The Pubs of Guiseley

Tryanuary is about three things for me; trying new beers, trying new pubs and revisiting pubs or bars that you may not tend to frequent with an aim to ‘rediscover’ them. The latter is what I got up to in my local town, Guiseley, and here I share my experience with you.

Guiseley is to the North West of Leeds, less than 15 minutes on a train from the city centre. A bit of local trivia; Harry Ramsden’s was set up in the town back in 1928. Also, Harry Corbett (of Sooty and Sweep fame) lived above a local chip shop that used to be called Springfield and is now our local; Midgeley’s. So, yes, we like fish and chips in this part of the world.

Back to the pub tour, I’ve been to all the pubs in Guiseley at least once before, but me and Leanne only tend to ever go to two on a regular basis. The Ings and Coopers are regulars for us and we’ve visited them for many years. I wanted to use the upcoming #tryanuary to think about why we don’t visit any of the others, and call in to see what we might be missing.  There are 8* pubs in total to visit.

Coopers

This is the pub we visit most and have been patrons for many years. This is a Market Town Tavern run pub, a Northern pub chain that has 19 run pubs. The biggest selection of draft beer in Guiseley can be found here, with eight cask pumps, one cider pump and ten keg lines. One of the cask pumps is taken by a permanent Timothy Taylor, one by a Rooster’s beer and one by an Okells beer, leaving five ever rotating guests. Locality is key here, with the produce from the kitchen all coming from local suppliers. Coopers offer a great food menu and this seems to be a big pull for many people.

When I popped in on my visit last month Brodie’s Prime from Hawkshead was on cask which turned out to be the best beer of the day by far. The atmosphere is always chilled and you’re guaranteed to see a pub dog or two.

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Everybody’s Social

This venues previous incarnation was Cellar V (great name), which closed down over three years ago. It was a popular venue amongst locals to go for a bite to eat. Later in the evening it turned into more of a ‘night out’ venue with DJ and cocktails taking centre stage. The owners of the Yard in Ilkley invested £250,000 in the premises to bring it back to life in September 2016.

I’ve tried to get on with this place a few times, forcing myself to go in on a different day of the week, but it just doesn’t work for me. It’s a strange combinations of cafe-come pub-come loud music venue that just isn’t a pull for me.

They have three cask pumps all dedicated to local breweries. When I visited one was unfortunately off so it was Ilkley Mary Jane or Baildon Blonde. I opted for the latter, a very basic blonde beer, which made me wish I’d gone for Mary Jane to be honest. There are ten keg taps here, with the likes of Meantime Pale or Brooklyn Lager. They also have  a Bavarian Punk Pilsner which comes with a scantily clad ‘punk rock chick’ on top of the tap handle. Disappointing to see. Their bottle offering is supplied by Matthew Clark’s basic craft range package.

One major plus is that there are coat hooks everywhere in here – something we also look out for in a pub!

This is a place that caters for a large amount of tastes, just not for me personally.

The Ings

This pub, for me, has the best beer garden in Leeds. Nestled on the edge of a housing estate near the Leeds > Ilkley train line, you get transported to a quaint oasis. After Coopers this is where we tend to go for a pint. This pub has survived several recessions and it’s brilliant to see it keeps going. Only a wet offering behind the bar, no food here (unless you go on a Friday late afternoon where they’ll put on a free spread for all pub goers).

The beer here isn’t anything to write home about, five hand pulls that don’t rotate; Landlord, Wainwright, Theakstons Best Bitter, Saltaire Blonde and Tetleys. What I will say is the beers are kept superbly – one of the best pints of hand pull you will ever have the pleasure of drinking.  Aside from the cask there are seven keg taps hosting four lagers, John Smith’s, Cider and Guinness. However, you don’t really come here for the beer.  Spring and Summer is all about the beer garden and then Autumn and Winter are all about the cosy fire inside and the warm homely feels.

 

New Inn

I can’t remember last time I went in here to be honest, it must be at least 12 years ago. A pub that has opened and closed a few times over the years. There is no polite way to put it – this is probably the worst pub I’ve been in. Putting the poor beer choices to one side, it was cold, not just in temperature but in decor. It hasn’t had a lick of paint or a face-lift in about 25 years. They have two cask pumps here, both were off. At the time when I was in there, there was myself and another guy who had control of the TV remote playing whatever he fancied. I opted for a Guinness, which was super chilled and just gave me brain freeze. Really struggled to find a positive for this place which is an absolute shame.

