Sunday 8 November 2015

Leeds: The Return

The Lovely Jemma and I were recently up in Leeds for a couple of days. Jemma was getting a new tattoo from an excellent tattoo artist who works up there and I came along for moral support. It would of been rude of me not to visit a few pubs as well while I was there. I first visited Leeds last year and enjoyed some good beer in excellent pubs, and I was excited to go back and try new entries in the Good Beer Guide, visit a couple of pubs I'd missed on my last visit, and return to a couple of favourites.

While waiting at Kings Cross station for our train we stopped for a couple of drinks in The Parcel Yard, a large Fullers pub next to the tourist ridden Harry Potter shop. This is a large, two floor pub, and it was disappointing to see the top floor closed during peak evening travel time. This meant the downstairs was much more busy and cramped than usual.  My halves of Fullers Front Row and Windsor and Eton World Cup Drop were both in good nick but pricey at around £4.50 a pint. The high prices don't seem to faze most of the punters who hand over there money with dead eyed acceptance of being fleeced. Despite the wallet busting prices this is a nice enough pub to enjoy a drink.

We made a quick stop across the road at Sourced market in St Pancras station, a little gem of a place that sells an extensive (and expensive) range of canned and bottled beers. I got a can of Five Points Pale, and it was delicious,with none of the metallic flavours that can sometimes be associated with canned beer. We hopped on the train and just over a couple of hours later we were in Leeds and checked in to the glamorous Travelodge hotel.

The next day while Jemma was getting ink stabbed onto her arm, I took the opportunity to visit a couple of the less glamorous pubs in Leeds featured in the Good Beer Guide. First up was the Stick or Twist, a larger Wetherspoons opposite the Leeds Arena. The interior is identikit Spoons - brown-red carpet, sticky wooden tables and chairs, and a long bar with plenty of cheap booze on offer. The customers were identikit as well -mainly  single older men but there were a few groups of students popping in for a cheap lunch. The Wetherspoons real ale festival was on but sadly the special collaboration brews that were on weren't very exciting. I ended up with Oakham Owl & The Pussycat, a hoppy treat to start the day off with. To be honest the place was nothing special and I was quick to move on to the next pub.

The Templar Hotel is a handsome looking pub from the outside with gorgeous tiling, and inside was like stepping back in time. Warm oak boarded walls, old fashioned pub furniture and cosy bench seating at the back made this a pleasant retreat. Serving bells were still on the wall at the back of the pub, I wasn't brave enough to press one to see if they still worked. On a Tuesday afternoon the customers were just as old fashioned as the pub interior and I imagine some of them had probably been there since the pub first opened. There was a decent selection of ales and my half of Devils Advocate from Three Kings Brewery wasn't bad, although it went a bit wonky in the finish. The pub was a pleasant little time warp but again it's not somewhere where I would want to spend a lot of time, the main reason being I was skewing the average age of the punters by about forty years.

I met up with Jemma with her new and excellent tattoo, and headed for lunch at Friends of Ham. I'd heard very good things about this place, and sadly it was closed for refurbishment when I tried to visit last year. Walking into the bright airy space I was pleased to see three blackboards with details about the three things I love most in life (apart from The Lovely Jemma of course) - meat, cheese and beer. We went for the Spanish Meat and Cheese platter, and I also enjoyed a pint of Iti NZPA, a big hoppy fruity treat from Hawkshead, with plenty of flavour considering the 3.8% ABV. It was superb and the best beer of the trip. The food was also excellent. This was a lovely little place and well worth visiting if you're in Leeds.

Last pub for the afternoon was the Crowd of Favours, a former chippy converted into a pub. Owned by the Leeds Brewery, there was plenty of their brews on offer. A pumpkin ale was the seasonal special but I wasn't feeling brave enough to try it and I stuck to the Leeds Pale Ale, which was very tasty. The place has a studenty vibe, with retro consoles set up in one area, and plenty of activities throughout the week such as quiz and cinema nights. Jemma and I settled down for a few matches of Mortal Kombat 2 on the SNES, and after I won ten matches in a row we retired to a comfy sofa. The place was bigger than expected (it must have been a spacious chip shop) and I would be quite happy to pop in on a busy Friday night and enjoy a couple of pints here.

We headed back to the hotel for a nap before preparing for an evening of eating and more drinking, including the trendsetting North bar. But I'll tell you about that next time. Hope you can join me then!

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