Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Leeds paper session part two

Picture courtesy of Templar Hotel, Leeds
2nd leg:
The obvious way to continue this New York Times' inspired session would have been to head for The Cross Keys on Water Lane.
It was after all the other Leeds pub mentioned in the paper's homage to Yorkshire's real ale scene.
I've been there once before and had a great time washing down haggis scotch eggs with Kirkstall's Three Swords on Burns' Night.
But lurking in the back of my mind was a long-held ambition to visit a pub I'd heard a lot about but had never been to - The Templar Hotel.
I remembered the vocal campaign to save the pub which is being waged by customers and MPs after it was left under a cloud by developers.
But I had little compass on it until I walked out of one of Leeds' fancy arcades and saw its tiled Melbourne Ales facade bathed in the streetlights.
After drinking in the architecture I finally made it through the doors and was equally impressed by the long-bar, the booths, the wood panelling and the Knights Templar histories.
Front entrance. Picture c/o Templar's twitter account
This beer chronicler also noted Goose Eye chinook, Bradfield Farmers Blonde and two from Ridgeside , among others, on the bar.
My friends and I ordered pints of Farmers Blonde, Ridgeside Stargazer and Snake Charmer, which came to eight quid something. Then we took a seat in the rear snug.

As I was drooling over the nelson sauvin hopped Stargazer from up the road in Meanwood, I looked up and saw they had Masters Snooker on several screens throughout the bar.
Now, I know the prospect of TVs in real ale bars may fill some traditionalists with dread, but not me.
This was done in an understated way, the volume wasn't ramped up to ear-splitting and I could just hear John Virgo saying: 'Where's the cue ball going?'
People were quite happily playing cards nearby, chatting or just having a quiet pint.
Beer wise, one of my friends stayed on Farmers Blonde during our visit while another friend and I shopped about.
He was on the Ridgeside Snake Charmer, an American hopped beer which he really rated. So I jumped on that next and gave it the thumbs up too. 

The brewery is also behind a special beer highlighting the pub's plight in the wake of the planned Eastgate development.
I'm uncertain as to what the current state of play is with this. Talk of a casino seems to have died down and there is some suggestion the pub's facade may be saved. But precious little seems to have been said about preserving the wonderful interior.
The pub appears to be safe until at least April 2014 but let's pray the lovely pub on Templar Lane remains untouched for future generations to enjoy.
But before we leave The Templar, a quick word about the service, which can make or break a pub visit in my opinion.
This was first rate, we were offered tasters when we couldn't make up our minds between the Goose Eye and Slater's Top Totty. And the bar staff switched to Eurosport when the snooker went off BBC2. Talk about listening to the customers.
But our Leeds session wasn't quite done yet. We made our way down Briggate and turned into a yard to reveal Whitelock's Ale House.
Two pints of Joshua Jane and a half of Five Points RailwayPorter
Leeds' oldest pub, aka The Turk's Head, will be 300-years-old next year. We called quite late when it was atmospherically lit by candlelight and some other subdued lighting, so we didn't see its full dimensions. But knew we were somewhere steeped in history where they know a bit about serving good beer after 299 years in the trade.
Actually, the current management took over in May 2012 but seem to be doing a fine job if last Thursday's visit was anything to go by.
I was going to order Ilkley's Joshua Jane,  a Yorkshire nut-brown ale made with US hops, which I'd enjoyed a bottle of recently.
But then my eye alighted on Five Points Railway Porter 4.8%. I think Tim the Younger had told me about this brewery the last time I bumped into him down The Star. 
So I opted for the dark beer from Hackney and it was the perfect finale to a fine three-pub session.
I'd started with a black IPA at The Victoria, drank pales at The Templar and finished with a porter in Whitelock's.
I love the lingering taste of a good porter or stout to reflect on my session during the long train journey home. I could still taste it six stops down the line.

For those of you wanting part one of this Leeds beer odyssey then here is the link:

Picures: All from The Templar Hotel facebook/twitter account, except the one at Whitelock's, which is mine. 


Leigh said...

Nice round-up, and glad you enjoyed Leeds. The Templar has its fans, but the beer it very good as you found out. One suspects it almost needs another nearby pub worth visiting to give it a hand somewhat, as it's in a part of Leeds that has no real ale - although it's geographically very close to North Bar. Incidentally, Five Points, although a london brewer, is owned by Ed Mason, who is part of the company who own Whitelocks. So now you now!

Ale Ambler said...

Thanks very much, Leigh. I hadn't been out drinking in Leeds for ages and it's now firmly back on my radar.
The Templar was a revelation to me and I shall definitely make the effort for a return visit or two.
I didn't realise the connection between Whitelock's and Five Points so cheers for the inside track.
And good luck with your event at Hop Hideout on Fri, Feb 28.