Red Lion

Just over the road from the New Inn is the Red Lion and as above, it has been a while since I’ve been in. The pub has a very ‘local’ feel about it, you could come back in 10 years and everyone would still be sat in the same seat. Not necessarily a bad thing but my point is that the place doesn’t feel welcoming to newcomers.

There are four hand pulls here, one of which was off when I went in. Rotating cask at a very cheap price of £2.50 a pint. I went for Wadworth 6X which was OK. When it’s £1.25 a half what more do you expect?

Their USP is that you can watch a Leeds United game on one of the many TV’s dotted around the place. It was just after 3pm on a Saturday when I was in, make of that what you will.

The Station

The third most frequented pub in our local area, but not for a while to be honest. A few years back there were not that many places to go watch Sky in a pub (locally) This was and still is one of them. TVs still dominate the walls here.

The bar is lined with lots of keg taps offering mainstream lager, John Smiths and Guinness. The four cask pumps (one of which looked to be permanently off) hosted London Pride, Black Sheep and Purity Bunny Hop. I was surprised to see Dead Pony Club and Tiny Rebel Club Tropicana cans in the fridges nestled amongst the usual bottled culprits you would expect to find.

As an example of the clientele this place tends to attract, there were six lads getting shots of jager at 1pm on a Saturday afternoon whilst watching the football. Not the best place for a quiet afternoon pint.

This isn’t my kind of place, but I definitely can see the pull; drinks, sport, and homemade pizza from an open kitchen. If you like that kind of thing.

White Cross

Another pub we don’t really get to much as its in the opposite direction to basically anything else in Guiseley. An Ember Inns run pub, so straight away you know what you are going to get. Ten cask pumps across two sides of the bar, however there are a lot of duplicates. I was happy to see the Adnams / Yeastie Boys collab, White Lies, on the bar. A white chocolate stout which was sweet and bitter. Then, your standard lager and Guinness taps here, but you will also find Kirkstall Three Swords on keg here too.

A warm, cosy, pub that you tend to find from this pub company, not bad for a nice local venue.

The Yorkshire Rose

Closed and re-opened, with more licks of different shades of grey paint more times than I can remember. Anyone who gets the licence to the place never seems to be able to pull in a steady crowd. Another place where you walk in and everyone seems to stop their conversations and stare at the ‘non-local’ who has just walked through the door. It’s small things like this that make it easy to see why they fail to pull new punters through the door.

The Yorkshire Rose had four hand pulls but only one was on. The beer was awful which I suspect was down to the pub rather than the brewery so I won’t mention what I had. Once again a place you will find all the ‘normal lagers’, but they did have a Guinness Open Gate Lager on. It was kitted out rather nice inside, neutral colours, everything was new, and I found myself thinking what a great place this could be. It needed a real shakeup, not just another lick of grey paint.

RIP (Rest in Pub)

The Regent

This was a place that had Sky, Pool, Darts then became a nightclub until the early hours. It closed down around five years ago now, probably due to too many police call outs dealing with late night trouble. It has now has been redeveloped into an office space.

Martha’s Old Ale House

This was situated in the same area as the New Inn and Red Lion but closed down over five years ago. Just never was popular unfortunately. The pub has since been redeveloped in to flats.

The Drop Inn

Sadly a pub that I never got to visit, but I do remember it well.  This was a pub since 1870 and sadly closed around 2010 and has now been redeveloped for houses.

So what did I learn from my visits? That it’s fine to stick to what you know and like but it’s good to at least try new/old places – you may just find a hidden gem. All venues won’t suite everyone and these locals that I didn’t enjoy seemed to at least know their market. At the same time though, it would be nice to see local pubs doing really well, progressing and reaching their full potential.

*Locals reading this may disagree with this figure. I based this on public houses. There are three working men’s clubs you could visit, with a member. Then there is Fusion, this is more of a night venue. I’m not going to call in a night club cos it most definitely isn’t! Then there is Morrison’s Cafe where you can get a pint of Saltaire Blonde. Definitely not allowed on this list.

