Category Archives: leeds brewery
When Leeds Brewery announced they were rescuing The Garden Gate in Hunslet from dereliction, a cheer went up across the Leeds beer community. It seemed like a match made in heaven, and one that was warmly welcomed at the time – but, a few months on, has it worked?
After spending an entirely pleasant lunch there, my answer would be a resounding yes. I’ll be honest – I’d never been here before. I’d been aware of the building’s importance in Leeds folklore as one of the original Tetley Heritage houses -built in 1903 and grade-two listed – and seen many a picture of its outstanding tiled facade, but it had remained just that bit too far out of town for me to venture toward. I won’t make that mistake again.
The building is jaw-droppingly beautiful, and my pictures don’t do it justice. There’s a warmth to the building that invites you to venture inside – and that is partly down to its new owners, who have kitted the bar out with Leeds’s solid, ever-dependable beer range, and wisely kept every feature about the pub intact, creating an incredibly welcoming atmosphere. Not that they’ve had much choice – the mosaic floor, the tilled bar, the acid-etched glass partitions; before, you would go in just to gawp at the tilework – now there’s a quality of beer to be had, too. It’s a deceptively large pub, and has one bar serving two rooms. Leeds Pale, Midnight Bell, and Best were on (and all in excellent condition, I might add), along with one guest Leeds beer per month and a couple of guests – Tetley’s Dark Mild and, on this occasion, Lancaster Blonde.
As I sat with my beer and chatted with the new hosts, Adam and Ciara, the one thing that struck me was the reverence for the building. Yes, they are young; but they are more that aware of the history of the pub, and the task they have on their hands. Currently working all hours, the two (and their entrancing dog, Diesel) are committed to making this work. Previous pub companies have treated the GG with a fraction of the respect it deserves, and Leeds, along with Adam and Ciara, seem determined to make sure that isn’t that case again. Given the situation, I don’t think Leeds could have given the task to a more suitable couple.
This attitude epitomises how I feel about Leeds Brewery.
Through buying up a varied selection of pubs and bars across Leeds, they’ve catered for all tastes and become firm fixtures in Leeds’s drinking circuit. The Midnight Bell may be full of modern, clean lines, but it’s still an old-fashioned ale-house at heart. Pin may tout cocktails and music as its USP, but it bears well-used pumps for Pale and Midnight Bell. And as for the Brewery Tap – well, it does have the cities’ only on-site lagering facility (when it’s up and running), and is always a good bet for a decent pint before that train home. Despite producing solid, dependable beer, Leeds have been quietly buying up an eclectic range of premises in which to enjoy them in – and for that, they should be praised.
What you have here is one of the most unique drinking experiences in Leeds. A building that has to be seen to be fully appreciated. Sure, it’s all of four bus stops outside Leeds, but it’s no excuse at all – visit the Garden Gate for a beer, and you’ll have drunk in a rich part of Leeds’s beer heritage. Catch it while you can – the BBC are filming here later in the year, and there’s a tour of the building next month for Yorkshire Heritage. This is one of Leeds’s most important pubs, and there’s no reason for you to ignore it now.
To give you a snapshot of what might happen when you do ignore buildings like this, here’s a shot of the once-proud Sun Inn on Kirkstall Road – a sister pub to the Garden Gate, if you will. It hasn’t served cask ale for a while, and now the pubco in charge of it has seen fit to let some bloke sell furniture out of it. A sad end to a building of genuine importance. I don’t claim to be a saint – I haven’t set foot in the place in years – but the pub companies have got to give us a reason to go in the first place. Leeds have done that and more with The Garden Gate – maybe The Sun Inn is ripe for a rescue?
I got to The Garden Gate on the No 12 Bus, caught outside the Corn Exchange. Once in Hunslet (about ten minute’s journey), get off at Morrison’s, and go across the small courtyard to the right of the shopping centrereach the pub – it is hidden away somewhat. There’s a good source of information about The Garden Gate, The Sun Inn, and a number of local Heritage pubs here. Visit the pub’s website for further details of promotions, opening hours etc.
Belatedly, here are the CAMRA Winter Ales Festival/Champion Winter Beer of Britain award winners:
Old Ales and Strong Milds –
Gold– Breconshire, Ramblers Ruin (Brecon, Powys)
Silver– Leeds, Midnight Bell (Leeds, West Yorkshire)
Bronze- Beartown, Black Bear (Congleton, Cheshire)
Gold- Elland, 1872 Porter (Elland, West Yorkshire)
Silver– Sulwath, Black Galloway (Castle Douglas, Dumfries & Galloway)
Bronze– RCH, Old Slug Porter (Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset)
Gold – Acorn, Gorlovka Imperial Stout (Barnsley, South Yorkshire)
Silver- Beowulf, Dragon Smoke Stout (Brownhills, Staffordshire)
Bronze- Wapping, Stout (Liverpool, Merseyside)
Gold- Robinsons, Old Tom (Stockport, Cheshire)
Silver- Kinver, Over the Edge (Kinver, Staffordshire)
Bronze- Otley, O8 (Pontypridd, Mid Glamorgan)
OVERALL -Gold- Elland, 1872 Porter (Elland, West Yorkshire)
Silver- Breconshire, Ramblers Ruin (Brecon, Powys)
Bronze- Acorn, Gorlovka Imperial Stout (Barnsley, South Yorkshire)
A big well done to Elland for thier silky porter. Deserved, I think. Nice to see (blatant nepotism aside) Leeds’ Midnight Bell getting kudos. I’ve maintained since day one that although Pale probably is more popular, Midnight Bell is Leeds’ best beer by far. And, for personal taste, I would have rated Otley’s masterful 08 a little higher. But that’s just me.
