Yesterday I got involved in a game of Pub Snap with my friend Jennyfreckles over at Salt & Light and she won by coming up with a pub called the Green Lion in Rainham, Kent. I told her she couldn't get maximum points if she had not been and drunk a pint there. I thought I might counter today with the latest in my monthly theme of Occupational Pubs : the Boltmakers' Arms in Keighley. As this is in Jenny's neck of the woods, she should be able claim points for having visited the pub. As for me, I can claim full points because I have visited the pub and, as the notes I took at the time suggest, thoroughly enjoyed a pint there. The following piece was first published on Great Yorkshire pubs some two and a half years ago. I make no apologies for repeating it here : after all the next best thing to a good pint of bitter is another good pint of bitter.
I was in Keighley tracking down long-dead family and long fragmented churches when I called in at the Boltmakers Arms for a lunchtime pint. The Boltmakers - a Timothy Taylor house within spitting distance of the brewery - is the kind of pub you dream about when you are a long way from home. Small, cozy, warm, welcoming : it is everything that a pub should be with a little bit extra added just to make you happy. You don't feel lost when you go in there nor do you feel compelled to order a three course dinner and a bottle of wine. The pictures on the wall have been chosen by the Landlord because he likes them and not because they fit into a preconceived theme thought up by a Pubco's marketing team. If you want to chat to the guy behind the bar you can, but if you want to sit and read a book in a little haven of peace and tranquility there is nothing to stop you. The architecture is not brilliant and the decor is unspectacular - but on Wednesday lunchtime I had difficulty thinking of anywhere else I would rather be in the whole wide world.
It is a Timothy Taylor house and they had the full range of hand-pull beers available. I tried something called Boltmakers Best Bitter (4% ABV) which, for all I knew, could have been brewed in the upstairs back bedroom. It was fresh and clean and for whatever reason put me in mind of a bolt been driven through a sheet metal plate in one of the long-lost dockyards of the River Clyde. I know it is a daft comparison by by this time I was getting maudlin. How long will such a place stay open? Will it be there fore my son to drink in? Probably. Will it be there for my grandson? Probably not.
What a shame, what an undiluted crime - this thing that is happening to the traditional British pub. What a loss, what a bloody, stupid waste. It was one of those days. It was one of those pubs. The Landlord looked at me as I drained my pint and left, wondering why I was crying.