Yesterday I had some time to kill, so decided to revisit some pubs I had not been to for some time in Leeds. I have never classed Leeds as a brilliant drinking town, which is a shame because it offers some wonderful historic pubs, but none seem to have a range of beers to attract the 'ticker'. This is what I found.
I decided to start at the Palace which stands in the shadow of Leeds Parish Church. The pub was much as I remembered it, large and airy with plenty of room inside plus outside seating as well and is now part of the Nicholson's pub chain, a little more of which later. It offers eight or so beers, but these are mostly regulars from bigger breweries. There were beers from Sharps, Caledonian and Bass but I chose the only new beer on the bar to me, Thornbridge 'Brian Turners Golden Ale'. It was priced at £2.90 which was a bit of a shock, but in good condition. Not a bad start - but it wouldn't last.
I then made my way up Eastgate, bypassing the Three Legs and the Horse & Trumpet, to Whitelocks in Briggate. This is a Leeds institution and is a pub steeped in history, apparently going back to 1715. Totally the opposite of the Palace, seating here was at a premium inside. It is rather gloomy, probably because it is situated in a small alleyway, but there is some outside seating available . I found a range of eight beers on offer here too, but again nothing out of the ordinary. I settled for their house beer brewed by the Leeds brewery, but there were beers from York, and Theakstons on the bar as well.
My next port of call was the North Bar in New Briggate, near the Grand Theatre. Another long, thin pub, and easy to miss as it just looks to be a shop front. It is modern inside and it's decor gives it a fresh, clean feel. The bar is at the far end and alongside the four handpumps it offers a vast array of foreign bottled beer. I ignored these and settled down with Roosters 'Wild Mule' as I watched the workers of Leeds scurrying past the front of the pub going about their lunchtime business.
Onwards and upwards. My next pub was one I had not visited for years. The Victoria stands on Great George Street, behind the Town Hall. A superbly ornate building with plenty of room inside and again a decent number of beers on the bar. This is another in the Nicholson's chain, whose speciality appears to be food, or more precisely every sort of sausage you could imagine! The beer range was a bit staid, though I did manage to find a Morrissey Fox that was new to me. The Victoria is certainly worth a call if only for its splendid interior.
Just down the road stands Mr Foleys on the Headrow. It is the pub I usually visit because it's beer range is different to the rest of Leeds, often having something unusual to offer. Not this time though. Four York beers from their regular range plus some rather uninspired guests. Never mind, can't win them all.
It was getting on a bit now so I omitted the Town Hall Tavern from my itinerary (all Taylors beers usually) and headed for the Leeds Brewery Tap just down from the railway station. Again, a very modern pub conversion and a place that's always busy because of it's location. It has a basic core range of three Leeds beers and their seasonal special, plus a couple of guests. I was impressed to find Acorn 'Pacific Jade' on the bar here and settled down with that to gather my thoughts.
In my opinion, if that counts for much, Leeds has plenty of interesting pubs to visit, and whilst I only scratched the surface here (albeit a decent cross-section), for the beer enthusiast the range on offer was bland and uninteresting with the larger breweries predominating. If I had been in 'beer ticking' mode I would have been very disappointed with what was available. It is not in the same league as Manchester or Sheffield I'm sorry to say, and even in Huddersfield we offer a better range. Sorry Leeds, must do better, or it will be a while before I come back around your pubs again.