Monday, 31 August 2015

Message in a Bottle

Oh, the red hot summer of 2015 is drawing to a close, with the gossamer kiss of a gentle breeze, caressing one's cheek, soon to be replaced with the ruggedness, associated typically with the the approaching Autumnal months. (Yeah, I know. Summer 2015 was NOT too good. I thought at one stage I had got a tan. It was later diagnosed as rust !, and the wind has been "unseasonal" too. Poetic licence is a wonderful thing to exploit.) Through this Summer, I have found myself turning more towards bottled beers than I would usually have done. This is mainly due to my, and T'other 'arf's, work patterns not quite synchronising, a dose of shingles, suffered in good grace by my half-pint taster, and the Leeds outing. That doesn't mean I have not ventured out, just a little less than expected. Over the last few weeks of Summer, we have, usually, in fact, besides Leeds, exclusively, been frequenting Grimsby's Top Town. The turn of this month found us meeting, along with friends, in The Hope and Anchor, raising a glass to a friend of ours, Big Phil Revill, who sadly passed away, enjoying life in Cambodia, at the age of just 47. He was a big, friendly guy, an ex-taxi colleague of mine who was as soft as, well, you know what, but was built like an outhouse. I have many fond memories of Phil, but I will always remember him, as quite a few party-goers in this area will, as the cabbie who would grow a big white beard, every year, and don a red and white Santa suit for the Xmas rush ! Legend. After swapping a few stories, and a pint or two of Bateman's "XB", their well balanced 3.7% Best Bitter, which is dry, bitter, and perfectly hopped in the finish, but has a pleasing hint of a nutty sweetness running through, we all moved on to Old Lloyd's Bar, a good pub with good music, but no real ale. Oh, well, you can't have everything. Best choice was the Guinness, which was as average as this brew usually is. We ended our celebration of Phil's life in The Barge, some attempting the quiz, others just managing to work out how bar stools work, at the 2nd or 3rd attempt. I have said before how"Bombardier" on here, is, probably, the best pint of this Charles Wells (Wells & Young's as it is now ) beer in the area. It didn't fail this time either. We, the sensible part of the group, bade farewell, and made our respective ways home. The others ? They could still be on there for all we know !! A fitting, if slightly mad, send off.
Big Phil, 2nd right in Cypus 2007.
Another boozy afternoon.

Otherwise, our sampling has been done in The Yarborough Hotel. Our last visit, a refresher after taking my 6 year old Granddaughter for a day's fishing, we sampled, first the wonderfully dark, rich and choco-coffee "Honey Porter" from those wizzards at Milestone's. This Porter was reasonably sweet, with a dryness in the finish. The initial aroma is chocolate, which is evident in the well balanced taste, along with a hint of fruit and a lovely coffee back taste. The honey is there but it is not a big part of the taste, I really enjoyed this beer. T'other 'arf had the Caledonian "Golden Promise" an Organic Harvest Ale of  5%, which leads with a grainy aroma, quite malty taste which leads through to a dry, slightly citrus, but well balanced finish, A very quaffable Ale. Whilst Jane stayed on the Caledonian brew, I moved on to my last drink in here, a brew by USA's Dan Kopman of The St. Louis Brewery, in conjunction with Leicester's Everard's Brewery. "Schlafly", a 4.4%, Pale Ale, and promoted as a session beer, is delicately spiced in the aroma and taste, along with a light caramel maltiness. There is a hint of fresh bread, and a fruitiness combines well in the dry, well balanced finish. We decided to pop home, tidy ourselves up a touch, and have the evening out. We eventually strolled down to The Wheatsheaf, where we were soon sitting outside, with the setting sun's last embers flickering their last, through the trees. In hand, we had a pint of Ramsgate Brewery's "Al Murray's Beautiful British Beer", and a half of the 3.8%  "New World Pale Ale" from Marston's Pedigree stable. The "Beautiful British Beer", at 4%, was a good malty brew, with hints of biscuit, spice and fruit combining well to really lift this beer, so much so that Jane decided to have my pint, whilst I ended up with the half !! I wasn't too disappointed though, as the "New World Pale Ale", a beer I have had quite a few times before, was it's usual dry, zesty and refreshing punch lasting right down to the finish. It always leaves the palate with a satisfying tingle. After a couple more, we wandered down The County Hotel, which had a group on, whose name, sadly, escapes me. Although three pumps bedeck the bar, dispensing different brews. Sharp's "Atlantic" and "Doom Bar"as well as "Black Sheep Bitter". I was not too impressed with the condition of any of them. Very disappointing. The group, on the other hand, were excellent, playing covers of Franz Ferdinand, Bon Jovi, Kinks, among others. The night finished with a Whyte & Mackay whiskey in my hand, boogieing along, embarrassingly, to some great music.
Back to JDW's Yarborough Hotel. On a previous visit here, I had a couple of really good pint, worthy of a mention here. One of these was the 5.1% Wharf Bank Brewery "Yorkshire IPA", a lovely golden, crisp and zesty Ale, which had a hint of floral notes combined with a lovely dry and bitter finish. A really enjoyable IPA. This is a great summertime brew, and would quench many a thirst quite swiftly. The other beer was the quite malty 3.9% American styled Pale Ale from Roosters, "Wild Mule". There is a slight tropical fruit taste in the background, which doesn't distract from that maltiness, and the finish is reasonably dry and bitter. I liked this one, but have spoken to others who thought it bland. Best to make up your own minds I think.

