OTLEY PUB CLUB: MARCH MEETING
MARCH [-ING ON TOGETHER]
Couldn’t resist – especially if we have any OPC members who are fans of Huddersfield, Barnsley or Sheffield [of either persuasion]. I know the Terriers’ fans will still be laughing, but I’m quite happy to be following them up the league – and looking forward to humiliating them at Wembley in the play-offs final! [OK, that’s jinxed it now, but what the hey?] And for goodness’ sake Guiseley – drag yourselves well away from that relegation zone!
Don’t know about you, but I’ve sampled some good new beers in February, and visited some different [non-Otley] pubs. It was a short month, but it’s been fun, and proper Spring’s on its way soon. [Honest – evidenced by the amount of tiny birds chasing each other around my back garden!] The other good news is that, since we published our response to the Leeds CAMRA ‘New Full Measure’ article about The Old Cock, I’ve had a very positive exchange of emails with the Old Cock’s owner Lee Pullan. Although they are understandably still unhappy about the imposition of the ACV and might not agree with all of the other OPC arguments in our NFM response, they still understand that a lot of the projects we carry out are good for the pubs and the town. The upshot of that is that, while the Old Cock won’t be an active full-time member of OPC, they will be happy to take part in any relevant town-wide projects we promote. Knowing how they threw themselves into the Victorian Alehouse competition, and seeing the success of their own Beer Festivals, I’m really looking forward to them taking part!
MIND YOUR MANOR!
[That headline’s as much for me as it is for you!] I forgot to say in the February newsletter that The Manor House is now an official ambassador pub for the Leeds Rhinos Rugby League team. This will include special offers on tickets for all matches, meeting at the Manor House pre and post matches and transport from the Manor House to match games (home and away), meet the team, Q&A nights, promotion, offers and more…. Keep an eye on the Manor House Facebook page for more info coming soon, or call in and ask them about it.
I also forgot to mention music at the Manor Sessions every Thursday evening, even though they’d reminded me specifically when I called in [sorry guys!] See photo for upcoming bands, and if you want to know how good The Manor Sessions are, just go to their Facebook page and watch the video posted on Sunday afternoon, 26/02.
A BEER JOURNEY #1 – LEEDS
Our friends from last year’s trip from Norway to the pubs of Otley – Jarle and Jone – were in Leeds with their mates again for the Leeds United games on the 11th and 14th of February, and they insisted on taking Catriona and me for a few drinks in Leeds on the way to the first match on Saturday. We met at that good old favourite The Scarbrough on Bishopgate just after midday, but folk were falling out of the doors so we headed for The Hop at Brewery Wharfe. That didn’t open until 12:30, so we trooped into Archies next door, hoping the rest of the day would be more successful [- and I’m not even going to mention the result against Cardiff]. I love Ossett beers, and a pint of Silver King at 4.3% was a nice refreshing way to start the afternoon.
Walking in a group of 7 or 8 people is not always easy when they don’t all know the way, but the Norwegians had all made this trip before, and kept the other two of us in tow as we headed for The Midnight Bell and a fine pint of the almost ubiquitous (3.8%) Leeds Pale. On around the corner to the Northern Monk Brewery and another pale pint – this time True North Pale Ale. Going further down the strength scale, but I thought it was gorgeous – even though it only scores 50 on RateBeer. The most amazing thing about the brewery tap [pictured] was that we were sitting next to a group of men who appeared to be dressed as Vikings! As the majority of our party were Norwegian their curiosity got the better of them, and they just had to ask why. As we could have predicted, I suppose, it was someone’s stag do. They must’ve had a heavy night, as they didn’t all look completely enthusiastic at 1:30 in the afternoon.
Bit of a walk South after that, past Peter Lorimer’s old pub The Commercial Inn, now permanently closed sadly, and on to a pub that was completely different from the first three. Gone were all the trappings of central Leeds posh bars, and gone too was any sign of real ale – let alone craft. So, it was a bottle of Newcastle Brown for me, and a [forlorn, as it turned out] hope that at least the fact that The Bull’s Head is at 23 [my favourite number] St. Matthew’s Street might bring us luck later . . . Finally, over the motorway and down to Billy’s Bar on Elland Road for a pint of something I can’t even remember – probably John Smith’s, as they only seem to sell that or Fosters on draft. At least we managed to get into our seats in time to see the kick off, which the Norwegians apparently rarely, if ever, achieve. So one small victory at least, after what had been a very pleasant and sociable couple of hours. We’ll probably meet them all again – especially when Leeds get promoted – as Jone reckoned he had heard there were some 3,000 Norwegian Leeds fans at that game! Their connecting flight up from London had been full of football fans singing and passing round Jägermeisters whilst, of course, behaving impeccably! All Leeds Aren’t We?