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Tryanuary Pub Crawl

On the 6th January 2018, the social media for #Tryanuary will be taken over by the West Yorkshire team.  We thought about what to do, with the amount of great pubs and bars in the area, what better thing to do than have a pub crawl.

We’ll be heading to two places in Bradford then back in to Leeds.

Train from Leeds at 11.10am, getting to Forster Square just after 11.30am. Anyone in the Bradford area / not getting the train from Leeds, be at Venue 1 from 11.45am.

Venue 1 – The Sparrow (11.45am)

The original bier cafe, recently celebrating their 5th birthday.

 

Venue 2 – The Record Cafe (12.30pm)

An independent record shop, beer cafe and charcuterie.

 

Then to head to the station for the 1.30pm train in to Leeds.

 

Venue 3 – Decided by a Twitter Poll Northern Monk Refectory (circa 2.15pm)

Get some juice from the team Monk.

 

Venue 4 – Decided by a Twitter Poll Tapped (circa 3.30pm)

Maybe time for a slice of pizza?

 

Venue 5 – Decided by a Twitter Poll Whitelocks (circa 4.45pm)

Some of the best kept cask in Leeds is served in Whitelocks, great bottle at keg selection too!

 

 

Venue 6 – North Bar (circa 6pm)

All good things finish at North Bar.

 

Please feel free to join at anytime in the day, and / or dip in and out.

Leeds Beer Week 2016

With Leeds Beer Week 2017 just round the corner, we take a look back at 2016. Last year was great and we tried to get to as many events as we could – here’s a look back and a few of our thoughts. If 2016 was anything to go by, you’re in for a great week!

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Sunday : Launch Party (Northern Monk)

The launch party was held at Northern Monk Refectory, which was a relaxed affair with friends just kicking back and having a beer or two. It wasn’t so much of a party, but more of a chilled-out get together on a Sunday Bank Holiday to ease us all in to the week ahead.

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Monday : Exhibition (Brunswick) and Chimay Tasting (Head of Steam)

We were lucky enough to be asked by Mark Newton to be involved in the Yorkshire Beer Photography Exhibition. On Monday afternoon, we went up to the Brunswick to go have a look at the amazing pictures Mark had been collating over the past few months leading up to LBW. Mark has subsequently continued with his photography of all things Beer Yorkshire, you can see his website here.

In the evening we went to Head of Steam for a Chimay tasting.

If there was ever an event that was undersold; this was it. We felt the communications from Head of Steam were quite confusing leading up to the event and we weren’t really sure what we were in for (but loving Chimay and HoS we just had to go). However, for our £20 per ticket what we got was amazing value for money. There were five different Chimay beers each paired with food. Upon arrival we were greeted with a Geuze Mariage Parfait as a welcome drink and there were some appetizers on our tables to keep us going in the form of Chimay cheese brushcetta (yum).

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The first pairing was Chimay Doree with ham and cheese croquettes. Absolutely delicious and a sure sign of things to come.

Next up was a Chimay Première with sausage egg sliders and a Chimay brown sauce. The brown sauce was exceptional and really worked with this particular beer.

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We also got round to pairing Chimay Grand Reserve with chicken ciabatta, Chimay 1997 no need to pair due to how amazing & dusty this was,  then to finish, a Chimay triple with a Kerb Edge burger. Thanks to Chris and the team at HoS for a great evening. Looking back we both agreed this was our favourite and best value for money event of the week.

Tuesday : De Molen (Northern Monk)

The Dutch brewers had sent over some big beers for this tap takeover.

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It’s not very often we get to see this many De Molen beers on draught, so we had to pop along. After a few Impy Stouts and Barley Wines, things became slightly hazy! It was pretty busy as it also coincided with their weekly quiz hosted by A Tribe Called Quiz.

Wednesday: Rest day 

You need a rest day!

Thursday : Bottle Share (LLBH) and Legitimate Industries (North)

Before heading over to Little Leeds Beer House for the Bottle Share, we got some scran at Tapped and filled up on one of the lovely 18 inch pizzas.