Now, on to those bottles.
As I have mentioned, I have been sampling more by the way of bottles just recently, so I will share with you now some of my humble opinions.
First, "London Porter" from Sainsbury's Taste the Difference range. This 5% beer is brewed by Shepherd Neame and, although a touch thin, isn't too bad. The taste is of chocolate, burnt malt and a hint of liquorice lurks in the background.  For a "home brand", this is quite reasonable, and on par with the other supermarket's offerings.
Fuller's "Honey Dew" is a beer I have also recently tasted in cask form too, and , besides the carbonation being much higher, both variations come out good to the tasting. There is a waft of fresh mowed grass in the aroma, which carries on into the sweet, slightly rich malt body. The honey is there, in  the background, but is not overpowering at all. There is a mild bitterness in the finish of this 5% Organic Golden Ale. Definitely a summer drink, and one for the BBQ parties.
Badger's "Hopping Hare", a crisp and zesty 4.4% beer, is a light coloured Bitter, which is not that heavily hopped in taste, considering it is "thrice hopped", but it is very refreshing, with biscuit, cinder toffee and a hint of citrus fruit in the main, followed by the tangy flash of grapefruit in the medium finish.
Now a true classic, and one that has been well written about for quite a while. It is another from the Fuller's Brewery, one of their most popular brews, "Bengal Lancer". This IPA, at 5.3% is full of flavour and character, with a rich malt and spice, which tantalises the palate , and leads to a sweet, but not sickly, tropical fruit taste, with mango very evident, in the main. The finish is a lovely mild bitter one, not overly long, but one that does linger. A good solid, and well received brew, which deserves all the plaudits I have seen.

I have enjoyed one or two (or so !) bottles of Titanic Stout of late, on offer, among other beers, at the local Spar shop, conveniently situated on my way home from work (so, that's why they are called convenience stores). At 4.5%, this a a very velvety smooth beer, with rich chocolate and a hint of vanilla. There is a nice, warming bitter-sweetness in the pleasing medium finish. 3 for a Fiver ? Bargain.

