10 April 2016

Wakefield's Black Rock & Beer Exchange

Wakefield Westgate railway station
Most of the Wakefield pubs featured in CAMRA's Good Beer Guide are closed at 2pm on a Monday. However, the Black Rock was open and only a short walk from Wakefield Westgate station, so after leaving the train from Kings Cross, I headed there via Cheapside and Silver Street.

The Black Rock 

The ceramic tiled exterior give the Black Rock a distinctive look and research shows that it was originally a Melbourne Ales (Leeds) public house.
The Wakefield Civic Society blue plaque under the decorative window records that John Potter (1674-1747), a former Archbishop of Canterbury, lived here as a boy in the family home above his father's draper's shop.
On the way to the bar, an engraved CAMRA mirror and a beer board showing six cask ales give a favourable impression.
A half pint of Kelham Island Easy Rider was served through a sparkler, to give a creamy head, for the reasonable charge of £1.30.
From a comfortable seat at the furthest point from the entrance I could survey the main room of the pub, decorated with views of the city and mainly populated with older men. A succession of classic 1960s pop songs playing on the pub's decent sound system appealed to my ears and compensated for the lack of conversation.

Wakefield Beer Exchange


A conveniently placed pedestrian crossing makes it easy to reach Wakefield Beer Exchange on the north side of Bull Ring, opposite the Black Rock.
A  blackboard in the doorway mentions 6 cask ales and keg beers are available at the 'Beer Cafe & Bottle Shop'.
The exterior and interior of Wakefield Beer Exchange and the Black Rock are about as different from each other as it is possible to get! The same probably applies to their respective clienteles although it was quiet here on a Monday afternoon.
A changing exhibit of original art adorns the walls at the Wakefield Beer Exchange. In March prints by Ron Wilson were on display.
My first half pint was Fox Glove by Slightly Foxed (£1.55). The bad news is that the beer is more expensive than at the Black Rock but the good news is that 1/3 pint glasses are available so it is still possible to try the keg beers without major expense.
The beer exchange was quiet so I was able to have a chat with the barman. It was great to discover that Adam was familiar with the End of the Road festival and festival bars operated by The Really Good Bar Co. I hope to meet up with Adam again at the 2016 End of the Road festival.
I persuaded Adam to pose for a photo with a copy of Ullage, the West Berkshire CAMRA branch quarterly magazine which I edit.

Wakefield Beer Exchange is associated with The Revolutions Brewing Co and many of the beers served at the bar have been obtained by beer exchanges with this brewery, hence it's name.
Before leaving to catch a train to Leeds, I enjoyed a third pint of Chinook, Southern Cross and Bravo IPA, a collaboration beer between Northern Alchemy and dAt bAr brewed in Newcastle.
The Google map above shows the position of the two bars. Click on the link to see photos of places passed on the way from Wakefield Westgate station.

I will try and time my next visit to Wakefield for after 4pm when the majority of pubs open. However, an earlier start would give me a welcome opportunity to revisit the Black Rock and Wakefield Beer Exchange!

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