IS LEEDS REALLY THE BEER CAPITAL OF THE NORTH?
I’m sure our friends in Sheffield might argue that Leeds isn’t even the beer capital of Yorkshire! Still, if you’re looking for somewhere with “a long history of brewing, an absolute abundance of bars and a slew of cracking beer festivals”, the Leeds List website can tell you all about it
A BEER JOURNEY #2 – TEXAS, Pt 1
I’ve just got back from a week in Texas, and although it might not be the first choice of destinations for real ale-drinking vegetarians, you might just be surprised! [And it’s got plenty of culture crammed under its ten gallon hat – so a brief mention of that first.] The Houston Museum District for instance is an association of 20 museums, galleries, cultural centres and community organisations in Houston, dedicated to promoting art, science, history and culture. I only had time to visit the vast Museum of Fine Arts, but I was hugely impressed – not just by the 62,000 [yes!] works of art, but especially by the pre-Columbian cultural and gold collections. AND it has a cinema that was showing Oscar nominees as well as classic documentaries and features – I could have spent a week there! But there were pubs to visit.
Spent a day in Galveston, where we visited a bar called Brews Brothers that advertised 20 craft beers on tap. Although the barman assured me that other bars in town also sold craft beers, I’m sure their range couldn’t be beaten. What’s more, their prices were reasonable and the barman was very friendly and helpful – letting me taste any of the beers I wanted. [Well, maybe. Good old English reserve made me stop at three!] The first was an American IPA from SIGMA Brewing Company in Houston, called Hoarder’s Endowment. Beautifully hoppy and still easy drinking at 7% ABV. I chose that instead of the second tasting – a double IPA that was nearly 10% and very smooth and well-rounded, but without the outstanding flavour of the first. Returning to the bar, I tasted a brett that certainly did have flavour, but was a just a bit too sour for me whilst eating the bar’s home-made vegan burger and fries. Sadly, I wasn’t concentrating enough on the brewery names of the two I didn’t have – I just re-ordered the Sigma IPA and relaxed! So if you ever do find yourself on Strand Street in Galveston, remember the name – Brews Brothers. Well worth a visit [but are those walls really that distressed, a la Alamo?]
I can’t really say I was equally impressed by Mad Dogs ‘British Pub’ on the San Antonio River Walk [and I didn’t even venture into Durty Nelly’s Irish Bar], but again the fries were good! As was the OPA that I tried instead of the “Cricket Bat Sampler – 5 x 4.5oz glasses of Bass, Boddingtons, Newcastle (sic), Smithwick’s and Guinness”. Unfortunately the only IPA on the menu – Hopadillo from Houston’s Karbach brewery – had run out, but the Oatmeal Pale Ale [OPA] from local San Antonio brewery Ranger Creek was a superb substitute. A ‘mere’ 5.8%, and beautifully balanced between malty sweetness and fruity hop flavours – I loved it, but then I am a sucker for Amarillo hops! Only black mark for the pub [err – apart from the obvious!] was waiting for ages for the change we’d asked for – still leaving more than a 20% tip – and finally having to find the waitress and stand over her while she produced it!
[Part 2 will be in the March Newsletter. Another member of our committee – t’other Bob – has just departed for Australia for a month, and hopefully he’ll bring some pub tales back from there as well. We do love to hear about pubs/clubs/bars/hotels/dives/shebeens outside Otley, so if you have any stories – real or imaginary! – do share!]
You’ve just missed the Bradford one [see below], but there are more coming up. Here’s a few –
The Old Cock Tyne and Wear beer fest is on over Easter weekend, from Thursday to Monday 13th to 17th April [with pies!] – see photo.
Before that, from Thursday 16th to Saturday 18th of March, the Leeds CAMRA beer festival returns to Pudsey Civic Hall for the last time before it moves to a new, as yet unnamed, location next year. There’ll be hot and cold food, snacks, and tombola, as well as more than 150 different beers, ciders and perries. The list of breweries will be revealed at the beginning of March. Don’t forget that Saturday the 17th is St Patrick ’s Day though, and I predict there’ll be plenty happening in Otley to make it worth staying ‘at home’, even if it’s just for the one night!