Back to those random bottles now. Lidl's have recently improved their selection in the beer aisles of late, and one of the beers to take my eye was "Blanche de Namur" a Wheat Beer of  4.5% , brewed by Brasserie du Bocq in Belgium. I am I am getting into these cloudy beers, of late, and this was a very refreshing beer, with a big yeasty punch, and a heavy citrus taste, with orange and lemon at the fore. The mouthfeel is, somewhat, waxy, but not unpleasant. Corriander and a little bit of ginger also make an appearance in this quite complex, but easy drinking Belgian beer. Other beers sampled from here included another Belgian brew,"Bornem Abbey" a 6% Blonde Beer from Brouwerij van Steenberge. A fresh tasting beer, with a perfumed aroma, slight yeast taste and a dry bitterness throughout. Not bad, but I did prefer the previous offering from Belgium. Next up was Badger "First Call", a 4% Bitter with a good, if slightly uninspiring, "earthy" malted aroma and taste. Quite a standard bitter, really, with not a great deal to lift it from being, well, just a bitter. "Yorkshire Gold" from Leeds Brewery, has become a regular on the shelf here, and the bottle is equally as tasty as the cask version, which I have praised in my last post. The last one I will review in this session is Bank's "Mild", a drink which has been around for years. Although a little thin, the flavour is light caramel, a bit nutty and quite sweet. It soon drifts away though, leaving a slightly watery fruitiness, but, at less than a pound a bottle, it is about what I expected. It is not unpleasant, but certainly not a robust Mild Ale. With a few more bottles to review, a Holiday abroad, not to mention a night out in Didsbury upcoming, I will leave it there. Until the next time.

Cheers and keep it "Real".

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Leeds. The Crawl goes on. Part Two.

Saturday Afternoon.

The morning started out with an excellent cooked breakfast at the Travelodge, over which the day's plan was hatched. The boys would be off for a walk, followed by beer, the girls, shopping and then meeting up with us for a beer. Simple. What could go wrong. (Gurgle, gurgle) We all got ready and headed out (gurgle). After a twenty, or so, minutes of our (gurgle, gurgle) walk, I desperately realised that, maybe, last night's kebab, followed by a hearty breakfast, was not a great idea, and a desperate rush back to the hotel was most welcome. I later caught up with Steve, back in the Pack Horse, although I opted out of the first pint of the day. After that, the rest of the plan was hatched, and we were soon heading towards our first “new” pub of the day.

The Hop. The Dark Arches, Neville Street.
Let's go to The Hop !
Don't give up looking for this pub. Continue down Neville St, until you see an alleyway on the right, under the station. Follow this, under the platforms, over a river (yes, a river) and eventually you will reach The Hop. After exiting the alleyway, you are confronted with a pub frontage that overlooks a canal and various apartment buildings and a Hilton Hotel which is very cosmopolitan to behold. This is an Ossett Brewery outlet, with a good choice of their beers, alongside a few guests. Steve went for the Ossett “Inception”, a 4% Golden Ale, which has a quite complex aromatic, almost herbal, taste to it, with pine, citrus and a woodiness detectable. Fair bitterness is there in the dry finish. It takes a bit of getting used to at the start, but by the end it transcribes to a good beer. My beer was Great Heck “Voodoo Mild” , 4.3%. You are greeted by a big mouthful of chocolate and roasted malt, which carries on throughout. I thought it more stout-like. The finish is medium sweet, but dry. The perfect pick-me-up to recover from the effects of last nights kebab ! A great pub, and great beer.

The Scarbrough Hotel Bishopgate Street.
Just below the station is this pleasant “Nicholson's” pub, which is very busy with passing trade. A good selection of pumps display their wares in this very clean and tidy, well kept Inn. At busy times, seating can be at a premium, but don't be deterred, seats do come available. Although we did not eat, the food which passed us, on the way to expectant diners, looked delicious, and portions large. I opted for the 4% “Red Sails Cherry Porter” from Shepherd Neame, which was well rounded, with a lovely cherry taste all the way through from the rich, smooth sweetness of the malt to the gorgeous dry finish. Marston's “New World Pale Ale” was my co-taster's tipple. This was his first taste of this 4% beer, with it's lovely bitter, crisp and citrus notes. He is now a “New World” beer convert !

Leeds Brewery Tap New Station Street
This is an easy pub to find, when you find with this area being on two levels, and beers already being taken, one can get a little disorientated. We wandered up to the Station via the steps opposite The Scarbrough, and, after bearing right, then forward onto the station, then, tentatively, left, felt quite stupid when we espied it, next to the GIANT multi-storey car park ! It is a very modern looking bar, light airy and, obviously, carrying a full Leeds Brewery line up. In here I opted for Leeds “Yorkshire Gold”, which was just as good, if not better, than last night's offering in The Swan, whilst Thornbridge “Wild Swan”, a very zesty Pale Ale, with slight spiciness, and a noticeable bitter lemon note, a refreshing 3.5% Ale, was also included in our round. The shopping had finished whilst we were in here, so our numbers were now doubled for the rest of the afternoon's shenanigans. The next round much reflected the last one, with 2 halves added, in this wonderful bar, with an easy going feel about it.

