Category Archives: The Midnight Bell

>The Garden Gate, Hunslet, Leeds

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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.

>Bristol Beer Factory

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I managed to try a couple of beers from the Bristol Beer Factory this week, on draught at The Midnight Bell in Leeds. I always enjoy seeing a couple of beers from a brewery I had not heard of – and I liked what I got.

Red actually turned out not to be that red at all in colour – well, not compared to Irish Reds – but was the pick of the two nonetheless. A firm, biscuity backbone gave way to a really pleasant smokiness on the way down, with not a great deal of hop presence overclouding it. Lovers of dark milds should take a detour down this road if you get the chance. Red certainly hit the spot after a day at work, and was finished very quickly indeed.

And so we moved onto Sunrise – and with the name, you kind of know what you’re going to get. A lot more effervescent than the Red, and a strong golden yellow in colour, Sunrise was a lot more in-your-face, refreshing and fruity with a massive citrus kick at the end. Sunrise has a big flavour, but despite this it certainly cleared the dust from the throat, so to speak.

Bristol Beer Factory seem to be heading in the right direction, and it was a nice change to see their wares in Leeds. In some ways it makes sense for them to be on sale at The Midnight Bell, a Leeds Brewery pub, because BBF seem to be a similar company – a young, fledgeling brewer quickly establishing themselves as serious players in the beer stakes. They also have a floating barge-bar that is pulled in to action from time to time – which is very cool indeed. According to their website, their Milk Stout seems to be a bit of an award-winner – so I’ll be keeping an eye out for that.

>Chocolate Brownies and Leeds’ Midnight Bell

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Everyone loves brownies, and they are deceptively easy to make – everyone has their own version. Just make sure the butter is at room temperature – otherwise you won’t be able to mix it. As for the Cherries and Nuts, use as much as you like. And they are amazing with a good, tasty mild or porter.

Chocolate, Cherry and Brazil Nut Brownies
You will need:
250g Butter
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.

>Leeds Brewery…Coming Along Nicely

>I was pleased to hear this week that those enterprising young chaps at Leeds Brewery are setting up their own pub. Tentativley named The Midnight Bell, the pub will be situated not too far from thier brewhouse in Leeds, and building work will start soon.
As you know, Leeds Brewery have the full backing of TGS; not least in thier recent success but also due to the fact that these lads are truly passionate about beer and this latest step is certainly ‘one in the eye’ for those who think that the ‘pub’ is dead.
The Good Stuff, along with many other Yorkshire-based beer and food blogs, will be there on opening day for certain. Good Luck.
….and on other TGS – endorsed news, The Fox & Newt are currently selling their own-brewed ales at £2 a pint. Make sure you don’t miss out – thier brewhouse is producing some excellent beers right now.

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