Category Archives: Timothy Taylor’s

>In Praise of Context

If there’s one theme that I keep returning to when it comes to beer (and food) it’s context. The simple can be elevated to the divine, if the context is right.

Like many of us, I have a pretty stressful job. I manage people, and have to keep a number of balls in the air at any one time. On one hand, I like my job; I’m in a good position, with a good rep and with prospects in front of me. On the other hand – i’m not really passionate about it. What I am passionate about – writing and beer – gets an airing here.

Last week I had a rare day off. I took a little lunchtime walk to a pub in Bramley, where I live, called The Old Unicorn. It’s a Taylor’s pub, and very much a ‘local’ atmosphere going on. Depending on the day, it can be dead or busy – on this day, there was a fair old crowd in there. I picked up a paper, ordered a sandwich and a pint of Landlord, and sat down.
Taylor’s Landlord. A beer risen to near mythical heights outside of Yorkshire, and normally a beacon of quality no matter where you drink it. Living in Leeds, I’ve spent many a night in Bradford, Keighley and Haworth supping this archetypal ubiquitous pale bitter. Despite the legend, it can be ordinary (very ordinary) when served in bad condition.

But this pint wasn’t. It was bang on. Fresh, floral, malty, sweet, with a tight, everlasting head, it brightened my mood so much that it vanished in four gulps and another was ordered. I wasn’t in glamorous surroundings, nor supping some imported US gem – this was plain old Yorkshire in a glass, with the sports pages open in front of me (dissecting our loss against Carlisle the night before) and a Club Sandwich to fill my stomach. This was heaven. This was four days ago, and I can still taste that pint now.


>Saturday Afternoon In Horsforth


…And we begin at an entirely pleasant little beer festival, set up to raise funds for the local church, which is having works done to secure the most eco-friendly future it can have. Given that I live about ten minutes away from Horsforth, it would have been rude not to drop in. Of the few beers sunk, a couple stood out. Firstly, Springhead’s Puritan Porter was great – quite smooth, all roast coffee flavours and at 4% abv, dangerously drinkable. The Storyteller’s Brewery, out of Terrington (near York), provided a copper-coloured, toffee-flavoured beer called Genesis which was very well-balanced; and 3 Rivers Pligrim’s Progress offered a light, floral pale that yearned for slightly warmer weather. Good show, and I hope the beer festival becomes a regular occurance.

It would have been rude not to drop into the Town Street Tavern – the only place worth drinking in in Horsforth these days. Being a Market Town Tavern, you know what to expect, but it really is a little oasis amongst the overpriced and oversubscribed bars – quiet, brewriana plastered everywhere and a good range of beers – Leeds’ Pale hit the spot with a somewhat more grapefruity hop bite than usual (change of recipe, lads?) and Taylor’s Best on also – not something you see outside of Keighley often these days, with Landlord being so popular.
Overall, a good afternoon’s drinking. And Leeds United won too – what about that, eh?

>Timothy Taylor’s: Chasing The Havercake Dragon


You have to face it; Timothy Taylor’s beers are seen as somewhat untouchable in certain parts of the country –and for good reason. Landlord is viewed by many as a high-water mark in Brewing, and is without a doubt there Holy Grail for Homebrewers (of which I am one). Ram Tam has attained almost cult status in Yorkshire; one of the few beers in the country truly worth travelling for. Timothy Taylor’s humble brewery is one of beer’s unassuming gods.

I was certainly excited when they announced, early in 2008, that a brace of new (or rather, one new and one re-imagined classic ale) beers would be brewed to coincide with their 150th Birthday. Havercake Ale, named after a nickname for the Duke of Wellington’s 3rd Battalion for which Taylor had an affinity, would be brewed for only the third time in Taylor’s history, alongside Celebration Ale, a new recipe. I must, absolutely must, taste these beers, I thought at the time.

