Dozens of tributes have been paid to one of Yorkshire’s best-known brewers and landlords, Ron Crabtree of the Sair Inn, Linthwaite, who died on Sunday.
He had battled throat cancer in recent years and died at the pub.
Father-of-two Ron, 79, set up West Riding Brewery, Huddersfield’s first microbrewery, more than 30 years ago in the old Ralph Wood textile mill, off Bradley Mills Road, with fellow CAMRA members Ken Williamson, Mike Field, Jim Turney and Dave Jessop.
But it was his purchase of 't’Sair’ a 19th century brewpub, in 1982 which really turned him into a local legend amongst Huddersfield’s real ale drinkers.
In an adjoining outhouse he began brewing classic ales such as Old Eli, Linfit Bitter and Enoch’s Hammer which quickly gained a devoted following.
It wasn’t just his brewing skills though that made him such a memorable part of the real ale scene. A genuine character he created a quirky pub in his own image which attracted punters from far and wide.
Dave Jessop said: “Ron did so much in setting up West Riding Brewery, with his vast engineering background. He was able to create all the brewing vessels required by converting old dyeing vessels.
“His sense of humour was something else, as was his love of brewing beer, and our West Riding heritage and traditions.
“I, like many hundreds more, will miss Ron and I do so hope that the Sair Inn will continue as a brilliant pub known locally and nationally for the beers brewed there, and for having a great landlord and character in charge.”
Others who took to Facebook to pay tribute were Allison Maclean who wrote: “Yes loved him, the beer and the pub. Such a sad loss. RIP Ron we all loved you” while Natalie Ratcliffe wrote: “Ron was a really unique individual.
“I worked for him for 10 years. He recycled everything. He used both sides of the till roll, for the cash register.
“He even drank the spillage at the end of the night. I have so many fond memories of the pub. He once made an axle for his van out of wood. My son called the pub Ron’s House.”
And there was more from Charlotte Jane Schoolar, who wrote on Facebook: “Stubborn as a mule but such a lovely bloke.
“Nights at Ron’s house (or the Pig House as my eldest fondly named it!) won’t be quite the same. Many great memories though.”
Neil Hill added: “Ron has gone. RIP Legend. Remember trying to get free beer by drinking five pints of Enoch’s Hammer as a 16-year-old, (I mean 18), with a few schoolmates in 1984.
“I think we managed three before staggering out of the place!”
Sarah Chatterly said: “Sad, sad news. A unique and wonderful character and never afraid to speak his mind. I am gutted.
“Knew the day was coming as he was getting frailer and frailer but it still doesn’t prepare you.
“RIP, sir, and thank you again for your years of hospitality.”
And Kate Stanley said: “Good old Ron. He was pootling about in his car right until the week he died. One of life’s gentlemen.”
Martin Peel added: “So sorry to hear that a great man has passed away. Had a few beers with him in the early days.”
Mark Pritchard summed up very simply saying: “Was the best pub in Britain and Ron was a true character.”