Friends of Ham New Station Street
Well, the Friends of Ham, part deli, part wine bar, part pub. Very cosmopolitan indeed. We were greeted by a very polite waitress, who, after determining our preferences, eating, drinking or both, invited our party to find a table downstairs. We then waited for our “beer menu” to be presented for our perusal, then our order was taken and, eventually, our drinks arrived. I liked the concept, rather like some micropubs we have visited, but I did find it a bit of a long-winded way to get a drink. A good experience, in some ways, but when busy, you may have to wait a while or so. So, what did we drink in here ? The two halves were the keg “Pacer HAM's Pale Ale” 4.1%, from Summer Wine Brewery, a fruity, slightly bitter, but quite rounded Pale Ale, with a high carbonation. A very refreshing keg beer. Steve chose another Pale Ale, this one from The Bristol Beer Factory, called “Independence”, 4.6%. A very hoppy, floral and reasonably fruity American style Pale, which was packed with flavours, but not overly complex. I had Ilkley's “Damn Good Threshing”, a Wheat Beer of 5.1%. Cloudy, slight yeast and that wheat bitter-sweetness is much evident, and this was as good a Wheat Beer as I have tasted.

Tapped Boar Lane.
On the Tapped Taps soon.
This is a very busy and bustling pub portraying another excellent display of beers, Cask, Keg and Craft beers. There are a myriad of beer pumps behind the bar, with vessels of beer readying at the back. The clientele is very mixed, and the atmosphere is vibrant. There is a quite airy feel to the place. I, again, chose a 5% Stout, Moor Beer Company's “Stout”, a Craft beer with a slightly smoky taste. Not a heavy beer, in fact quite thin in body, but certainly not wishy washy. Can a 5% stout be a session beer? Intrepid “Explorer” , a Blonde Ale of 4.3%, with a fruity aroma and crisp,dry and quite zesty and bitter finish, was the other pint in the round, along with Bernard “Pivo” Czech Lager. Although not usually a lager lover, from my tiny little sample, I thought the taste of this one was really good. The ladies enjoyed it too, enough to prevent The Beermonster having seconds.

The Head of Steam Mill Hill.
A Cameron's pub which, due to it's size, popularity and choice of beers, is very busy. Patience at the bar is a virtue, but the welcoming staff do manage quite well, and the locals are very engaging and entertaining. This corner bar, with central serving facilities, carries another good range of beers, mostly from nearby breweries. Since this was to be our last port of call for this afternoon's little walkabout, we decided to have a couple in here. I started on another pint of “Damn Good Threshing”, which was equally as good as the pint of the same, partaken in the Friends Of Ham, before moving on to a 4.9% Titanic “Plum Porter”. With fruit in the aroma, and plum and raisin in the initial taste, which leads all the way through the slight bitter, but quite sweet finish. Steve chose Timothy Taylor's “Boltmaker” a drink he stayed with for the duration in here, as did Dee and Jane, with their choice, Cameron's 3.9% “Gold Bullion”. “Boltmaker” a 4% Best Bitter, is full of roasted maltiness, which leaves a lovely sweetness in the mouth before it dissipates, to be followed by a wonderful bitterness in the finish. The “Golden Bullion” was clean, crisp and refreshing, with citrus and hops coming to the fore. A very good beer, best enjoyed on a hot day, but equally as pleasing on a cooler afternoon in Leeds !

Saturday Evening

After a brief respite, back at our hotel, a few snacks and a brew or two of coffee later, we wandered back out to tick a few more of our pub list. It was a nice evening, but with just a touch more than a hint of chill in the air, but, at least we had missed the forecasted rain.We to be on our way home the next day, around noon, so a big session was to be avoided. Still, here is the last part of our saga in this wonderful real ale drinker's paradise.

