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.

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.

Meanwood Pub Updates

I have learnt some stuff about my soon-to-be new locals.

1) Market Town Tavern’s offering is being worked on right now, will be called East of Arcadia (hmm, not sure about that, I assume it’s a pun on East of Eden), and will be a bar and restaurant. Cool.

2) North Bar’s new bar will be opening at 8am most days (though will not serve booze until 11am – take heed Wetherspoons early morning boozing fans). It should (in my opinion) by called North Ba’ North West. I’ve suggested said name to one of the owners, whether he’ll go for it, I know not (I guess: no). I assume it will do breakfasts and good coffee and stuff. Which would be awesome.

Slightly off topic, I discovered The Stables pub at Weetwood Hall on Thursday night, I’d never been before (for some reason) but joined some neighbours for a birthday drink and was impressed. Comfy, laid back and serving an exceptional pint of Copper Dragon’s Golden Pippin (their IPA weren’t half bad neither!). Plus they show the football (boy, was I glad to see that return on Saturday. Shame Leeds lost though) and have a massive courtyard. We were shown a great route back home via ginnels that takes a mere 15 minutes. Whether I can remember it or not next time is another matter.

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.

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…

The Ship Inn Forecast (A micro-brewery in Newton-by-the-Sea)

I’ll start by apologising for the pun. Sorry.

Assuming you’ve forgiven me and are still reading, I’ll tell you a little bit about one of the nicest pubs I’ve ever visited.

It’s called (as you’ve probably guessed) The Ship Inn, and it’s in Newton-by-the-Sea, which, you may or may not know, is on the North East coast, north of Alnmouth and Amble and south of Berwick. It’s a stunning, and much under-appreciated area. Miles upon miles of coast, unspoilt, bordering on rolling sand dunes and masses of countryside, lovely old buildings and them lovely Geordie folks. It’s also, so I’m told, in the least rainy and sunniest county in England. Awesome.

My girlfriend and I love the North East coast. We go there a fair bit, despite the almost 3 hour drive, and love walking along those amazing beaches.

You’re probably not here to read about all that though, you’re here for the beer, right, and the North East coast has a proper gem hidden amongst the dunes and beaches. The aforementioned Ship Inn.

It’s part of a small U-shaped terrace of houses from pre-1700, now owned by the National Trust, with a lovely grassy square in the middle. The pub has functioned as an alehouse since the 1700s.

The Ship Inn is run by one Christine Forsyth and her daughter Hannah. Christine decided she wanted a change in her life, fell in love with Newton-by-the-Sea (well you would, wouldn’t you?) took a risk, bought a pub, did it up and gave it the TLC it needed.

She then decided to make her pub a home from both great food and quality, micro-brewed ales brewed in the building itself.

She’s done good.

The food is reasonably priced look here, and great, with loads of lovely, locally produced grub – I had locally caught crab salad and it was stunning. The beer though, is even more impressive.

They got the equipment second hand, found a brewer in the shape of Michael Heggarty and started brewery 6 or 7 regular beers. In two visits (one for a restorative half during a walk, and one for dinner) I tried a  few. The Ship Hop Ale is a light golden beer with a nice, fresh hop character, the Dolly Day Dream is a lovely ruby ale rich in flavour and, best of all, is the Sea Coal, a dark wheat stout with smoky notes sat alongside rich chocolate and slightly tart raspberry flavours. I mainly drank that.

Really, you shouldn’t need the motivation to visit this stunning pub and try their great beers to come to the North East coast. Take the pub away and I’d still happily go there once a month for the scenery alone.  But come up (or down) walk, soak up the rugged beauty of the place then, when the night draws in, head to this glorious pub, which makes the coastline even more perfect than it already is.

If I can retire near here one day, I’ll be a very happy man.

Is Beer The New Wine? This One Is: Chardonnayle

Harry's Bar

Harry's Bar, pinched from BeerInTheEvening.Com, making the pub look more picturesque than it actually is

There have been mutterings on various blogs about whether beer is the new wine, can be the new wine, or even if it wants to be the new wine. No-one seems to have asked it yet, but I guess that it’s not too fussed either way. You can read bits of the debate on Woolpack Dave’s blog here and Pete Brown’s blog here.

I have more or less conclusive evidence that beer not only CAN be the new wine, but IS. I give you exhibit A – Chardonnayle.

You what?

Yep, Chardonnayle.

What’s Chardonnayle? Well, I can’t tell you too much. I ordered a half of it for my girlfriend at Harry’s Bar in Wakefield – an Ossett Brewery (leading the Real Ale Revolution, apparently) pub – and it seems to be one of the brewery’s own beers. However, internet research pulls up a few conflicting bits of information. It was, it seemed, brewed at the Red Lion brewery, Ossett, which later became Bob’s Brewery (FUN  BEER FACT: I used to live across the road from the titular Bob).

All this waffling and barely researched bollocks is introducing a truly interesting (although not necessarily truly good) beer – Chardonnayle.

It’s presented with a pump clip that looks like a fancy wine label. This 5.1% beer smells slightly of lavender and elderflower and the taste is really crisp, barely bitter at all and with loads of grape-ish fruity flavours. I didn’t really like it, my girlfriend was quite keen, but the woman next to me was drinking it pint after pint, so she liked it.

While most of my internet research on this subject has been sketchy to say the least, one thing I have found is the notes about this multi-award winning beer. They are from this rather odd Wakefield CAMRA website for Bob’s Brewery and they explain what’s gone into this beer. They say this:

“complex stylish strong pale ale with hints of lemongrass & fruits like Chardonnay wine, with Willamette hops for aroma”

Which explains not very much, really.

I don’t have much to add, apart from noting that Chardonnayle is actually a registered trademark, and is worth trying for interest, if nowt else.

The Fox & Newt: A Leeds Brew Pub

Fox & Newt

Fox & Newt

I lived a minute or so’s stroll from The Fox & Newt last year. It was my local for two years, yet I hardly ever went there. Why?

Well, when I first moved in, it was pretty fucking horrid. It was dirty, there was regularly tussles and unpleasant drunks outside and once they had a Shed Seven tribute band playing. Enough said, really.

But some time last year, this nice little pub in Burley by Park Lane College got taken on by new landlords who reinvented the place. They started doing food, they cleaned the place up and furnished it nicely. Unfortunately they also started putting on some diabolical local bands in order to attract more customers.  But just go when the bands aren’t playing and it’ll be fine.

The best thing that the Fox & Newt did, though, was to decide to push cask ale. They have four pumps constantly on and stock stuff from local breweries like Wharfedale, Leeds, Elland and Saltaire. They also set up a proper microbrewery downstairs and brew four of their own regular beers which, while not owt to right home about, are perfectly good and varied ales. They’ll give you a tour if you ask nicely, something I intend to do for this ‘ere blog sooner or later.

But I think the Fox & Newt might struggle. Aside from when a band bring down a good handful of fans, it’s never a very busy establishment and the pub seems intent on attracting the plentiful students who live in the area. Since they’re based outside the city centre and surrounded by student halls and a college, this is a sensible move, but are they going to suddenly find a massive spike in students drinking real ale, or will they be going for cheap lager and wine to keep costs down and increase drunkeness?

Move the Fox & Newt into Headingley, Leeds City Centre Chapel Allerton or (ideally) my end of town, Meanwood, and it would probably be a thriving community pub, unfortunately, if your main market is students, a push for real ale might be the wrong way to reach your audience.