Friday, April 18, 2014

Revisiting Leeds - two years on (part one)

One of the cities I seem not to visit often is Leeds. In fact, checking earlier posts on 'A Swift One' shows it was a couple of years since I, personally, visited there and wrote about it. Yesterday seemed to be a good day to redress the balance and take a look at some of my old favourite pubs and catch up with some of the new kids on the block.

As those of you who know me are already aware, I like to combine my beer trips with a bit of 'bus bashing' so my first call is usually The Palace down by the bus station just off Kirkgate. I have written about here before, and will not repeat myself except to say that on this visit I encountered a beer festival - in fact a festival that covered all the Nicholsons pubs and since there are three in the city, led me to rearrange my route a little to check out as many beers as I could.

The arrangement here was similar to that of Wetherspoons beer festivals, with the beers being available on the bar at the respective pubs, and with several specials brewed specially for the festivals. I did discover that thirds of a pint were available - but not until the third pub - and unlike 'Spoons - the prices were a little on the steep sid e. I started with Acorn ' Dead Gold' a 4.5% special, and followed this with Brains 'Three C-Son' brewed on their test plant. A pleasant version of the style, with plenty of fruit flavour and a good hop hit from the trio of American hops used. I saw flyers about the festival but did not get a programme here.

My next visit was the 'Duck And Drake' on New York St. This had changed a bit since my previous visit. And the door has moved - to my confusion as I thought the pub was closed. The pub still has its bare boards and ale house feel but a very knowledgable landlord and strangely the only other customer when I visited was from Huddersfield ! Sadly the Ossett beer I wanted to sample was unavailable for line cleaning but there was plenty of other choice, mostly sourced from Yorkshire breweries, but sadly from my point of view no 'ticks'. The Ossett 'By George' I sampled here was in good form however.

Plenty of more pubs to try - so it was onwards and upwards to New Station St, and the 'Friends Of Ham'. A pub I had heard good things about from my librarian namesake and I was keen to try. The bar itself is at street level and is fairly small but there is a large seating area downstairs. A 'pub' - I use the term loosely - that seems to pride itself on its eclectic food choice and choice of interesting beers. There are 3 pumps available and they do serve thirds. I opted for a Magic Rock/Hawkshead collaboration ' The Illusionist'. It was a 3.5% dark beer but allegedly a pale ale. Confused - you bet I was. But it was a pretty decent beer as would be expected from two class breweries. I followed this with a third of Fell Brewery 'Tinderbox IPA' which was a well crafted beer from a brewery I rarely encounter.

Fortunately this was just round the corner from my next port of call. The 'Leeds Brewery Tap' is somewhat similar to 'Ham' and appears to be trying to attract the same clientele, with a good food menu. Here the beer range is weighted towards the breweries own beers as would be expected. I chose a half of Brass Castle 'Burn Out'. Decent but not quite to my taste, neither was the cost which I found a bit steep at £1.75, but I was in the 'posher bit' of Leeds. Time for an advert break.

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