A Night In The Pub: The Kings Arms, Heath, Wakefield

Kings Arms, Heath, near Wakefield

Kings Arms, Heath, near Wakefield

There’s been a lot of chatter on the blogs (aren’t we bloggers awfully self-referential, it’s dreadful, ain’t it?) about whether the pub is dead, whether it’s dying or whether it’s just got a bit of a sniffle and needs a dose of Calpol. It may shock you to read that I’m not going to answer that question (there is loads of debate on the topic though – try Pencil & Spoon, Real Ale Reviews or The Pub Curmudgeon for just a handful of examples).┬áNope, what I’m going to do is say the following.

I like going to the pub, it’s just about my favourite place to socialise, some of the best moments I’ve shared with my best friends have probably been at The Kings Arms in Heath, our local growing up. I also used to love meeting my granddad for a pre-Sunday dinner pint at one of his locals, I’ve recently spent some very pleasant time with my dad in The Cross Keys in Holbeck and when I meet my girlfriend in town we invariably meet at North Bar or The Reliance (that’s a stalkers’ guide to following me around, there).

So while a lot of my writing about tasty beers I’ve drunk involves beer I’ve drunk at home, that’s not because I prefer drinking at home to drinking at the pub, it’s just because I go to the pub to socialise and if you’re really focussing on the beer, then you’re not socialising, are you?

Anyway, I just wanted to briefly write in praise of my old local, The Kings Arms in Heath. It’s where me and my closest friends always go drinking, it’s where our mums and dads sometimes join us (and it’s all the better when they do).

Is it a great pub? Well, not really. It’s properly historic, and set on gorgeous heath land, and often boasts a roaring fire. It also stocks a few real ales that are normally nice, if not thrilling. Yet it is, with a doubt one of my favourite ever pubs. It’s a place to catch up with friends, to escape the realities of the real world of jobs and bills and regress with people who have known me for two decades, whose humour may often be risque, but always has me in stitches.

The best nights to meet up are Tuesdays. Yes, it’s a school night, but it’s also quiz night. While the cheap nasty free sarnies of old may be gone, and the questions are often, well, a bit shit, it does just what you want. It adds a competitive element to the night, a slight edge, an excitement served up with your pint of Landlord, an inspiration for jokes and anecdotes. Yes, it means a cloudy head on a Wednesday morning, but it’s worth it.

So, is the pub dead? I don’t know, but surely there will always be a demand for places that encourage socialising, encourage reunions of friends and serve it up in a homely, comfortable setting? And if there’s not, then there must be something very wrong in this country. I’ll blame Cameron.

ReetGood Rides the Zeitgeist: Thornbridge’s Halcyon

Thornbridge's Halcyon

Thornbridge's Halcyon

My blog ain’t usually at the forefront for beer related news, or reviews of the newest concoctions, bottles or brewing methods. It’s more just me occasionally rambling about stuff I’ve drunk, when I get round to drinking it.

For example, I’ve not yet reviewed Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch, when every other bugger has. I will drink it some time and review it then, but I’ve not got round to it yet.

But this time I’m writing about a beer only a matter of days since everyone else has. Which is novel. Zak Avery wrote about it here, Real Ale Reviews kind of did it here and HopZine did it here. Others have banged on about it too.

What is it (if you haven’t followed the link yet)? It’s Thornbridge Brewery‘s Halcyon. Why are people writing about it? Well, because 1) it tastes good, 2) it smells good, 3) it has a nice attractive bottle (look at my photo) and 4) it’s quite novel in terms of brewing.

Most beers dry hop (i.e. used dried hops for hop flavour/nose), while Halcyon is hopped with fresh hops (from Mr Capper’s farm, Hertfordshire, no less). This method probably does all kind of smart, chemically things to the beer to make it taste good, the main thing for me though, is that this beer tastes fresh, the hops taste ripe, vibrant and, because I can’t think of a better word, zingy. It’s dry, bitter and also has a long, lurking fruitiness that picks up on about every tropical fruit you could ever desire. Plus a lovely warm, refreshing pineyness.

Which is all very nice.

As Zak pointed out in his lovely video blog, this beer isn’t quite perfect, there’s quite a lot of, erm, “gunk” in it from the hops. But then I’m not a massively discerning individual. The gunk don’t bother me, and I can deal with it for making such a great tasting beer.

Finally, I should mention why I decided to pop this bottle open in such a timely manner. It’s not to be newsworthy, or interesting. It’s because I figured it’d be a lovely bottle of beer and, therefore, a bloody great way to celebrate LEEDS UNITED GETTING PROMOTED TO THE BLOODY CHAMPIONSHIP! HOORAH!

Meanwood Drinking: Ridgeside Brewery & a new pub?

Meanwood Institute, a lovely Meanwood building

Meanwood Institute, a lovely Meanwood building

I’m back. I’ve been quiet for ages. Largely because I’ve been a bit lazy. And I’m going to continue in a relatively lazy fashion by linking to one of my man beery writings for Leeds Guide.

Imagine my excitement when, flicking through the often tedious Yorkshire Evening Post, I spot a story on a new brewery in Leeds. Then, I read on and find out it’s in my hood of Meanwood. Then I read on some more and discover it will be named after the beautiful (it really is beautiful, I’m not just saying it) Meanwood Ridge.

Suffice to say. I was thrilled. So much so that I emailed Simon, the intrepid former engineer behind the brewery, straight away and requested to interview him both for my blog and Leeds Guide. The blog interview is going to wait because there’s no beer to try yet (thus, not as much fun to be had), but we decided to chat with Simon before he opened up and run a story in the magazine.

You can read what he had to say (and my ongoing promotion for Meanwood in the magazine here: Ridgeside Brewery

They have a website too, which is bit bare, but it’s here if you’re interested: The Ridgeside Brewing Company

Meanwood is fast becoming the place to be for beer fans. I was very excited to note than in Meanwood’s swanky new Becketts complex (some apartments and a few empty shop units) Market Town Taverns, the folk behind Arcadia, one of my favourite Headingley pubs, are applying for a license for a new boozer. VERY exciting news for me. MTT’s pubs are always cask ale focussed, with a good array of continental beers (mainly German and Belgian) to boot.

While I’m promoting Meanwood, I’ll also mention that our neighbourhood Italian, Via Verde, is also well good. I wrote about that for Leeds Guide too, just here: Via Verde

Now if only North Bar would open a sister pub up here…