Category Archives: North Bar

>Kirkstall Land Award

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….Just a quick note to let you all know that Kirkstall Brewery’s Black Band Porterwas crowned ‘Beer of The Festival’ at the Skipton Beer Festival last weekend. Rightly so; it’s a fantastic beer, well balanced and massively tasty. Well done.

I’m sure this will be a regular occurrence for Dave Sanders and his crew, and a sign of things to come for such a new brewery to win an accolade so soon after their inception. You can get Kirkstall’s beers at Mr Foley’s and North if in Leeds. Let me know if I’ve missed any other outlets out.

>SummerWine Take Over The Free Trade Inn

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The Free Trade Inn in Newcastle is being taken over by Yorkshire’s very own Hop-scented upstarts SummerWine Brewery next week (25th-27th). If you’re yet to try James & Andy’s wares and are up that way then do drop by – now’s your chance. My personal recommendation would be Diablo IPA, which has fast become – in my humble opinion – their Flagship beer. However, such treats as Barista, Nerotype and their new Valencia ales will be on offer. In addition, there will be plenty of US-
inspired bottle action and a Meet The Brewer night on the 24th. So, if you’re in Newcastle, you really have no excuse to catch up with one of the country’s most promising brewing outfit. You can follow the Free Trade Inn on Twitter through @TheFreeTradeInn.

Back in Leeds, North have announced their annual Belgian Bier Fest will be kicking off on the 7th April. Expect the usual mind-boggling array of Belgian beauties, along with plenty of cheese and bread (one hopes). North’s festivals are always worth dropping in on.

Finally, as if anyone in Leeds needs reminding – CAMRA’s Leeds Beer Festival is taking place now. If its tips you’re after, I can wholeheartedly recommend Hopstar’s Smokey Joe Black Beer and Thornbridge’s Chiron. Leeds’s Gyle 479 was sitting in wooden glory amongst the rows of plastic and steel, and the beer was excellent; with a much more pungent, rum/whisky-esque nose than the plummy delights of the bottled version. I understand this has now run out, but I think there are still some bottles kicking around.

>BrewDog Single Hop IPA Launch

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BrewDog will be launching their new Single-Hopped IPA range Wednesday (16th Feb) at North. The new range is esentially the same base beer with four single hopped versions available: Citra, Bramling Cross, Nelson Sauvin or Sorachi Ace. North will be presenting them with thier hops for comparison and I’m sure they will go do down a treat with hop-heads (with the beers weighing in a 75b IBU’s each) and BrewDog fans alike.

>Cask vs Keg vs Bottle vs Can

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The Session: It’s like a Royal Rumble of dispense.
This argument has been rumbling on for a while, and I doubt that I’m going to add anything meaningful to it apart from my own point of view. However, seeing as though one of my favourite blogs, Reluctant Scooper is hosting the session, I thought I’d wade in. Hey, that’s what the blog’s for, so here goes.
Firstly – Bottle vs Can. Along with the true identity of Jack the Ripper, or why people ever rated Rafa Benitez, one of the true mysteries of life is why brewers put beer in clear glass bottles. It simply makes for a badly-kept beer, and one that tastes, no matter what beer it is, like all other beers in clear glass. Skunky. Harsh. Oxidised. Yuck. In the grand scheme of things, putting beer into cans holds no great pain for me; I’ve tried a few average US Pale Ales in cans and enjoyed not only the novelty, but the taste of the beer too. Some purists argue that the can taints the beer; let’s get glass right first, eh? Bring on Canning, I say. My view will stay that way until I drink a beer that’s genuinely been ruined by canning – the process, that is.

As for Keg…well, I have to agree with what Zak says in so much as that I’d like to think it’s horses for courses; some beers suit being Keg-Dispensed, some not so. The turning point for me was when I took a trip to Edinburgh in 2009 and enjoyed a pint of BrewDog 77 Lager on cask at The Abbotsford. Lovely it was; but at the time – for the first time, I might add – that flash of ‘might be better served in Keg’ came across my mind. Since then, there have been many beers that I’ve enjoyed on Keg, and those that I wish I had enjoyed on Keg – such as SummerWine’s Project 6 IPA series. I know Andy and James are pro-Keg, but I really believe this. Powerful, aromatic beers that do well slightly colder are great on Keg, as are excellent lagers such as all-time-fave Moravka and, more recently, Thornbridge Italia. Foley’s Brewdog tap and North’s constant Keg presence means we are sorted in Leeds, and The Grove (Huddersfield) unashamedly flaunts Keg as a dispense system for their US range; and that’s not even mentioning BrewDog Aberdeen’s all-Keg lineup. It’s popular, and that’s just here. When I open the West Coast Good Beer Guide, and am flicking the pages, gazing upon row upon row of Keg taps, I’m slightly romanced by it. It’s not a fad, and there’s no need to be scared of it. It’s just another option.
Old Peculier from the wood? Stouts, lush, velvety Porters, fruity Ales and Brown Ales? Give me cask. Summer Ales, Weiss, Wits and Pales at a Summer Barbecue? Chill those bottles. The best dispense system for any beer is surely the one that suits it the most.
…By the way, if you’ve got the Good Beer US West Coast, flick to Page 97 and check out the Maiden Publick House. That’s what I dream of: a bar in woods, with neon signs in the window and a shitload of great beer. If I win the lottery, that’s what I’m buying. You’re all invited.