In between those two comes the North Leeds Charity Beer Festival, on Friday and Saturday March 31st and April 1st. It takes place at North Leeds Cricket Club in Roundhay and features more than 60 ales, from England/Scotland/Wales! Also Yorkshire ciders, spirits and soft drinks along with Wilsons of Crossgates ‘famous pork pies’. [Why is it always assumed that beer drinkers won’t be vegetarians or vegans?] – Later note: Samosas also available – hopefully vegetable.
A BEER JOURNEY #3 – OTLEY to SALTAIRE
Bit of a cheat this one, as the beer all comes at the end, with none of it on the journey. My mate and I walked over from Otley to Saltaire last Friday for the Bradford Beer Festival in The Victoria Hall. As it’s an official CAMRA festival they have one session which is free to enter for CAMRA members, so being a bit of a cheapskate AND needing the exercise [if I’m to complete the Lyke Wake Walk in June] it was a great opportunity for a walk and a beer.
The good thing was that Thursday’s storm ‘Doris’ had cleared off – if it (apparently you shouldn’t call a storm ‘she’ or ‘he’!) h
ad ever arrived here – and the sun was shining all the way. The bad thing was that we started off straight up the Chevin. Over the bypass at the top of Station Road, straight up the footpath to the White House, then the steps and the slope to Surprise View. By the time we got to the top, we both realised we were so out of condition that we wouldn’t have stopped for a pint at The Royalty even if it had been open, as we passed through its car park to the footpath beyond. The next 7 miles were almost all downhill though, so by the time we got there we could at least manage a swallow or two.
I like Bradford Beer Festival. The Victoria Hall’s big and interesting enough to accommodate the hundreds who turn up, and this year the alphabetically arranged barrels were spread over three rooms, mixed in with the ciders and continental beers and food and other stuff. I was only drinking half pints, but I still thought it would be best to start with a 3.5% pale from Hopjacker in Derbyshire, called ‘The Mark’ – and very nice it was too! Then up through Ossett’s Chinook-stuffed ‘Willow’ at 4% [equally nice]. Tigertops [Wakefield] brewery ‘Union Pacific Class’ was next at 4.9% [more complex, but no better] and Kirkstall Inception at 6.2%, which was as good as ever. Finally, the pièce de résistance was ‘Amarillo’ from the de Molen brewery in Bodegraven, Netherlands. As I already said. I’m a sucker for Amarillo, so I had to have this dry-hopped Imperial IPA, even though it was 9.2% and £2:40 for a third of a pint! [Actually, we could only scrape together £2:20 between the two of us before we left, so the kind barman gave us a short measure. It was glorious! I might just walk over again next year – and I’d recommend it to anyone [the festival AND the walk].
And just while we’re talking about Bradford and CAMRA, there was a letter in the Jan/Feb edition of their wonderful magazine Tyke Taverner from another of our OPC committee members Phil Greaves, with this photo of the adverts for some of Bradford’s pubs in the Tyke Taverner of October 1987. See if you remember any of them!
‘HAPPY HOUR’ IN LEEDS
If anyone had tried to tell my grandad when he came home from work at Sharlston colliery that Leeds would one day be all about cocktail bars, he would’ve locked ‘em under t’stairs and called for t’men in white coats! But it seems that’s how the self-styled ‘Capital of the North’ loves to portray itself nowadays – as a sort of working man’s Knightsbridge. Here’s another link to Leeds List that tells you about 27 ‘Happy Hour’ deals in the city that seem to favour cocktail bars. But at least one of them’s got it right – £2 a pint between 5 and 7pm Tuesday to Thursday at The Old Red Bus Station. [But I still don’t like the look of those taps!]
– – / / – –
The committee meeting will be held at 19:15 as usual, this Thursday, March 02, in The Bowling Green this time, with the purely ‘social’ side of the evening kicking off there at 8-o-clock. Then we’ll move on towards the centre of town and The Black Bull for 20:45, and leave there to go back up Newmarket to The Otley Tavern at 21:30. [Here we go again, back and forward on the same road! But at least you get to find your way around town with our arcane system of pub visits!]
28 February 2017