The Wardrobe St Peter's Square.
Slightly off the beaten track, next to the BBC, and not far from the Bus Station, this bar, restaurant and music venue is well worth visiting. With craft beers by the bottle, and cask ales from local brewers, alongside fine wines and cocktails, makes for a lovely mix of customers in this friendly, relaxing bar. Vocation Brewery, from Cragg Vale, with the offering of “Bread and Butter” , a 3.9% Pale, with a mild sweetness, pine aroma and a hint of peach, was the drink of choice of Steve, and our partners, which was very smooth and rounded, with a nice dryness in the finish. I opted for “Ro-Sham-Bo” , a 4.2% Session IPA, from Wharfedale Brewery. The taste is a good mix of bitter-sweetness, with tropical fruits and zesty citrus notes. The finish is dry, bitter and very moreish.

Crowd of Favours, Harper Street
A pub not on my list, I don't know why, but firmly on it now. With a shopfront facade, this is a quaint looking premises. Run by Leeds Brewery, the beers are predominately from that brewer's stock, but with several guests alongside. The advertising inside boasted of filmshows, quizzes and various other activities, all on different nights. It seems that never a dull evening is experienced here. Steve, and the Girls topped up with, the, now, much loved Leeds “Pale Ale”, which had been well received all weekend. It is a glass full of good, golden enjoyment. I, initially, went for “Samba”, a fruity Blonde beer, but, unfortunately, it had just gone, so “Mosaic”, a Blonde Ale of 4.3%, from another local brewery, Malton's Brass Castle, in conjunction with North Riding Brewpub, in Scarborough, was my chosen drink. Tropical fruits, including mango, are very evident and the balance between these, and a good hopped bitterness is well balanced, which leads to the dry, bitter and refreshing finish, to make it a very good pint indeed.

The Duck and Drake Kirkgate
This was the pub we had originally headed for , before coming across the Crowd of Favours, dropping anchor for some refreshment, and replotting to find this pub, so we were very pleased to find it just yards away ! We squeezed into the main room, to the strains of Green Day, just managed to get to the end of the bar, next to a good selection of hand-pumps, but, seeing as it was packed in here, with a good band on for entertainment, we were served quite quickly. We ordered our drinks, then retreated to the side room, which also carried a full array of beer pumps. A place with great vibes. Our beers were a pint and a half each of Elland “Blonde”, a 4% Blonde Ale, which was dry, quite aromatic, with a hint of pine, reasonably bitter, with floral notes, Slightly Foxed Brewing's “Prairie Fox”, an American style Pale Ale, with a spiced fruitiness, citrus and dryness in the finish. Quite light tasting for it's 5.2%. Our second round in here, much reflected the first, except I went for the Acorn “Arcade”, a 4.5% Golden Ale. Floral, with a hint of lime and citrus greets the palate, but then a lovely sweet maltiness is there to temper it. A well rounded and, by the number opting for it at the bar, quite popular beer.

We left here to find some food. No Subway, no McDonald's, and chippy Fish and Chips were to be frowned upon. Kebabs ? Oh no way. Tonight we were making our way to Mr Oliver's place “Jamie's Italian” The food here is very nice, and, after ordering our various meals, I went for Fritto Misto, a fish and shellfish dish, flash fried, with a chunky tartare sauce, and, of course, a side of chunky chips (so, I suppose I got my Fish and Chips in the end, even if it wasn't the traditional !) We all enjoyed our food here, it is qwell worth the visit, and it serves Leeds Brewery beers by the bottle. What more could you ask for.
On reflection, our experience of Leeds was just fantastic. Real Ale, Craft and Keg in every pub we visited. We experienced over 40 different brews between us, with very few disappointments. I, along with my band of boozers, cannot wait to return, visiting, maybe, a few more pubs not yet ticked, along with those already mentioned. Leeds. Thank you for your hospitality. Until the next time.
Cheers and keep it “Real”

Monday, 3 August 2015

The Leeds Pub Crawl. Part One.