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Bottle Share here is always one of our favourite things to do, you get to bring out those big bottles that you just cant drink on your own or you have saved for a special occasion. As always there were too many to get through! The guys at Monk had recently been over to the USA working and they brought a can of Tree House and a Trillium double IPAs for us to try.

As it’s a 9pm kick out at the Corn Exchange, it meant we all had time to head to North Bar for the Legitimate Tap Takeover. Having tried the APA and Pilsner, I was looking forward to trying their IPA and their Wheat Beer. What we didn’t take in to account was how busy it would be! It was crazy, so much so that by 9.30pm they had sold out most of their beer and the Wheat was the only one left. Lesson learned – don’t leave it too late if you want something, the events prove to be very popular.

Friday : Rodenbach Dinner (Northern Monk)

Before heading to Northern Monk we wanted to get to Tallboys for a beer or two and to pick up a special Leeds Beer Week/Tallboys collaboration tote.

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We had said to ourselves that we were going to have one big blow out event for LBW and when we saw that a Rodenbach Dinner at Northern Monk was on the agenda, we stamped this in the diary straight away.

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There was a party of around 20 of us all sat down in the actual brewery. The hosts from Rodenbach were Max and AB who talked us through the history of Rodenbach as well as each beer that was paired perfectly with the food.

The guys at Monk tried the beers beforehand and were drinking the first one of the evening with a packet of crisps and found out that this worked rather well(!). So the first course was loosely based around the concept of cheese and onions crisps; Shropshire Blue, Apple, Wood Sorrel on Hop Toast went superbly well with a Rodenbach Classic.

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Next up we had smoked goats cheese with the Grand Cru.

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For the fish course we had mackerel and raspberries which for me this was an unexpected delight. I do love fish, but not fruit and fish, many of the diners struggled to enjoy the fish aspect of this one. For the meat course we had venison chorizo paired with Caratiere Rouge, a beautiful pairing.

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Dessert was the best dish of the evening. Rossa with Mocha Porter ganache. I’m still drooling about this right now.

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Saturday : The Curious Summer Social (North Bar Social) and Mega Import Extravaganza (Veritas)

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In the evening we had booked tickets for a beer and food matching at Veritas, with Andreas Falt to talk us through the beers. For £25 you got to biggest sized portions of food you have ever seen each individually paired with a beer to match.
We were all shown to our tables and once we were all sat down, it became quite apparent that this was a different crowd to the other LBW events.  There seemed to be a few Veritas regulars along with a few that claimed to not like beer! Great to see people trying the beers though. Another great value for money event.
Sunday – Uniting Cities (North Brew)
On Sunday we headed up to North Brew Co for the Uniting Cities event. This was 2 x Leeds breweries and 2 x Manchester breweries; North Brew Co and Northern Monk vs Squawk and Track taking over the taps. Mango Lassi Heathen aside, the Track Double IPA was tasting rather spectacular. This was a proper Sunday, relaxed vibes, great tunes, Parm Star and the Magic Cycle also finished here with the riders starting to flow in from 3.30pm.
The LBW team only gave themselves 10 weeks to somehow pull-off this master stroke of a week, so they couldn’t get round to doing as many things as they wanted. We guarantee that this year is going to be even bigger and even better.
Keep an eye out for magazines due out this coming week. They’ll be heading to the cities and towns of the North with further details on this year’s events.
You can also look out for announcements of what’s happening on their websiteFacebook, or Twitter.
P.S. Matt Gorecki – we are still waiting on that badge of honour you promised us….

The bar is set

We’ve all been there. Sat in the new bar in the local town or city, thinking why have I brought myself here. I for one am sick of places opening promising so much, but failing to deliver on so many fronts.

There have been a fair few places over the last year that have opened, we’ve been in to give them a try and they’ve been such a let down. A regular feeling is that they have so much potential and could have been so much more. But they’re not. The likes of Everybody’s Social in our local town, Editors Draught in Leeds city centre and most recently Cafe Choux Choux at Keighley station. There is now another place to add to the ever growing list, Ten Bar, Duncan Street, Leeds. I am not one to often feel the need to post after every disappointing visit to a new venue, but I’ve had enough.

