Brew A Beer for Leeds with Leeds Brewery

Ok, so it was only hours ago that I apologised for being rubbish and not posting anything, but I’m posting something now.

The plight of Leeds’ Tetley Brewery is something I’ve covered before here, and unfortunately Greg Mulholland MP’s strong words and protests unsurprisingly did nothing to stop Tetley’s closing their Leeds brewery and shifting production of Leeds’ famous (but pretty unspectacular) Tetley’s beer to outside of Leeds. Boo.

Being the press-savvy sorts that they are though, Leeds Brewery are brewing a special beer to commemorate the closure of the Tetley Brewery.

This ain’t any old beer though, oh no. It’s to be a ‘crowd sourced’ beer with the good folks of Leeds encouraged to go to www.goodbyetetleys.co.uk and register themselves before being able to have a say on the beer’s name, design and taste.

As a bonus, the more people who register, the cheaper the beer will be when it first goes on sale at a special beer festival in June to celebrate the beer’s launch. Smart, huh?

Even better (for me) is that the taste will be partly decided by a special celebrity tasting panel INCLUDING (probably) YOURS TRULY which is very exciting indeed (for me).

I’ve written loads more on this on the Leeds Guide website just here.

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Becoming More Like Alfie… Alfred Bar opens in Meanwood

You’ve probably noticed me banging on and on and on about the fact that North Bar are opening a pub in Meanwood.

Well, they’ve done it. It’s called Alfred. And it’s bloomin’ lovely.

And, to make it even better, I managed to get the FIRST EVER PINT EVER SERVED AT ALFRED. Which was awfully exciting. I wasn’t queuing up outside or anything. I just popped in at 1715 on the opening day, everything was spick and span, I ordered a pint of Rooster’s Wild Mule, and lo, it was the first ever pint.

How very, very exciting.

And look, here’s proof.

The bar has all the charm you’d expect from a North Bar, and sits somewhere between North and Further North.

The beer offering is good too, with Lindeboom, Schneider Weiss, Brooklyn Lager and Bacchus on tap and handpulls offering Rooster’s Wild Mule, Marble’s Ginger and Elland’s 1872 Porter. Splendid.

I’ve reviewed the bar for Leeds Guide, and you can find it here.

The Beer Prole has more photos and a review here

www.alfredbar.com

Alfred on Facebook

Alfred on Twitter

Meanwood Pubs, an update for 2011

Sorry again for the paucity of updates on Reet Good. Christmas and that have kept me hectically happy in visiting friends and family, actually spending time at home relaxing. Plus, I’ve been reading endless books on evolution (it seems that I’m hungry, nay starving, for knowledge) and watching ‘The West Wing’, a brilliant but cruel mistress which eats up all your time with its expertly told tales of life inside the White House.

‘The West Wing’ is over now though, so it’s back to more reading, and a refreshed attempt at regular blogging for 2011.

So, blathering over with, time for some Meanwood pub updates, which seem to be attracting a huge amount of interest. We’re clearly a heavy drinking bunch in this lovely north Leeds suburb.

First up, I promised a link to my Leeds Guide review of East of Arcadia and never delivered. Look, though, it’s here now. Right here: http://www.leedsguide.co.uk/review/bar-review/east-of-arcadia/17526

Secondly, we have the new North Bar, to be opened just a few doors down from East of Arcadia. It shall be called Alfred (as a smart Hitchcock-ian nod to North By North West, what with the bar being North West of North Bar). It shall be open in about a fortnight, and it shall be pink.

It looks like this

Well, a bit like this. I assume there’ll be less scaffolding, and an actual bar and stuff when it opens. You can get updates on their Facebook here, and their Twitter here, and at http://www.northbar.com/meanwood.php

I’m awfully excited. I’ve hopefully got my own hook for a tankard there and everything.

 

While we’re on pubs, I also recently visited Leeds Brewery‘s great latest acquisition, The Garden Gate. Another Leeds Guide review can be found here. I can sum it up like this: it’s a proper lovely, old pub, and it sells Leeds Brewery’s decent four regular beers, but you should visit whether you like beer or not, because it’s properly stunning.

We Have Pub. Meanwood’s East of Arcadia

Residents of Meanwood rejoice. We have a pub. It’s nice. The staff are friendly and they sell good beer. Bloody good news indeed.

I’ve lived in Meanwood for around 14 months now, and while I love my street, my neighbours, the park, and having a rather swanky new Waitrose (complete with some awesome bottled beers – Worthington White Shield, Fullers Bengal Lancer? Yes please), there was always something missing.

A decent local.