I like The Brewery Tap, I really do. The latest addition to Leeds’ Brewery’s stable, I find it more welcoming than The Midnight Bell, more authentic than Pin. It sort of sits in the middle of those two, not really a bar, not really a pub.
I think it’s more of a brewpub – although with only a small brewhouse upstairs, which produces lager. Yep, that’s right – Lager.
Launched on St George’s Day, Leodis is brewed on-site, and in a lot of ways represents Leeds’s ability to tap into what’s popular right now. Well, with me, anyway. I didn’t really know quality lager existed in the UK (If it wasn’t Pilsner Urquell then I wasn’t interested) until my head-turning epiphany with Taddington’s Moravka, so this came at the right time. And The Brewery Tap is a fine place to drink it in – if you indeed want to choose it over the Midnight Bell.
Anyway, I was here for the lager. Incredibly lively, with a big buttery nose, it certainly smelled interesting. After the big citrus kick, the flavour mellows out somewhat, leaving a flinty, dry finish that reminded me of Dortmunder Union or a much less hoppy Jever. However, I fear that this won’t replace the lager-drinker’s tipple of choice too soon. Why? This is a big beer. 4.6% abv, there’s a lot of flavour packed in there, and it was incredibly fizzy. In short, not something I would deem too sessionable. But then again, like I said above; maybe I don’t give ‘Lager drinkers’ enough credit.
However – that’s just me. If people switch from Peroni or Beck’s onto Leodis, then surely that is a result. Who knows, maybe they’ll go from that to the Leeds Pale, and from then on it’s onwards and upwards; and it’s not all about ‘converting people’ either – Leeds are brewing something a little different, and serving it a lot colder than usual. Brewing something new is good.
The Brewery Tap. 18 New Station Street, Leeds. 0113 2434414
Late last year I wrote about a visit to The Fox & Newt – and it proved to be a popular post; it would seem the brewpub had a lot of admirers from the 70’s up until recent times.
I feared, however, that the article was somewhat of a kiss of death – not long after I visited, it closed. Again. This was becoming a little like deja vu.
I’m pleased to report that The Fox is up and running – and hopefully for good this time. I enjoyed a relaxed lunch there this week, and spent a little time chatting to Emma, the manager, about what happened before and her plans for the pub.
It all sounds great; firstly- and most importantly – the brewery will be back in early 2009 – although not under the Fox and Newt moniker due to the usual legal wrangles. Recipes have been formulated, gear has been tested and tweaked and a talented bunch of brewers seems to have been assembled. Watch this space for more – I can’t stress how much of an event this should be. After all, you can count on the fingers of one hand genuine brewpubs in the vast space of Yorkshire – and there are none in Leeds. A true cause for celebration.
As for the pub itself – well, it’s been updated, sure – the walls are now painted and the floors scrubbed but the pub-feel has been retained, as had (thank christ) the tiled fireplace in the side room. Emma’s keen to point out that this is a pub – and one focused on beer and lots of it. There are no alcopops in the fridge. There are only two lagers on sale. The beer -chalkboard was updated twice in the hour is was there, and there’s even tasting notes for the beer available at the bar.
The beer selection is good – Leeds Pale is always on, and in fine form, I might add – as was the Adnams Broadside that shored me up for the rapidly declining temperatures outside. Others on offer were Leeds’ Hellfire, Black Sheep, Elland’s Eden and Brain’s Top Notch. Emma proudly counted off the beers from York, Elland, Abbeydale and many other local breweries sitting in the cellar, waiting to be supped.
The food looked good – homemade and good value – and I’ll be certainly visiting again. The Fox is (as it always has been) a good pub – one slightly out of town, but one that is worth the five minute walk up towards Park Lane. It’s run by an energetic and proud bunch of people, who truly want you to enjoy good beer. And hopefully, it’ll be beer that they have brewed themselves in the not-too distant future.
The Fox & Newt
Open from 12 midday every day.
9 Burley Street,Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS3 1LD
Chocolate, Cherry and Brazil Nut Brownies
You will need:
250g Dark Chocolate – at least 70% cocoa solids
300g Golden Caster Sugar
60g Plain Flour
65g Good Cocoa Powder
Half a teaspoon of baking powder
Eggs – 3, plus an extra yolk, beaten together.
About 20 glace cherries, chopped
10 Large Brazils, chopped.
1. Pre-heat your oven to 180c, and grease and line the bottom of a baking tin with baking paper.
2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together well, set aside.
3. Smash your chocolate into chunks and put ¾ or it into a bowl over some simmering water. Gradually this will melt. As soon as it is melted, remove from the heat.
4. In another bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt. Add to this your beaten eggs gradually, and when you have a good paste, you can add the melted chocolate and chocolate pieces.
5. Add the nuts and cherries, and then combine the mixture with your sugar and butter.
6. Dollop the mixture into the tin, and bake for 30-40 minutes. The edges will slightly come away, but the middle will be softer. It’s ready when a skewer put through the middle comes away cleanly.
7. Leave to cool – at least a couple of hours – before slicing.
When enjoyed with the beer, the brownie accentuates the chocolate and roast-nuttiness of the brownies – why not add a little coffee and try that with a smoked porter? Chocolate and Beer – two of life’s pleasures in one hit.