Sair Inn, Linthwaite
There are gastro pubs. There are twee country pubs. There are Fallow & Balled, gussied up boozers. And there’s the Sair Inn. If you can ever find it (at the top of the steepest hill in the Colne Valley) it’s the sort of pub that is rapidly disappearing in the UK. There are no frills. No one has walked round it with a folder of fabric swatches and a mood board; it’s fair to say that legendary landlord Ron Crabtree has, for the last thirty years been more interested in making sure his beer’s up to scratch than following the interior décor zeitgeist. So it’s streaky flagged floors, faded red moquette upholstery, nicotine yellow walls and open fires – well, black Yorkshire ranges actually in two of the three rooms. The last time I walked in, about ten years ago in deep winter, coal smoke sat thickly about a foot from the low ceiling before settling on my lungs.
But the beer is incomparable. Brewed at the back of the pub, at any one time you’ll find around half a dozen Linfit ales on the pumps, including Bitter, Gold Medal, Special, Swift and Old Eli. Gone, sadly, is the incendiary 8.3% Enoch’s Hammer and the Janet Street Porter which I might start a petition to bring back.
You won’t get a sandwich here, let alone a Yorkshire pudding with gravy. There are crisps and nuts. A jar of pickled eggs. That’s it. But what you will get is a fine pint, a grumble from Ron, a nod from the locals and some great music; the juke box is loaded with the most eclectic collection of discs you’ll hear anywhere. But most of all you get a sense of a genuine and loved pub doing what it does best. Go while you still can.