Their mission statement:

Ten Gins
Ten Vodkas
Ten Rums
Ten Craft Beers/Ales
Ten Cocktails

From the outside you can definitely tell that they have spent some money on the stripped back style decor. This is where the positivity stops and it unfortunately went downhill for me.

Below is Ten Bar’s offering of 10 Craft Beers/Ales. It was disappointing to see that they had no taps, absolutely nothing at all on draught – not even a lager.

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I have seen better beer selections in pubs in the middle of nowhere (a perfect opportunity for me to drop that we had Geuze Boon at The Three Stags’ Head in Derbyshire!). Its just embarrassing. The guys that have opened this have been in Leeds bars for years, but I get the feeling that they haven’t been out and looked around. Do some market research to go see what your competitors are offering, surely that’s common sense? I completely understand that every bar in Leeds doesn’t have to offer the same thing or appeal to the same audience but at least deliver what you’re offering as a base standard – and do it well.

I opted for an Easy IPA, safe choice. After what seemed like a lifetime the poor bar tender didn’t seem to know which of the eight beers was the Easy IPA and brought out a Punk IPA from the fridge; “is it this one?” Now I’m not having a go at her, its not her fault she hasn’t been properly trained on the eight (not ten) beers that are on offer here. “Would you like a glass”. Yes.

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Leanne was not swayed by any of the beers so opted for a gin. Her G&T was served in a tumbler with ice. No botanicals, no nice gin glass (although a couple of other patrons had large gin goblets with what looked to be sage). The Gin scene is really strong at the moment, not just in Leeds but in the UK. Everyone has raised their game and this was just disappointing. The only plus to this was at least she got Fever Tree Tonic.

Now to pay, how do you normally pay in a bar? Oh yeah, that’s it, the server puts the amount in the till and informs you of the price. Common sense? Not here. They have decided to adopt the arena/music venue style of payment where the bar tender has to spend ages finding the bar code stuck in various locations across the back of the bar, scan the correct one then use the till to take the cash. It didn’t make for an efficient serving experience, despite being the only group at the bar, with a small three drink order. What is this madness!

You are told to support your local gaff, which I am all for, but how can you do that when places cant even get the basics right, when they promise more than they offer. Pre-opening they seemed to be doing the right thing and talking to the right people but this doesn’t seem to have followed through to fruition.

There are too many places advertising ‘craft’ when describing their range, getting away with it and thinking the job is done. Stick to the audience you want in your bar and stop trying to draw people in under false pretences. If you’re not a bar that specialises in beer then fine,but don’t tell me you are.

Leeds has set the bar, aim to meet it.

Back to Amsterdam & Haarlem

We had a bit a of dilemma at the start of the year, I wanted to go to Budapest and Leanne wanted to go to Haarlem. We settled on doing both! Our previous post on what we got up to in Amsterdam / Haarlem can be found here.

This time we wanted to stay out in Haarlem (rather than our usual central Amsterdam) and explore more after loving our day trip there last year. We choose to say in the Lion D’Or Hotel which is right by the train station; we would highly recommend it.

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Friday

The train journey to Haarlem from the airport (with a change) is only 30 minutes, or is 20 minutes direct from Amsterdam Centraal. After checking into the hotel and dumping our bags we were on our way, set to explore. Having only booked a brief stay we wanted to make the most of the trip, so I made an agenda that we did actually stick to!

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Our Friday afternoon plan was to head to Jopen Waarderpolder and Het Uiltje’s respective tap rooms.  Both are only two minutes away from each other, however they are a good 30 minute walk from Haarlem central station.

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We used Google Maps and they were both pretty easy to find – a nice walk along the canal made for a pleasant afternoon mooch.

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Waaderpolder is the brew tap of Jopen’s, so you are sat above the actual brewery. On a hot day this made the tap room rather stuffy inside. We were both dehydrated from the walk so their wit beer was our first and obvious choice here (water? what’s that?!). A strong tap list; ten of their own beers, five collaborations and five guests. The food that was coming out from the kitchen looked superb, but on this occasion we were more thirsty than hungry so didn’t sample any of the offerings. A few more beers, a game or two of Fluxx and we were on our way to Het Uiltje.