If me and my wife fancied a pint, we’d take the long trek up to The Stables in Weetwood, or the uphill slog into Headingley for Arcadia. Beyond that, we were lost.

Soon, we’re going to be spoilt for choice. North Bar’s new bar (which I’m still convinced should be called North Ba’ North West [it won’t]) will be opening early in the new year, but already open in East of Arcadia.

I’ll be doing a full review of the pub over at Leeds Guide soon, and will post it up here too, but for now, I’ll give you a brief summary.

It’s owned by the excellent Market Town Taverns

 

MTT themselves may have underestimated just how much we wanted a good bar round these parts. The queues were huge, the punters thirsty and waiting times were quite long. It was a teething problem of sort, but a good one, really. I never knew there were so many people living nearby.

We’ll be back. Many, many times.

Digest #3: Saltaire, landlords, the formations of humanity & Leeds

I’ve begun to quite like this digest-style posts. Like a family newsletter, but just about me, and possibly less interesting. Saves me from stretching out  my writing to fill space. Although it does unfortunately mean I don’t really engage with much that I’m writing about – well, not seriously. Maybe I’ll do more of that one day.

Salt Aire

Saltaire from the Leeds-Liverpool Canal

Saltaire from the Leeds-Liverpool Canal

I went to Saltaire (check it out: www.saltairevillage.info) last weekend. It really is an amazing place, and it reminded me how lucky we are in Yorkshire when it comes to natural scenery and awesome historic, industrial architecture. I’ve recently finished reading the latest book from The Idler, called Back to the Land, in it, several essays stress the importance of being near nature, greenery and unspoiled spaces to our own happiness, and reports links between urbanisation and depression. It all sounds awfully credible too me, so we’re fortunate to have magnificent dales in Yorkshire like those surrounding Saltaire and well, just about everywhere in the county, really. Between them and our stunning local park, there’s enough greenery to keep me jolly.

The main thing Saltaire is famous for though is the magnificent Salts Mill (www.saltsmill.org.uk). This glorious mill was built by one Titus Salt, a kindly man and mill owner who built the village of Saltaire, the church, the shops, damn near everything (except a pub, he was a Quaker) for his workers, so as to keep them from poverty. How very lovely.

Nowadays, the Mill has a mixed life. Some of it is offices for boring old businesses, but much of it plays home to galleries exhibiting work by Bradford’s very own David Hockney – a great artist who has some very interesting things to say in the aforementioned book by The Idler, look at his impressive work here: www.hockneypictures.com – plus other artists, a great book shop, an art shop, and some smaller not-permanent exhibitions, often rooted in the history of Saltaire and The Mill. There’s a great antique shop too, where I nearly bought a watch and my wife-to-be bought some tins (I’m veering into dull family newsletter ground now).

Saltaire is also on the Leeds-Liverpool canal. Which is great, and seems to pass through loads of interesting places. Bargers must have good taste.

Since this is still, nominally at least, a beer blog as well as me rambling about stuff, it should be pointed out that Saltaire has a brewery, and pubs these days (the most amusigly named, and apparently best, pub is called Fannies [titter]). The brewery is wittily called Saltaire Brewery (www.saltairebrewery.co.uk) and makes some great beers. I had a half of their blonde while in Saltaire and it was a great, light, session ale, with plenty of bitter hoppiness. They make some odder, and more exciting beers too, including a Hazlenut Coffee Porter and a Double Chocolate Stout. Check ’em out.

Navigation Tavern, Mirfield

Navigation Tavern, Mirfield

Navigation Tavern, Mirfield

Shock horror, I’m actually blogging right now about a pub. That’s not happened for a bit. It was my stag do a week or so ago. It was jolly good fun, me and some chums doing the Transpennine Real Ale Trail (I’ve mentioned this before here & here). One of the highlights though has to be arriving at the Navigation Tavern in Mirfield, some 10 or 11 hours in to the trial, having already booked rooms to stay there for the night. As we were pre-warned there was a Motown disco in full swing, we were not, however, warned about the landlord there, Kevin.

The greeting was, perhaps, not as warm as we’d hoped for: “we’ve given your rooms away now lads, you’re not much use to me at this time!” was the opening gambit. We were apologetic, and Kevin seemed to warm to us while we were there (except when one of us sprawled out on the chairs – he was not amused by that). The pub is a proper old community pub, everyone there seems to know each other, it does a range of great ales, and Kevin is clearly the man that the pub revolves around. He was either funny, or terrifying, and we couldn’t quite work out which. We had a good time though, and the rooms cost £30.50 with breakfast, which, plastic eggs aside, was stupendous, and served with the same mix of humour and threatening behaviour as our rooms had been the night before, especially when he found out that my father-in-law to be was a vegetarian – what a look of shock and disgust. It was a proper Yorkshire pub experience.

