Rat and Ratchet, Huddersfield

Returning to your old hometown is always a strange experience because everything changes. Developments and dereliction changes the whole face of your old stomping ground. Family businesses gobbled up by chains and thriving ends of town suddenly deserted. All my old drinking holes demolished, developed, rebranded or refurbished into oblivion. All except one.

When I first went drinking in Huddersfield in 1992, ale was the norm and every single town centre pub sold cask ales. Back then, the Rat & Ratchet was most noted for an excellent old jukebox and a Frank Zappa “Heavy Shit” poster. Yet as the big breweries switched to stabalised lager and novelty themes, the Rat & Ratchet somehow stood still. As the world around it changed, it became defined as a “real ale pub” simply by doing what it always did. Today they still have that excellent, very old jukebox and the “Heavy Shit” is still there.

I happened to revisit for the first time in four years to find the pub now has a brewery beneath and were having a beer festival celebrating their own beers. I was in a hops mood but managed to find something light, mellow and hoppy each time while still getting a different beer. Having been heavily dissappointed by another pubs own brews recently, it was good to see some quality being brewed down there. Long may the Rat continue. Heres to an IPA there in ten years time

King’s Head, Huddersfield

Huddersfield has become a mecca for rail-riding ale lovers thanks to it’s impressive train station which manages to house two pubs on platform 1.

The two pubs both of offer a ride range of ales but offer two very different experiences. The Head of Steam does food, loud music and is a meeting place. However, the King’s Head (known for quite a few years as the Station Tavern) offers a more traditional pub experience and an oasis of calm. The prices are reasonable and the beer is well kept. They give the local breweries plenty of support but they also seem to get unique beers from furrther affield. There always seems to be something on from a brewery I have never heard of. This was an ale pub long before such things became trendy.

It is also one of those special pubs where you can pop in on your own and feel completely comfortable. More than a few album reviews for this site have been written in the King’s Head while waiting for the train. Long may it continue to be a much-needed dose of sanity.