>Porkslappin’ @ North

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North started their annual U.S Beer Fest today, and with it being Friday and all, I moseyed on down for an extended lunch and a little look-see at what was on offer. A tip-off via Twitter (presumably from the ever-helpful Matt) had alerted me to the presence of Butternut Brewing’s Porkslap Ale – a beer that I’d been curious about since declaring it ‘Quite possibly the best name for a beer ever’ a few months back. A Tad frivolous maybe, but I was genuinely interested.

So, this lunchtime, here it was, sitting in front of me in all it’s porcine glory. The can was snapped open, the beer was poured, and I’m happy to report….It’s all right. Not ground-breaking or anything; but I don’t think Butternuts claim it to be. Taste-wise, it’s along the lines of Brooklyn Lager, only much less complex; toffee-led malt and that familiar boiled sweet/candi sugar rule the body, and there’s not much hop complexity save for a quick, dry bitterness at the end. I could drink a couple more, anyway. Or is that just because it’s canned; some kind of subliminal message to chug? Anyhoo – mission accomplished. Porkslap….slapped.

North’s US beer fest range gets better every year; we seem to have moved on from the household names of Sierra Nevada and Anchor, and those importers and suppliers are coming up with the goods. Brewers like Odell, Flying Dog & Dogfish Head are becoming more and more ubiquitous (and deservedly so, I might add, in Odell’s case) and my notes of the bottles in the fridge make for an impressive list; Great Divide, Big Sky, Buckbean, Moylans, Tommyknocker, Green Flash, Uncommon and Victory all sit, waiting to be sampled. Add to that the likes of SN Bigfoot, Stone IPA, Left Hand Stout and Brooklyn Lager on draught (Brooklyn’s a regular at North now), and you’ve got a new set of choices for your weekend.
In fact, your hardest choice will be deciding simply what to try. The Grove in Huddersfield have also extended thier bar range to include a number of U.S gems. Here’s A Swift One’s thoughts on the matter….

>2009 Review

>Well, it’s that time of year when I cast my mind back to what we’ve tasted, seen, and cried our way through in 2009.

My Blog of the Year spot goes to Thornbridge’s brewer’s blog. I like the simple design; the articles are always interesting and present a nice mix of brewing inside-knowledge, know-how, and personal experience. As a budding microbrewer myself, this aspect really interests me – I’ve really enjoyed following thier exploits in brewing and running a growing business throughout the year. For me, Kelly and the gang are always happy to share their experiences, which is again sometimes lacking in the brewer/blogger relationship. Blogging should be embraced by brewers – we are, after all, the beer drinkers that take time to shout from the rooftops our love of their product. And I do love Thornbridge’s beers – to me, they represent a vibrant, young, questing set of brewers who represent this country at the highest level. British Brewing dull? Not these guys. So well done, Thornbridge, and I look forward to drinking in 2010 with you – mine’s a pint of Kipling.

Other honourable mentions go to the ever-excellent Boak & Bailey, Zak Avery’s YouTube Vlogs (still effortlessly head and shoulders above the rest – and apologies for not making the TNP tasting – I was busy failing my driving test) and The Beer Nut, which is consistently engaging and honest.
My Beer Venue of the Year award goes to Pivo, a great beer bar in the middle of York. I’ve always said that York is a real hotbed of great, solid English pubs and beer – and having a little slice of international craft beer on the scene ices the cake, really. It’s very small, but perfectly formed. I’m going to find it hard to visit York without dropping in from now on.
Kudos to Leeds Brewery for opening The Brewery Tap, which brews its own Leodis Lager on site. I’m not massively enamoured of the beer, but I like the idea. What about a Koelsch for the summer, guys?

