First up, Woodie’s in Headingley has transformed – via a very swift refurbishment – into a self-styled ‘Craft Beer House’. Owned by Greene King, Woodie’s is one of Headingley’s old-school and now sits alongside Arcadia in offering Real Ale and, well, craft beer. I haven’t visited yet, but Ghost Drinker has.
Speaking of refurbishment, Cooper’s (Market Town Taverns’ Guiseley outpost) has also increased its Cask Ale offering and added even more keg lines. Whether the new look gets rolled out across all of its pubs remains to be seen, but given MTT’s hit rate and expertise at creating well-stocked, attractive alehouses, I’d wager it’ll be a success.
Sticking with bars and pubs, Leeds heavyweights North Bar won ‘Best Drinks Selection’ in last week’s Publican Awards. Richly deserved too – as the blurb states, Matt, Kath, Jim and the team work incredibly hard to keep North delivering hit after hit. If you’re in Leeds and want to toast them, they are currently holding their annual Lowlands event. Not that you need much excuse to drink in North.
Leeds Brewery also beat off competition to bag the ‘Best Microbrewing Pub Company’ award at the same event. Leeds’ pub estate is a true success story; the recent opening of The Duke Of York marking the brewery’s first foray outside of Leeds. I’d imagine it won’t be their last. Well done all.
The Nook Brewhouse in Holmfirth are hosting a suitably Tour De France themed Spring Beer Festival, kicking off on the 10th April. Pictured is their stunning poster, which was too nice not to post up here. You can check out details of their new monthly specials – including a collaboration Breakfast Stout with Grumpy Mule Coffee. Also, there’s a new independent Beer Festival on the scene – Wakefield’s Festival of Beer. It takes place in May, and keep an eye here for more details as they appear.
Speaking of monthly specials, Ilkley have created a eye-catching yearly Mayan calendar to help you figure out what’s coming next.
…And finally, Great Heck Brewery will be hosting a meet the Brewer event at Northallerton’s Tithe Bar. Denzil Vallance, Great Heck’s self-styled overlord, tweeted last week that the brewery will be expanding in 2014, which is testament to the popularity of his beers, both bottled and on cask.
...Just a quick plug for an interview I’ve done with John, Christian and Matt of North Bar to celebrate their first 15 years in business, and looking forward to the next 15. They’ve got a busy summer ahead, trust me.
It’s over on Culture Vulture, as part of the ‘Tavern Tales’ section that I edit and write for from time to time. If you have any ideas for features on pubs history, stories or anecdotes, then don’t hesitate to get in touch. My email’s on my profile page above.
Hope you enjoy it.
Ok, a few interesting things to point out right now. First up, Leeds International Film Festival is getting close to kick-off; and it’s been made even better this year with a pop-up bar; courtesy of those top guys at North and Kirkstall Brewery. The bar will be at Leeds Town Hall from the 3rd-20th November. So, if you like your film – and like your beer – you’re in hog heaven. Staying with North and her sisters, I’d like to extend an official congratulations to The Cross Keys for gaining yet another mention in The Observer’s Food Monthly Awards this year – for ‘Best Sunday Lunch’. In Leeds, we all know The Cross Keys is one of the jewels in our crown; a great pub with fantastic staff and great food – so it’s a joy for this to be recognised nationally. Well done, guys.
TGS Favourites Ilkley Brewery are helping out Leeds Women’s Aid with a fundraiser in November. Held at Leeds Seventeen Restaurant and Suites, there will be food, comedy, and a beer-tasting session held with our friends from the brewery. If you want example of how breweries can connect with local causes to raise both awareness and community, then look no further than this event.
You’ll be able to get more info shortly on the LWA website here, and follow them on Twitter @LeedsWomensAid.
Finally, a couple of things from Leeds Brewery. Pin has had a refurbishment; which was welcome news for me as I always thought it had all the atmosphere of a school canteen – so drop by this weekend to check it out. The food is excellent at PIN, so have a leisurely lunch with your pint of Leeds Pale or Midnight Bell – I definately recommend it. Leeds Brewery have also launched their own app, so check out the App store for more info on that. The Midnight Bell are also having a ‘Midnight Feast’ on the 29th – so expect plenty of late-night Halloween treats from 18.30 to 02.00am! It’s all systems go at Leeds!
Ok, I’m readying myself for some heavy beer-sampling in London next week at GBBF; but if you’re hankering for some southern action you could do no better than heading over to North Bar on August the 17th to raise a pint to some of our southern cousins. We don’t get beers from the likes of Windsor & Eaton and Brodies up here often, so don’t miss out.
North Bar held the official launch of Magic Rock’s beer last night; the first time that the fledgling brewery’s beers have been poured in the city. Given that Magic Rock are the brainchild of the Burhouse Brothers (of MyBreweryTap fame), I knew that the beers would be good – or rather I hoped that it would be the case – and I wasn’t disappointed. Head Brewer Stuart Ross has created a super-strong core range of beers, with something for everyone.
If I could boil it all down to one thought, I would say that MR brew uncomplicated but massively tasty beers. This quality is what sets apart the best brewers in the UK today – in my opinion the likes of Dark Star, Kernel and Buxton – from the rest. Personally, I’m much more impressed by how much depth and flavour you can get into a low-strength Pale Ale over 12% barrel-aged Black Saisons these days. Maybe it’s a reflection of the no-nonsense personalities of Richard, Jonny and Stuart coming through in their beer.
So, onto the beers. Curious (3.9% abv )is the flagship Pale Ale; simple, tasty, fruity and with a surprisingly dry finish, its perfect for this time of year. Rapture (4.6%abv) was my personal favourite; a US style ‘hoppy red ale’ with masses of toffee in the body and a dry citrussy finish. Highwire (5.5%abv) is an amped-up version of Curious; stronger, sweeter and with a much more pronounced tropical-fruits hop profile; Cannonball (Double IPA, 7.4%abv ) is an amped-up version of Highwire – got that? Everything’s turned up to ten with Cannonball, and there will be another version of this coming along soon, so keep an eye out. Finally, if Pales aren’t really your thing, Dark Arts (6%abv) is a simple yet tasty Stout that drinks nowhere near it’s substantial abv – plenty of smoky woodiness in the body, but with a lovely little hint of Blackcurrant running through it.
So, something for everyone. North did an excellent job of entertaining the masses with the place decked out in Circus (Magic Rock’s theme) style; a charming Tarot Reader helped you choose what beer you should try if you were dithering at the bar, and the stiltwalking, fire-breathing, Crotch-grinding girls (yes, I just said that) kept everyone suitably amused. The beer flowed and popcorn was consumed. You’ll be able to try Magic Rock’s beers throuhout Leeds (Foleys, North and The Fox & Newt for sure) over the next few days, so make sure you do. You won’t be disappointed.