Walking between these two venues very much felt like you were on a UK industrial estate, with a mixture of warehouses and offices. The Het Uiltje Tap Room has only been open just over a year and already has that nice cosy warn-in feel about it.

After speaking to Robert from Het Uiltje last March about his plans for cask, I was looking forward to trying some. Their Session IPA and Summer Wheat were both available and I opted for the Session, perfect for the weather.

The food offering here is pizza, cheese & meat boards and bagels, the latter being what we went for. Three cheese for Leanne and a BLT for me. Perfect for soaking up some tasty beverages.

Next beers up, we opted for a flight. Six beers from the menu for 15 euros, 15cl pours, which was great value for money for when you are wanting to try as many beers as possible! There is also a bottle shop selling a range of their beers and gifts for take-out.

Now, you can either make the walk back to the hotel/station or do what we did and get an Uber costing about 10 euros. This was more of a time saver though – it’s absolutely a walkable distance.

Once we had freshened up it was time to head to the local bars in the centre of Haarlem; Jopenkerk and Het Uiltje Bar. There isn’t actually a massive selection of beer pubs and bars in the centre of Haarlem but there are plenty of places to grab a drink and an abundance of gorgeous looking eateries. We just chose to re-visit this two as they are both great venues for an evening of good beer.

It was a busy Friday night out and about in Haarlem, with seats being at a premium in Jopenkerk. Luckily we managed to find a seat by the DJ booth (music wasn’t on until late into the evening so this wasn’t a bad spot).  Jopen serve a good selection of their own beers and have guest beers on too – probably at least 20 taps in total. Their own beers are really good and they offer a solid range. We like their glassware too! After having a few here, along with cheese and bitterballen we headed on to Het Uiltje’s bar in the centre of town. Its only a two minute walk down a (very pleasant) alley from Jopenkerk.

Saturday

Once we had got our money’s worth at the hotel breakfast, we walked down the main street linking the station and central Haarlem to Grote Markt where we had a relaxed wander around the market. Here you will find many cheese stalls trying to tempt you in with samples, flower stalls, bread stalls and a number of food traders. After a quick stop off at Melgers (huge) bottle shop to get a few beers and a Mikkeller Botanicals Gin, it was time to get the train into Amsterdam.

We haven’t been to Amsterdam in the height of summer before, so we weren’t prepared for the sea of people when we stepped off the train. Not going to lie, it was stressful. We darted down a quiet side street to find our way to the safety of In De Wilderman. This is an old favourite for us – really relaxed atmosphere and a great selection of beers. It has always been quite quiet when we have visited during the day and didn’t seem over-run with tourists (who were all outside soaking up the sun and taking selfies!). Leanne had a mint flavoured De Koninck!

Next on the agenda was to head to Oedipus a brewery tap room located across the water from central Amsterdam, an area we hadn’t been to before. After a couple of drinks in Wilderman we headed back to Amsterdam Centraal. To find the passenger ferry you need to walk right through the station to find the ferry that will connect you to Amsterdam Noord. I say ferry, it’s a large passenger boat for people and bikes. We had just missed one when we arrived but they are very regular and you only have to wait 15 minutes until the ferry comes back. Tip : head for the IJ Plein stop, you will have less distance to walk on the other side.

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Walking through the suburbs of Amsterdam Noord seems worlds away from the centre; blocks of flats dominate the skyline dotted with the odd mini supermarket, and that’s about it. It has none of the quirky charm and mis-matched wonky housing you find across the water. It is however more calm and away from the hussle and bussle.

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It only takes about 15 minutes to walk to Oedipus, and like most breweries it’s on an industrial estate. However, soon as you step inside, you are transported to a tropical themed oasis.

It was far too hot for a ginger to be sat outside so we sat indoors, played a few games and sampled their seasonal range of beers.

It just so happens that there is a food market right next door in a big warehouse. It’s basically a big independent supermarket, however there are hot food counters where you can get freshly made pizzas or various Thai dishes. The brewery didn’t have any food on offer during the day but as we left later on, they did have a food truck. The supermarket is handy if you need it.