We had been looking forward to our weekend away in Leeds for ages. Jane and I, along with our good friends, Steve and Dee,travelled to Yorkshire's biggest city on a Friday, staying at the Travelodge, in Vicar Lane, for 2 nights. I had been to the City a few times in the past, but, usually, the only pubs I would have visited would have been the ones nearest the Football Ground. Now, it was time for a good sniff around the many bars within the City centre. My original foray into the Real Ale outlets available led me to a list of over 50. Hmm. Beermonsters have their limits. Liver transplants were not an option we were looking at. After digging through the t'interweb, and asking my friends on Twitter and Google +, I managed to get a short list down to 20 pubs. Of these, during our three sessions across the weekend, we managed 17 of them, AND added 2 more! Not bad at all. Above all, though, we had a fantastic couple of days in a brilliant city, which caters for all, whether you are shopping, drinking or eating. We did all three. Our return is eagerly anticipated. I have tried to encapsulate our little trip around here in chronological order of our pub crawl, with a little intro of the boozers and taverns discovered, and the delicacies partaken within. I know some will think we missed out on the best, or not agree with my comments, but hey ho, such is the life of a beer blogger. So, if you are ready, here we go.

Friday Afternoon and Night.

The Templar Hotel 2 Templar Street.
1st knockings in The
Templar Hotel
Situated just off The Headrow, and opposite the Travelodge in Vicar Lane, this was a good starting point. The selection is pretty impressive, and there is the offer of 10% off for card carrying CAMRA members. This is an old style boozer, and among with the many hand-pumps, there was, probably, a similar number of screens dotted around the pub, all showing various sports, but there doesn't seem to be any conflicts between those dedicated to the 2-30 at Kempton and those with a thirst for good beer. Our choices in here were Empire Brewery “Moonraker Mild” at 3.8% , a sweet, nutty and quite chocolate flavoured example of this style, with quite a dry finish, and one I really enjoyed. Leeds “Pale Ale” was Steve's tipple, another a 3.8%, and a good session beer, with a light, but noticeably, hoppy taste, leading through to floral notes. We would all become quite familiar with this well balanced classic, with a medium bitterness in the finish. The ladies went for Moorhouse's “Blonde Witch”, a Golden Ale of 4.5%, with a fruity smoothness throughout. The finish is quite bitter and zesty, but tempered well with a hint of sweetness.

The Swan, Swan Street
Just tucked away off Briggate, this Leeds Brewery run pub is very modern in décor, and displays a good range of beers, available in 1/3 pint tasters. This is more Wine Bar, in looks, than traditional Public House, and, despite the variety on the bar, the quality of some of the beers were not so good, with one beer, the Leeds Pale, having to be returned. Steve and I went for the aforementioned tasters, with Leeds “Midnight Bell”, Marble “Earl Grey IPA” and Leeds “Pale Ale” being in his original line-up, whilst Sonnet 43's “American Pale Ale” and “Steam Beer” sat alongside a Marston's “Saphir Single Hop Amber Ale” on my tray. The half pints were both Leeds “Pale Ale”, but, unfortunately, these had to be changed, as was Steve's, for the same brewers “Yorkshire Gold”. The “Midnight Bell” a 4.8% Mild, was heavy on the dark malts, with a lovely chocolate notes through to the medium dry and bitter finish, the “Earl Grey” was very full of fruitiness, with orange and grapefruit mixing with tropical fruit and, of course, tea. Truly American in style. The “Yorkshire Gold” is quite light in taste, but with a good background of malt. The finish is citrus and very satisfying. The Sonnet “APA”, 5.4% had a vein of spiciness running through the apricot and biscuity body, with a hint of floral. A satisfying but not too punchy American Pale, whereas the slight fruit,toffee and citrus flavours and thin body of the “Steam Beer”, at 3.8%, although a reasonable session beer, just lacked that little extra. “Saphir' Single Hop”, with a caramel sweetness, spice and tangy hop hints, was quite enjoyable.

The Ship Hotel, Ship Yard, off Briggate.
Another pub, sited just off the main street by an alleyway. A great Olde Worlde atmosphere oozes through this pub, from the nautical based wooded décor, through to the cosiness of the outside drinking area. The beer selection is, I was told, usually around half a dozen, and Cask Marque accredited. The clientele is an easy mix of locals, shoppers and beer hunters, and there is a genuine friendliness in the air. In here we all chose the Leeds Brewery “Pale Ale”, to get over the disappointment of the previous tavern. It was excellently dispensed and tasted fresh, light and extremely satisfying, as it should. This is a pub worth looking out for.

