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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”