Back in bustling Amsterdam we headed to a place that we shamefully had not visited during any of our previous trips; Cafe Arendsnest. The premise is simple; Dutch beer only here with over 50 taps and over 100 bottles in the fridges. It is easy to see why this cosy bar is a must visit.

After a short walk down Herengracht, we arrived at Beer Temple. This was strangely quiet for 6pm on a Saturday evening but it meant for a good window seat for people watching. They always have a great selection of beers on here, sometimes it’s hard to leave! However, after a few beers it was time to head back to Haarlem.

Earlier in the day we had seen some promo flyers for an event in Haarlem that evening. It was Haarlem Shopping Night. On this particular evening shops stayed open late (until about midnight) and they were offering discounts and deals, while some were hosting special events. Down at Grote Markt there was a small night market with food stalls and craft stalls, where Leanne was enticed to buy a necklace (unsuprisingly!). There was also band playing out of a caravan while the locals danced the night away.

After a long day we only had a few at Jopen and Het Uiltje then it was time to retire for the evening.

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Sunday

We woke on Sunday to what seemed to be the hottest day of the year, which is never ideal when having to lug around a suitcase. Flight times weren’t all that good going home, so we didn’t have as long as we would have liked in the Dam. Like our last trip, we decided to finish at De Prael. We were so eager to get there that we actually turned up 30 minutes before opening so just hung out in the sun for a bit and enjoyed the view of Amsterdam’s beautiful canals.

Soon enough 12pm came and bam! In we went and headed straight to the air conditioned corner. It’s very relaxed in De Prael and very near the train station so is a good place to hang out without being too far away when you need to start making your journey home. They serve their own beers only, along with some delicious looking food platters. Their shop is also round the corner if you want to pick up any treats to take home. Sadly we only had time for a couple and it was soon time to make our way to the airport.

As always after every Holland adventure, we say that next time we will go somewhere else and try visit somewhere new. This isn’t going to happen, we love the Dutch culture too much. Until next time proost!

Golden Pints 2016

2016 has been a big beery year for us. We have been lucky enough to get to Manchester more times than usual, along with trips to Newcastle, London, Amsterdam and Barcelona to name but a few great cities. As a result I (Simon), thought I would do my first ever Golden Pints contribution.

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Best UK Cask Beer: Track  – Sonoma

Like quite a lot of people this year, it has to be Sonoma. It has become a go to beer whenever I see it on. Whether it be fresh from the tap-room, a Saturday pint at the Turks Head or a celebratory beer at Stalybridge Buffet bar for Mark’s birthday it is always on top form.

Honourable Mention:  Magic Rock – Common Grounds

Best UK Keg Beer: Magic Rock  – Big Top

Tough one for me; Heathen or Big Top? Big Top just edges it. I suppose it’s because they brew this beast so rarely that I always make sure I get it whenever I see it. It still excites me.

Honourable Mentions:  Northern Monk – Heathen. Magic Rock – Bearded Lady Barrel Aged Bourbon Dessert Edition

Best UK Bottled Beer: Thornbridge : Days of Creation / Love Amongst the Ruins

I remember trying these beers for the first time at Manchester Beer Week’s Big Party at a Thornbridge tasting – they seem to have come from nowhere and just blew me away. I picked up two bottles of each and hope to enjoy one or two over the Christmas period.

Honourable Mentions:  Pressure Drop – India Rubber Ball. Buxton – Battle Horse.

Best UK Canned Beer: Northern Monk – Heathen

Probably one of the hardest categories as I think there have been a lot of great UK cans to come out in 2016 (and a lot of bad ones, but we wont go in to that). Heathen has to win it for its consistent, dank, juicy appeal.

Honourable Mentions:  Chorlton – Yakima Sour. Verdant – Pulp. Marble – Black Sunshine.

Best Overseas Draught Beer: Goose Island – Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout (2014)

We were lucky enough to be over in Amsterdam when the Goose Island guys came to town for a tap takeover. After spotting them in all the bars we visited around Haarlem we then headed to a jam-packed Beer Temple in the evening to find  BCBCS on tap. Such a complex and enjoyable Imperial Stout.

Best Overseas Bottled Beer: Oude Gueuze Tilquin a L’Ancienne

We seem to see more of this in the UK now and its such a pleasure to drink. I always seem to find myself adding it in my basket when in a bottle shop.