Away from Mirfield, the other truly awesome pub was the Station Buffet Bar in Staylbridge (www.buffetbar.org). This station side bar looked like it hadn’t had cosmetic work done since the 70s, and the menu hadn’t changed its prices since that decade either. £2.50 for pie, pies and black beans? Yes please. A truly quaint little pub the kind of which you just wouldn’t expect to exist any more.

Stalybridge buffet bar

Stalybridge buffet bar

The Formations of Humanity
Yep, the title did promise that I’d get round to talking about this, and I have look. It’s a subject that surely can’t fail to fascinate. How did we come about to be the dominate creature on the planet? To function in ways that no other creature does, to think in ways that no other creature does. Why do we appreciate and create art and music, and build tools, and yet nothing else does. Obviously I don’t have the answer, but it’s something I keep thinking and wandering about, and I’m keen to learn more about. I’m reading Alice Roberts’ The Incredible Human Journey (read what the Guardian said about it here) in the hope it might teach me something. I’m all ears if anyone has any better sources of info..

Leeds
There’s been loads of interesting debate going on about my home city recently, most notably just here: http://theculturevulture.co.uk/blog/?p=7098. Seems a lot of people are a
little unimpressed by what Leeds offers culturally and how the city present’s itself to the outside world.

And Finally…
If I could get a month or so off work, I’d
bloody love to go WWOOFing, learn some skills in farming and go back to nature for a bit. How very middle class of me.

Keep On Runnin’: The Otley Run, 17 pubs in 13 hours can it be done? No.

Okay, I’m not in some stupid meathead university club that requires all members to do some form of initiation involving humiliating acts or forced drinking – you know, the normal idiots who try to cram in a month’s worth of drinking into one day. I am, however, friends with a chap called Sturdy.  He’s getting married soon, and, to celebrate, his stag do involved a trawl through the Otley Run.

Folks living in Leeds will know all about the Otley Run. It’s a pub crawl from Headingley (the most studenty bit of Leeds) to Leeds city centre, and it’s infamous for annoying students in fancy dress stumbling in to the road and generally making a nuisance of themselves.

I’ve lived in Leeds for eight years now, and I’ve never done the Otley Run, because I’m sane. Neither have Sturdy, or Rob, his best man, or, indeed, any of the stag-doers. It seemed we were in good company.

Don’t fret. I’m not going to take you on a blow-by-blow, pub-by-pub account of where we went and what we drank. That would be boring, and anyway, by pub nine my memory is, well, hazy.

What is remarkable, though, is how many of these, quite frankly, shit pubs served up quality booze. Yep, I drank far more pints of Tetley and John Smith smooth flow that I would have liked, but I reckon a good 6 or 7 of the pubs I visited had a decent drop of hand-pulled ale. As I said, I don’t remember the whole evening, but I definitely got in pints of Black Sheep, Leeds Pale, Tetley’s and something Morris themed in one of the early drinking holes.  Which is nice.

A real beer lover would probably remark on the fact that some of these ales weren’t well kept, but, pft, I’d had three pints by 1pm, what did I care?

One final admission, I didn’t make it through all 17 pubs, I got to the Eldon (pub 12) and 11pm (that’s 12 hours in, we started at 11am), having had 12 pints, loads of water, a really bloody bad burger from Hyde Park Corner pub (don’t go there if you can avoid it, it’s really shit), and a Gregg’s pastie. Which was nice.

The highlight was Arcadia, which really is an awfully nice drinking den. Full of quality ales and a relaxed atmosphere, it’s not officially part of the Otley run, as they ban large groups of students and fancy dress. We, though, were well behaved and our matching T-shirts were mainly kept below jumpers. Also quite impressive are The Three Horseshoes in Far Headingley, and Woodies (again in Far Headingley). I don’t actually remember being in The Packhorse, but I’m sure it was great. It always is.

Lowlights were the aforementioned burger at the Hyde Park, and indeed, the entirity of that enormous pub. Plus, all the trendy, student-centric drinkeries in the centre of Headingley. The Box (all big sports screens, shit music and idiots), Headingley Taps (lovely building, unpleasant clientele), The Skyrack (just generally horrible and too full of students). We missed out The Arc (we visited the similarly-named Arcadia instead) and that was a good move, because that place is nasty too.

So, what did I learn? Firstly, 12 pints is my absolute limit, secondly, Sturdy has some very pleasant friends, thirdly, most pubs in Headingley are worth avoiding, which makes Arcadia even more of a gem. Fourth, real ale is more generally available than you’d think.

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). Nope, 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.