Grayston Unity, Halifax
Overnight, Halifax got cool. Don’t get me wrong. I love Halifax. It’s my adopted home town and you only need to look up over the shop fronts to see stunning architecture, and the folk are warm. But cool it ain’t. So welcome the Grayston Unity, an independent bar in a 19th century building, originally a County Court and tucked away behind the magnificent town hall (designed by Charles Barry after he’d finished the Houses of Parliament).
The frontage is small and not shouty. Inside, the arched ceiling in the bar was originally where the horse drawn coaches came through. Now you’ll find an eclectic mix of décor and vintage furnishings including a ‘front room’ with comfy sofas, a grand chandelier and a life-size pot boxer dog just like Buster in the old John Lewis Christmas ad.
Owner Michael Ainsworth has been a music promoter since the early 80’s and in 2013 he set up the Halifax Heritage Trail which celebrates the frankly surprising musical history of Halifax which includes Dusty Springfield, Joy Division and Michael Jackson. So it’s no surprise that the background music is well chosen; expect the likes of Pink Floyd and Sparklehorse.
But you want to know about the beer. On visit, I found Life & Death from the Cragg Vale brewer Vocation, Barbarossa from Ilkley Brewery, Monkeytown Mild from the Phoenix Brewery in Heywood and Marble Brewery Manchester Bitter. Always on tap is Chinook Blonde from Goose Eye Brewery. There’s a ‘gin of the week’ and the wine list is pretty good too; ten by the glass, plus prosecco, all from the Halifax Wine Company.
There’s no food to speak of, other than a rather fine pork pie, olives, crisps and nuts, but they’re not averse to you bringing your own grub in, as long as it’s not curry. There’s talk of street food coming to the open courtyard at the back from time to time, particularly in the summer. The Unity hosts talks, ‘Grayston Voices’ and there’s live acoustic music in the back room once a month, plus occasional theatre. Well cool, as the young people say.