Beer of the Year – always a tricky one. This year I’m copping out with a tied #1 spot for Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch – which managed to be the hoppiest beer I think I’ll ever drink and yet retain excellent balance – and Nogne-O’s IPA – another masterclass in balance between hops and body. Thanks for the memories, guys.
Also memorable were Dark Horse’s Hetton Pale, Orkney’s Red Macgregor, Dogfish Head’s Johnny Cask, Taddington’s Moravka, Sleeman’s IPA, Stone’s Levitation Ale ,Meantime’s London Pale and Young’s Special London Ale, which I am finding is taking my addiction to one type of beer to a whole new level. Wonderful beers, them all.

Beer Event of the Year goes, without a doubt, to Flying Dog’s tasting, which happened at The Cross Keys in September. The full post is here but it made such a nice change to go a well run event, with great hosting by James Brophy, and meet so many great people who are passionate about beer. Thanks again to all involved. North’s Orval & Cheese day was random-yet-inspired, and The Barge and The Owl in Rodley ran their annual beer & music festival to even greater numbers than last year, proving that the appetite for family-oriented community beer events is still there. Well done, lads.

Next Year? Well, more of the same I hope. I’m getting married in September, and my honeymoon will take in Milan, Florence, Venice and Verona – so I’m hoping to finally fill that black hole I have in my knowledge about Italian Craft beer. If anyone has any pointers for me, drop me an email. Can’t wait.

>Meet The Brewer: Matt Brophy & Flying Dog

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I was lucky enough to be invited down to The Cross Keys last night for a rare chance to meet Matt Brophy of Flying Dog, their Senior VP and Head Brewer. Events like this can often go the way of Beer Festivals; when done right, they can be great chances to meet people you admire and sample beer in a great setting; when done wrong they can be horrid, soulless, corporate junkets. Luckily, this event was done right. Good Beer, Good Food, and Good People.

Firstly, Matt turned out to be a genial and knowledgeable host – positively dripping with enthusiasm, he guided us non-stop through pretty much most of FD’s beers (details of which you can find on thier site rather than me list them all here), feeding us comments on origins, ingredients and other minutiae that beer nerds like us love, whilst we drank and nodded sagely. Matt discovered brewing through the writing of US homebrew legend Charlie Papazian, and decided that a life in barley and hops was for him. After some formal brewing education he made the trip from New Jersey to Colorado and, after a stint at Great Divide Brewing, ended up at Flying Dog.

After a small introduction to the brewery and the legend of George Stranahan, we moved onto the beers; in order, the Woody Creek Wit started us off, but in my opinion was shaded slightly by the arrival of In-Heat Wheat – tons of banana and phenols on the nose, and a wonderfully smooth, almost Almondy aftertaste makes this one of my favourite FD beers. Thier flagship Doggy Style Pale Ale gave us that benchmark US Craft brew taste right off the bat – boiled candy in the body and floral yet bitter Cascade hops dominating everything else. Old Scratch Amber Lager proved to be a sweeter variation on the same theme. Tire Biter Golden Ale was an interesting one; very pale for US standards and with a slightly belgian horseblanket aroma offset with peppery hops, it paired up very nicely indeed with the Seared Scallop that accompanied it.

I found the Garde Dog a little uninspiring, and Road Dog Porter, albeit very tasty and with smoke and chocolate in all the right places, seemed very pale indeed to what should constitute Porter in my mind. However, Kerberos Tripel soon revitalised my taste buds – what a great beer. Sweet, with a nice belgian malt complexity and earthy aroma, this was one beer that I didn’t want to stop drinking. But I had to, as the Horn Dog Barley Wine and Double Dog IPA’s arrived. Horn Dog, although very sweet indeed, proved to be a lot smoother and more restrained than I thought it would be, and the Double Dog IPA did what it said on the tin – this was one huge IPA. Dogtoberfest provided more of that smooth, easy drinking craft beer that FD do very well when not running off to the limits.

The beers just kept getting bigger. Gonzo Imperial Porter took me back to my first taste of FD all those years ago, and matched perfectly with the little slice of coffee ice-cream that accompanied it. As the night wore on, and the volume in the room increased, a couple of really special beers rounded off the night. Dog-Schwarz, a smoked double lager, was a revelation – I’m not a big fan of smoked beers at all but this was balanced so well, it’s kind of made me think that I need to reappraise smoked beers. Wonderful stuff.

