Monday, May 26, 2008

The Hunter's Inn/The Dyneley Arms, Otley, Near Leeds



Life has a funny way of turning full circle at times.
The Hunter’s Inn, in Otley, near Leeds, was the scene of, or rather the cause of, my first real hangover. A real, adult, honest to god, head-throbbing, stomach churning, muscle-tremoring hangover. We were only young, and maybe that made The Hunter’s scarier than it actually was – although in those days it was clearly a Biker’s hangout; the pool table and jukebox were the most important things there - not the bar. Lord, not the bar. If I remember correctly, Newcastle Brown was the tipple of the evening that will forever be scorched into my mind. And forever scorched onto my friend's mum's lawn the next morning.

We drive past it often, and I had recently noticed subtle changes– a Theakston’s sign was up, and a notice telling me that up to 9 rotating cask ales were on offer. It ticked away in my mind, and last month, on the way back from The Leyburn Festival of Food and Drink, we dropped in - quite unsure of what to expect.
I don’t know the two landladies, but they have done a great job. Firstly, the place is way more welcoming, and there are no bikes in the doorway (sorry, bikers – no offence) - but the ales spoke volumes. My heart sank when I saw Rooster’s Yankee available – not only would I have to try it (being one of my all-time faves), but if it was in bad nick then it was game over. I’m outta there.
I lifted the glass to my lips and drank – perfect. A great pint. The bar stocked - to name a few - beers from Kelham Island (more on them later), Roosters, Old Bear, Goose Eye, Marston Moor, Barnsley and Sharp’s...a better choice than you would expect, to say the least. The fire was roaring, people were smiling and laughing – hey, we were in a good pub. Not a bar. A pub.
I’ve not written a pub review in a while, simply because I had nothing to say on the matter. The Hunter’s has improved so much, it’s a little beacon of hope for a time when the pub trade seems to be in a bad way. Put it on your beer map – it’s a worthy destination. There’s also an excellent farm shop next door if you need something for tea on your back home.

Another Otley pub from my youth, The Dyneley Arms, has been reincarnated as a Sam Smith's pub. We dropped in, lured by the prospect of a pint of Smith’s Wheat Beer (which I believe to be greatly underappreciated) and found a much changed pub to the Dyneley of the past. The place is immaculate; and luckily the beer is too. Well kept, honest beer, in a cavernous , suitably rustic setting. My only reservation was a silly one – it all seemed a little too new. I’m used to enjoying my pints of Sovereign Bitter in slightly rougher surroundings. Oh well - I’ll get used to it. Drop by, see what you think.
· But aren’t the beer mats the greatest you have ever seen? You really don’t get them like that anymore. Well done, Sam Smith’s design guy (or Girl).

The Hunter’s Inn - Harrogate Road, Pool in Wharfedale, Otley, West Yorkshire, LS21 2PS, Tel: 01132 841090

The Dyneley Arms - Otley Road, Otley, LS21 1ET Tel: 0113 2842887

3 comments:

Heather said...

I wish my first hangover had been sourced out of a charming West Yorkshire pub. No, mine was on the floor of someone's living room in SE Portland, Oregon, when I thought vodka should be washed down with Taco Bell. /cringe

John said...

I wish you'd said you were going to the Leyburn Festival and we came very close to packing up the tent and popping over there. Nevermind!

Leigh said...

heather - trust me, it wasn't as idyllic as all that...i still can't eat peas to this day!

John - I go every year! Next year, we'll hook up - it was a good day, as usual!