The Bradford of the North

Quick bleg: where’s good in Leeds?

To put it another way: where’s excellent-to-unmissable, in the centre of Leeds, more or less in between the University of Leeds and the railway station? Pubs, mainly. I hear there is a particularly good offie in the town, but it’s a couple of miles too far out of the centre for me to fit it in this time out.

Suggestions in comments please!

Update: well, I’m back. I made it to Mr Foley’s (Red Willow Endless & Smokeless, Thornbridge Pollards) and, more briefly, North Bar (Kirkstall Aquitaine), where I spotted Zak at the bar and said hello. Unfortunately it wasn’t Zak. Oh well.

Mr Foley’s is a big town-centre pub with very comfortable seating and a lot of different areas; the only thing letting it down is the huge number of TV screens beaming Sky Sports in all directions. (It would be nice to have some acknowledgment that not everyone wants to watch rugby with their pint. And Wales lost.) The Smokeless (a smoked porter) was fab, one of those beers where the added flavour really blends with the underlying character of the beer. As for Endless, I commented the other day at Tandleman’s that Red Willow are stronger on sweeter and darker beers, and that what they really need to bring out is a really pale, hoppy beer. Well, Endless is that beer, but I’m afraid it confirms my impression that RW aren’t quite there yet; it’s a fine beer with a big hop attack, but there is just a touch of that characteristic Red Willow sweet heaviness in mid-mouth, which lets it down a bit. As for Pollards – a “coffee milk stout” – I didn’t really like it at all; far too sweet and very little beer character, more like a cold Irish coffee than a stout.

Later I headed out to North Bar, humming fragments of Armenian as I went. It’s a short walk from Mr Foley’s but a very different area – it looks as if the rents are lower, put it that way. The bar itself is a very different proposition: a long narrow room running back from the street, with a bar down one side and tables and chairs along the opposite wall. Four handpumps and a forest of keg fonts, all of which I overlooked in favour of the cask Aquitaine – an 8% old ale aged in wine casks. (I was tempted by the Magic Rock Curious, but I could only stop for a half so I wanted something a bit stronger.) It was only after I’d got my beer that I took a proper look at the beers on keg, which were quite remarkable – Odell’s, Flying Dog, Nøgne Ø, BrewDog, Thornbridge, Magic Rock… I really should have gone for some of that there craft keg, if only to continue my investigation of whether any of it is ever any good. (Results so far: not sure.) The BrewDog, incidentally, was something called “Everything in its right place” – a response to Simon? As for the Aquitaine, much as I love old ales, I don’t know if ageing in wine casks is a good idea; the beer was both sweeter and sharper than I expected, as well as having a kind of ‘meaty’ red wine quality. It was an odd combination which would take a bit of getting used to.

So that was Leeds. Then I came home and had yet another Red Willow (Heartless dark chocolate stout, another example of how to do beer-with-additives properly) and a Buxton (Bitter, a full-flavoured amber bitter but with that distinctive Buxton help-there’s-a-hop-teabag-on-my-tongue front-of-mouth attack). Good beer day.



  1. Posted 20 June, 2012 at 8:11 am | Permalink | Reply

    Actually something I’d quite like to know as I’m in Leeds at the end of the month for Ghostfest…

    [Unhelpful Post]

  2. Rob
    Posted 20 June, 2012 at 11:05 am | Permalink | Reply

    North Bar is probably the most well known and would be top of a lot of lists. The Victoria Hotel has a good selection of beers and a fantastic interior. There are lots of other as well, Mr Foleys, Veritas, Leeds Brewery Tap etc etc.

  3. Posted 20 June, 2012 at 11:13 am | Permalink | Reply

    North and Foleys. There are others, but they’re the unmissable ones.


  4. Posted 20 June, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    What Nick says (Foleys and North both excellent) but it depends what you like/are looking for?

    The Garden Gate has the best interior (but bit far to walk maybe?)
    Whitelocks is one of the oldest pubs
    The Angel has the most Sherlock Holmes look-a-likes per sq m
    The Ship has the most pints of well kept beer spilled on tables by weirdos per sq m
    Nation of Shopkeepers has the sofas most likely to consume you like a black hole
    Town Hall Tavern has good food…
    …but Victoria has better sausages
    The Grove is my favourite

    • Posted 20 June, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Are any of these places open past like 11pm?

      (Sorry to hijack the post but I need to know these tings too)

      • Posted 20 June, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

        North and Nation are both open late every night, 1pm I think.
        Grove is open to midnight at weekend, 11 weekdays.
        You’ll need Google or better informed Loiners for the rest!

      • Posted 20 June, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        Oh sweet! Cheers for that!

  5. Phil
    Posted 20 June, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Cheers. What do we reckon to Whitelock’s?

    • Posted 21 June, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink | Reply

      It’s worth a visit as it’s a piece of history, tucked away down one of the alleyways hidden off Briggate, the main shopping street. There’s decent cask on too, often Revolutions from down the road.

  6. Posted 21 June, 2012 at 8:14 am | Permalink | Reply

    P.S. It’s quite hard to comment on your blog Phil, it seems to require wordpress .com login (doesn’t seem to work with login either) which is pretty awkward – I imagine some of the other Leeds fols may have tried to comment but been thwarted.

    • Phil (not logged in)
      Posted 21 June, 2012 at 9:56 am | Permalink | Reply

      That’s weird. WordPress seems to be detecting comments by WordPress users and demanding that you log in – I tried to post this comment without logging in and it brought up a login screen.

      I’m trying now with an old (duff) email – hopefully it won’t spot me. This would seem to be designed to make life harder for WordPress users without affecting anyone else!

    • Phil (not logged in)
      Posted 21 June, 2012 at 9:56 am | Permalink | Reply

      Yup, that worked. Bee-zarre.

  7. Posted 21 June, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink | Reply

    Unfortunately both my emails are associated with WordPress accounts so I have no choice but to attempt logging in to comment. This account is actually a redundant one. Not a very user friendly bug, naughty wordpress!

    • Posted 27 June, 2012 at 9:13 am | Permalink | Reply

      If you use a gmail account, full stops put anywhere in your address (e.g. will pass the annoying WordPress filter but emails sent to it will still get to the same place, i.e. your inbox.

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