I asked Matt whether he was planning to commemorate the fifth Anniversary of Hunter S Thompson’s death in February – he told us that although that wasn’t decided yet, they did have their own milestone – a 20th Anniversary, marked by Raging Bitch (gotta love those names) – which, as if by magic, appeared at our hands. The lady sitting next to me exclaimed it to be a true ‘Breakfast Beer’ – and upon sipping, I could see why. Pure, pure grapefruit – on top of a massively sweet, almost cloudy body. I guess it’s an IPA with a belgian twist – almost like loading Orval with a shot of IPA and masses of hops, if that makes sense – but if FD continue to produce this, then the world could be facing an Amarillo hop shortage pretty soon. The aroma was something else, and I’ve never come across anything so fruity in a beer without it being a fruit beer!

A great night, all in all. Tasting the majority of FD’s beers in one go like this has given me more of a sense of who they are, and their identity – which is what these events should do, but so often fail to do. My drinking partner, relatively new to the world of beer, came away a firm fan, and that’s one more guy buying good beer. Our thanks go to FD, North, The Cross Keys (particularly the waiting and kitchen staff who were, quite honestly, amazing) and James Clay for landing such a coup. Let’s do it again sometime.

>North’s US BeerFest

>My drinking has had a distinctly American feel to it this week with North Bar bringing over baskets of US Beers for us to taste. And taste we did.
First up, Flying Dog’s In Heat Wheat. This must be one of the few Flying Dog Ales I’ve not yet tried, to so get hold of it on draught was a great opportunity. Pleasantly refreshing without being cloying, it had a smooth, banana taste at first that soon mellowed even further, leaving a little bit of Marzipan behind. Very tasty, and very moreish. Next up, the much-lauded Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA – or ‘Johnny Cask’, as it’s more commonly known (Click here to find out more about the Johnny Cask System). I really enjoyed this – yes, it was a blend of the 65 and 90 Minute IPA’s so you kind of know what to expect – but still managed to become something different. Smooth, with only a little alcohol warmth at the end, and a balanced (although very fresh) hoppiness running through it. There’s a real malty sweetness to it too, but it remains citrussy and not too cloying.


Victory Prima Pils next – although I have to be honest and say I didn’t really think it was too Pils-y. It was decent though – lots of earthiness on the nose, and a high, astringent hop bite at the end of a long sip. Again, quite a fresh taste, although quite sweet. Interesting, and something I think I would try again; although I personally thought it had more in common with a Kolsch on steroids.
Sierra Nevada’s Smoked Porter finished my week-long tasting, with a subtle smokiness and chocolate to coat the tongue. With a bottle of Rogue Dead Guy Ale waiting for me at home, I will continue my US-Centric drinking well into next week, I reckon.

>Saturday Night

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After sitting in The Scarbrough Taps a few weeks back and noticing a steady stream of people coming out of newly-opened Ephesus Mangal, I resolved to visit – and I’m glad I did, because I suspect that many people simply don’t know its there.

Ephesus Mangal is basic; don’t get me wrong. But many of the best places to eat are, (Jino’s Thai cafe in Headingley is a good example) and you should be visiting for the food anyway – not the location or the decor. The food is basic too – but delicious. Essentially a Turkish grillhouse, the smell of smoke and sizzling meat gets your stomach rumbling as soon as you sit; if you’ve holidayed in the Med recently you know the scent straight away.

So, onto the food. A mixed salad of olives, bread and a deceptively hot tomato, pepper and parsley salsa sets us off, and the hummus that arrives shortly thereafter is perfect; lemony and garlicy in equal porportion. Filo pastries, rolled and stuffed with feta cheese before being deep-fried, were light despite being fried and incredibly moreish. The main courses arrived presented simply with salad and rice: kofte meatballs and chicken wings, charcoal grilled to perfection. How can you not be pleased with grilled meats?


There’s no license, so bring your own (Birra Moretti for me, thanks), and I would advise booking – we were eating relatively early but saw quite a few people get turned away. The meal for two cost £25 in total, which I was more than happy with; the service was a little rushed but seeing as though the waiter was working alone I think he did more than well enough! Ephesus Mangal – recommended.

Then it was on to North for a cheeky Outlaw Wrangler (on form as usual, very long, bitter and with a tropical fruit hit beyond belief) and then we joined a birthday celebration at The Reform, where draught Anchor Steam flowed copiously and rounded off a very pleasant night out.
Ephesus Mangal
88 Bishopgate Street, Leeds
Tel; 0113 2438567

>Oktoberfest @ North

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TGS’ favourite Beer Bar flies the Oktoberfest (yes – I know it’s actually in October) flag. Check it out – You know it makes sense.
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