The New Conservatory, Albion Place
The bar here is in the cellar, or should I say Basement, but when you are in here, it is no dark dingy and airless place. The decorations are Art Deco, and quite pleasing on the eye. Not a vast beer selection, but the beer we sampled was very well kept. Another pub worth digging out, with the street furniture and facade giving the looks more akin to a cafe. Our beer selection was the 4.3% Leeds “Best Bitter”, a Yorkshire Bitter to savour, with rich a malt taste perfectly balancing the hoppiness, and leading to a refreshing bitterness. There ain't many better.

The Pack Horse, Pack Horse Lane, Briggate.
A good selection in the Pack Horse
This pub vies for the title of Leeds' Oldest, and is very popular, with a number of local ales on tap, and real cider too. It is the sort of place to happily take a breather from retail therapy, or to use as a man crèche if the shops are too much of a distraction. The selection in here is also good, and we counted 7 cask Ales and Orchard pig Cider on the crowded bar. There is quite a bit of room inside, as well as an outside/smokers area in the adjoining alleyway. In here, our order was a pint each of Purity Brewing's “ Pure Ubu”, a Premium Amber Ale of 4.5%, and Castlesford's Revolutions Brewery's “Clash London Porter”, also 4.5%, along with halves of Copper Dragon's “Golden Pippin”, for T'other 'Arf and the 4.2% Golden Ale, Purity “Mad Goose” for Dee. Steve's “Pure Ubu” was full on with maltiness and fruits, sweet, but dry in the finish. A beer that is deceptively smooth. My “Clash London Porter” had a wonderful aroma of coffee, bread and a touch of chocolate, which carried on into the taste of this medium bodied Ale. It is well balanced and has a vein of bitter sweetness throughout. A good beer of this style. After what we believe was a touch of “slight of hand” magic, or just downright cheek by T'other 'Arf, it appears that the other two drinks got swapped on their arrival at our table ! The “Mad Goose” was a refreshing, zesty Golden Ale, with smooth and dry finish. The “Golden Pippin”, with it's sweeter fruitiness and slight bitter finish, also carried noticeable floral hints. All in all, 4 excellently brewed beers.

Whitelocks , Turks Head Yard, Briggate.
Another goldmine of an Alehouse. We arrived to find a beer festival taking place. Their were more beers than you could shake a stick at, and plenty of punters tasting the wares. Unfortunately, we waited far too long for service, and, on enquiring when it would be our turn, received a very short and rudely delivered retort from one of the bar staff. Another member of staff eventually served us, with politeness, but first impressions ? Not what we expected. This was a real shame from, what otherwise was, a superb boozer. The beers chosen were Ridgeside “Black Night”, another good solid Porter, of 5%, which had a more fruity taste than some, with rich liquorice and chocolate notes giving way to burnt caramel, but bitter dry finish, and Timothy Taylor “Landlord”, 4.3%, which tasted, well, just like “Landlord” should do. Slight fruit gives way to a real nice hoppiness, and citrus notes delicately cut through, making it a really good, and award winning beer. We had hoped to sample Kirkstall “Pale Ale”, but it had gone off, which was a pity.

The Griffin, Boar Lane.
This was not on my original list of pubs to visit, but one look inside persuaded us otherwise. This street corner pub, part of the Taylor Walker estate, has a strange, but interesting, layout, and can become rather crowded. The designers have gone for part traditional, part tube-station and a touch of canteen, but, somehow, it works ! With two permanent and, up to, 4 guest beers, this is quite a good show on the pumps. The beers we chose in here were the “Taylor Walker 1730 Special Pale Ale”, brewed for the company by Westerham Brewery, and “Chinook Blonde”, 4.2%, from Keighley Goose Eye Brewery. “Chinook” is a very light tasting Ale, with hints of malt, citrus and slight grassy tones, but the finish is a big dry and bitter punch. It is a good Summer beer, and the finish, very refreshing. The 4% “1730” had a rather fruity hint to the main malt body, which slowly leads you a medium dry and zesty finish. Both beers were well worth our diversion from “The List”

