20 : Henry Boons, Wakefield

130, Westgate, Wakefield WF2 9SR

Before the introduction of microbreweries, brewery taps (pubs physically attached to breweries) used to be rare, atmospheric, aromatic and very collectable. Some 40 years ago I decided to write a book about brewery taps, but it was one of the many books I never got around to writing. Too late, too late : breweries began to disappear taking their taps with them. Then came the microbreweries (breweries attached to pubs rather than pubs attached to breweries) but they do not have the same atmosphere.

Henry Boon's on Westgate, Wakefield is one of those rare beasts : a functioning brewery tap. The brewery is H.B. Clark's Brewery which, for a time in the 60s and 70s, stopped brewing but is now producing a respectable range of beers. The brewery was established in 1906 by Henry Boon Clark (hence the name of the pub) and it is a fairly typical early twentieth century brewery building. On a brewing day the aroma of malted hops drifts around the local streets - which must be as near to torture as you can get to the inmates of the neighbouring Wakefield Prison.

Inside, the pub has been fitted to match its function. Wooden planks create half hidden false ceilings on top of which sacks of hops and grain are stored (OK, I know they are probably empty, but they look good). Other bits of bewerama have been Incorporated into the decor creating an atmosphere which is endearingly kitsch. You probably need a knowledge of brewery history to fully appreciate it all, but it is fun trying to guess what all the bits and pieces are (what, for example, are those brass fire screen things built into the bar front?). It is the kind of place you will either love or hate, but if you hate it you are more than likely taking yourself, and life, a little too seriously.

Being lunchtime I chose a pint of Clark's Classic Blonde (3.9 ABV) which was clean, fresh and biting (like a Leonard Cohen song). There were other Clark beers on offer as well as a range of other beers and lagers. It's a grand spot to while away an hour, sipping beer and reading a good book. If you don't have time for such things - well, shame on you.

No comments: