Category Archives: Vale Brewery

>Arcadia, Headingley – Redux

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Market Town Tavern’s Arcadia in Headingley underwent an expansion in the last couple of months, taking over the unit next door to it. As the best place to drink in Headingley by a country mile, this was welcome news. It’s also heartening to see quality being rewarded – pubs may be closing all the time but when things like this happen you realise that some decent pubs, owned by companies with attention to detail and respect for the trade, are doing ok. Plus, it may be controversial but I’m all for a dead-wood clearing exercise.
Anyway, onto the pub. We chose yesterday lunchtime to pay a visit and see what was going on. The usual friendly, relaxed atmosphere and staff remain, as do the tin beer posters and assorted other breweriana (including a gorgeous plate for Goose Island’s Matilda that I simply have to have) that adorn the walls. The extension means that both the ground floor and upper mezzanine area have more or less doubled in size, and it’s a tasteful job.
Feeling peckish, we noticed that the food menu had been slightly scaled back, and also in price – which was a nice surprise. Given that I rate the Hamburger as one of my top five beer foods, I decided to give the guys a chance to impress with a Blue Cheeseburger. Excellent it was too, a big, rough, meatball-esque burger and a great cheese that started off buttery and then hit you with that sharpness that you need in a blue cheese. A chewy bun, and slices of tomato rounded it off well. My partner’s felafels were also given the thumbs up – as were my other friend’s Bean Chili.
From a range that included Saltaire’s Winter Warmer, TT Landlord and Copper Dragon’s Golden Pippin, I gave Vale Breweries’ Vale Pale a go; a very much no-nonsense Pale with a decent floral aroma. A nice alternative to Landlord, I thought. Their Wychert Ale had much more depth, with a fruity nose, a tight, creamy head and a treacle/bonfire toffee vibe in the body which aptly fitted the freezing temperatures outside.
We left happy in the knowledge that Arcadia remains improved, and putting the rest of the Drinking – Pits in Headingley to shame.

>Mr Foley’s Beer Festival

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I dropped into Mr Foley’s over the weekend to see how the Beer Festival was going. With a second bar rigged up in the back room, this gave us interested drinkers a chance to enjoy some different ales to the norm in decent surroundings (I really didn’t miss the sports-hall vibe)!!

Despite missing the ‘Meet the Brewer’ event, Andy Whalley (York Brewery), was more than happy to spend an hour or with myself discussing many topics from the USA craft beer scene to how the beer industry are coping with the (temporary, we hope) hop shortage. And a very nice bloke he was too, showing the enthusiasm one would expect from one of the main men at York.

Dean, the manager of Foley’s, explained that the festival was going very well, and hopefully we should see more of the same in the upcoming year. Ale sales are going strong too, as evidenced by the addition (at the expense of Lager taps) of yet more pumps dedicated to beer. And the beer itself? Well, of the many sampled over the weekend, Dean recommended Vale Breweries Black Swan – an excellent mild; full of big roasted-malt flavour and a dry hoppiness. Despite being perfectly happy to have stayed on this all evening, I jumped over to the Red Squirrell London Porter; another excellent example of the style – big red fruit and chocolate character with a sharp dryness coming through. Dark Side of the Moose was as excellent as ever, and Kelham’s pale and fruity Golden Eagle made the ‘Friday after-work pint’ slot all its own.

The festival runs all week, so get yourself down there and try something different.
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