The Atlas King Street.
This pub is a 5 minute amble away from the main drinking area, but worth the trip. It has a good range of World Craft beers, Wines and Spirits, along with a selection of local Cask beers. The feel is slightly wine bar, as is the look, but, it is certainly not pretentious. We found it a very comfortable and friendly bar, and the staff are very knowledgeable and courteous. We chose two Atlas beers in here,brewed by Halifax Brewers Stod Fold and Saltaire. These were, respectively, “Gold” 3.8%, a straw coloured light coloured Ale which is very smooth to drink, with zesty hints and medium bitterness, and “Blonde” 4.8%. This was a touch drier, but equally nice, with a more noted and rounded maltiness. “Barnsley Bitter”, from the Stancil brewery, 3.8% of lovely malt sweetness making it have a creamy feel in the mouth. The bitterness is good and well balanced, a great session beer, and Ilkley “Summer” were also sampled. “Summer” is a Golden Ale of 4%, which is full of fruit flavours. Mango,Pineapple and orange were detected by us, with hints of vanilla too. A touch complex, but, nonetheless, very quaffable indeed.

Mr Foley's Cask Ale House. The Headrow
A great line-up of York Brewery beers.
The first York Brewery owned house outside of York, with an excellent selection of the brewery's beers on show, along with several guest ales. It is named after the founder of Pearl Assurance, Patrick James Foley, who started his business on this site, in 1864. The building itself, has a magnificent facade, which gave me visions of the start of Monty Python's “The Meaning of Life”, as the Crimson Permanent Assurance Co building, Edwardian in style, and turned, magically, into a sailing ship, slips anchor, and heads off , after it's oppressed staff rebel against their new owners, and set sail to London city, to wage war against the Very Big Corporation of America........This was my ninth pint I would be necking !! The pub does offer 1/3 pint tasters, but we waded in with our 2, plus 2 halves all the same. Steve, and the two half pinters chose York “Terrier”, the 4.2% Premium Golden Ale, which was refreshing, clean and quite sharp tasting, with a good bitterness, and fruit and citrus tones cutting through. I opted for York “Otherside IPA”. This was a very fruity Ale, with tropical fruit on the nose and taste. This leads to a quite bitter and dry finish, accompanied by wonderful pine hints. Not a lot of sweetness in this 5.4% brew, but very nice, all the same.

As we left here, food seemed top of the agenda for my companions. “I'm having a Subway, Don't try and stop me” stated Steve. Through supressed laughter, his T'other 'arf, Dee, said “What ever, have what you want”. “No, I'm having a Sub, don't try and talk me out of it” So, it was agreed. Steve was having a Subway meal. Dee, eventually, decided on McDonald's, to which my T'other Arf took a liking to. “What you having ?” was the main question to me by our little group. “Me ?” I responded, “Another pint. I'm off to find another pub !”. So, bravely, I ventured forth, with no provisions, just a crumpled beer map in hand, to find the last pub on tonight's list.

The Veritas Ale & Wine Bar Great George Street.
The name says it all, really. On the outside, this looks more like a shopfront than a drinking house. Inside, four seperate areas, interlinked, greet you. It is a nice, relaxing place, with a reasonable beer selection, friendly staff and comfortable ambience. The beer I chose was Two Roses “Heron Porter”, a Barnsley brewed beer. At 4.2%, and having a lovely chocolate aroma, reflected in the taste, along with burnt caramel, I found it a very smooth beer, and very satisfying. I could have had another in the peaceful surroundings of this tavern, but I was summoned to regroup, back at The Templar, and, who am I to argue.

Although my memories of my last pint, back at the start of our crawl, may be sketchy, I am assured I enjoyed it,whatever was thrust into my sweaty paw, along with the kebab which followed. So came an end to our first night in this great drinking paradise ( I am reliably informed that Steve ventureds out of the hotel a little later that evening for another Subway !) What of tomorrow? Read on.