 a pint to get rid. I've heard people complain when handed a pale beer, "What's this? Lager!?"

We do make pale ales but they are shipped off to glamorous locations such as York, Wakefield, Leeds and Huddersfield where they find and appreciative audience.

1 February 2010 at 19:52  
Blogger Roger Protz said...

That's fascinating, Denzil. Never thought I'd have a mild named after me! There was once a Protz Pils, which some malcontents suggested was short for Pillock.

2 February 2010 at 09:38  
Blogger ian clayton said...

morning roger, i mentioned your visit to barnsley to ian mc he's sorry he can't come he's away that day. he asked me for your email he wants to drop you a line. i don't have it. perhaps you could email me and i'll pas his on to you. cheers ian clayton.

2 February 2010 at 11:34  
Blogger denzil said...

The mild shall inherit the Earth. Or thereabouts ;o)

2 February 2010 at 13:37  

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