But then, as often happens, real life got in the way. A hectic period of work meant that the trip to my favoured Taylor’s inn – The Fleece, in Haworth, had to be delayed by a week – and this was disastrous. When I finally got there, the barmaid apologetically informed me that all the Havercake and Celebration Ales had run dry. In fact, had just run dry. Excursions to other Taylor’s pubs yielded similar results. I was running round Yorkshire, always one step behind this elusive beer. I gave up. I resigned myself to the fact that I had missed the boat. Lesson learned, young drinker.
Fast-forward a few months to October 2008; we’re in Haworth again. After a pleasant stroll through Bronte country, we popped into The Black Bull for a pint of Ossett’s Silver King, and then, purely out of habit, dropped into the Fleece. Whilst lifting my lips to the first sip of fresh Landlord, my eyes caught something on the back of the bar. A box. A presentation box. With a bottle each of Havercake and Celebration Ale gleaming within. I felt like Indiana Jones faced with the Crystal Skull. Needless to say, it was bought and promptly cellared; kept away for a special occasion: the first beer of 2009.

Celebration Ale poured a clear-as-a-bell amber colour, and the main difference between it and other Taylor’s beers, in my opinion, was the nose: sweet honey and floral hops all round. A robust, typically Yorkshire biscuit malt body gave way to a long bitterness as you’d expect to find in bottled Landlord. Celebration Ale is a much easier-drinking, almost summery beer, and one that I can heartily recommend to Taylor’s nerds.

Havercake Ale, upon pouring, doesn’t seem that different, but the nose gives it away: much less hop profile, and an almost soapy note hang in there. The head did not hang around long on my sample; but the beer itself was malt all the way, with a much softer, less assertive bitterness than the Celebration Ale. As it turns out, quite a contrasting beer.

I understand both beers to have been a success around the country and I think they’ll be popping up now and again in the future. I hope so.

>Landlord’s Fish Bites


Beer-battered Fish is a beercooking classic – and rightly so. This isn’t an original recipe by a long shot but is easy and tastes great. Cook in as large quantities as you need for guests at a gathering. Serve –of course – with handcut, beef-fat fried chips.

You will need (to serve four):
Three large fillets of white fish, cut into hearty chunks – (Cod,Haddock or Pollock are good)
250g plain flour (plus extra for dusting)
¾ pint of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord Pale Ale (well chilled)
Pinch of salt
3 tsps of baking powder
A pinch of chilli flakes, a pinch of black pepper and a good sprinkle of paprika
Sunflower oil to fry in – I mix half oil with half dripping or even goose fat!

1. To make the Batter, simply sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the beer and stir well. You want a thick emulsion – but not too thick. You’ll know when it’s ready.
Heat up your oil – it needs to be good and hot – about 160c. To test, simply fry a chunk of bread. If it fries cleanly and floats to the top, you’re done.
2. On another plate, sprinkle some of the flour and season this with pepper, chilli flakes and paprika. Dust the fish in this before dredging through the batter.
3. Drop the fish into the oil (away from you) and fry for about 5-6 minutes, or until golden brown. Don’t overcrowd the pan – only do a couple of pieces at a time. Take care not to overcook – you want the fish to stay moist.
4. When ready simply leave to drain for a minute or so on some kitchen paper. Serve with slices of lemon and a good dose of salt and vinegar!

I’ve used Timothy Taylor’s Landlord here because it’s an assertive beer that punches through the batter. However, any beer that you feel fits this bill will do. Experiment! I can also recommend Moorhouses’s Pendle Witches Brew for good beer-batter, too.

>The May Midweek Mild


See what I did there?

Seeing as though CAMRA have deemed May the month of Mild, here’s what I can recommend if you feel like sampling the wonders of that dying breed, Mild.
Personally, I’ve been drinking a lot of Leed’s Midnight Bell. Not only is it a gorgeous pint full of dark fruit and roasted malt goodness but it’s the best beer Leeds produce – in my humble opinion. Leeds are becoming more popular across the region and if you see Midnight Bell up for grabs, nab yourself a pint.
Another old standby is Timothy Taylor’s Golden Best. Landlord gets the most press these days but Golden Best is a wonder – light and incredibly moreish. I waxed lyrical about TT’s Dark Mild here. Again, keep an eye out, but head toward Keighley and you’ll soon see all those Smith’s pub signs transform into the familiar gold and green of Timothy Taylor.
I’ve chosen beers that should be relatively available (In Yorkshire, at least) – but take the plunge in May. Support your brewers.

Have a mild.
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