Best Overseas Canned Beer:  Evil Twin – Even More Jesus

I’ve drunk quite a lot of Tool cans this year and really enjoyed the Sur beers, but Even More Jesus from Evil Twin wins this one. Leanne and I shared a can at Arcade Beers in Huddersfield. We just sat for a bit laughing about how good it was then sat in silence not really knowing how to describe how utterly delicious it tasted.

Best Collaboration Brew:  Naparbier/Lervig – Theories of Conspiracy No4 – The Secret Society

Naparbier did eight collaborations with breweries from all over the world and when we visited their tap-room back in November they had a few of them on. This one with Lervig was a 11.7% Impy Stout. Delicious.

Honourable Mentions:  Magic Rock/Cloudwater/J.W.Lees – Three’s Company

Best Overall Beer: Northern Monk – Heathen

A beer that has over taken Gamma and Cannonball as a fridge staple now.

Best Brewery Branding:  Cloudwater

The designs on their bottles and pump clips are just amazing – eye-catching, modern and ever-changing.

Best UK Brewery: Northern Monk

I think myself very lucky to have such an amazing brewery right on my door step in Leeds. 2016 has been a big year for them, over 24 new beers have been produced in total. The consistency of their beers is second to none, whether it be can, keg or cask. 2017 is going to be a big year for them – watch this space.

Honourable Mention:  Wylam. Just go visit their tap-room if you haven’t.  In fact, stop reading this and jump on a train and get there now. The beer isn’t half bad either!

Best New Brewery: Verdant

I’d like to thank Sam for bringing these cans back to LLBH early in the Summer. The beers taste fresh and really drinkable. We took a few down to the local river on a hot summers day and they were just so damn good.

Best Pub/Bar of the Year: Bundobust

This summer when we were out at a festival or just for drinks, we survived on a diet of vada pav and okra fries –  a winning combination. It’s been great to see them grow & grow and now they have opened a Manchester branch, how long before a London bar? Who knows.

Honourable Mentions: Friends of Ham

Best New Pub/Bar Opening 2016 : Turks Head

Great selection of kegs beers and even though there are only 2 cask pumps, they are always of the highest quality. A staple on any Leeds bar crawl now.

Best Brewery Tap: Naparbier

Who said it had to be a UK one? Some of the best beers on show and the food was exquisite too.

Honourable Mentions: Northern Monk RefectoryWylam

Best Festival of the Year: Leeds Beer Week

A week that lasts 10 days. This was the first time that Leeds Beer Week had been held and in six weeks everything was put together for one unforgettable celebration of beer.

Honourable Mentions: Leeds International Beer Festival, London Craft Beer Festival

Best Supermarket of the Year: Booths

Like most people, I don’t tend to do much actual beer shopping in the supermarkets and try to buy from independents. However, saying that, Booths do stock some great beers and in the summer they did six beers for the price five. Only thing is that you need to keep an eye out of those BBD on the bottles/cans!

Independent Retailer of the Year : Little Leeds Beer House

There’s not much to say on this matter – what Rich and Bryony do here is second to none and they continue to stand out in this category for me.

Honourable Mentions: The Curious Hop and The Triangle

Small note on The Curious Hop –  2017 will hopefully see the shop open more in the evening for drinking in. Currently being trialled the odd month with a view to open most weekends in the New Year.

Best Beer Blog:  Beer Compurgation

I look forward to reading all of Mark’s posts, they are open, honest, thought provoking and always informative.

Honourable Mentions: Brew Geekery and Hopzine; whether it be YouTube or Periscope.

Simon Johnson award for Best Beer Twitterer: @beerdoodles because we love Dave’s doodles and the lightheartedness he brings to the beer world.

Honourable Mentions: @msswiggy

In and around Amsterdam

There are a few things that automatically spring to people’s minds when you tell them you’re going to Amsterdam; Prostitutes and Weed. We’ve had to remind a number of people that Amsterdam has way more to offer than these stereotypes. It’s a beautiful part of the world that we’ve found ourselves visiting time and time again.The Dutch people are wonderful and their beer is delightful. Here we take you through a few of our favourite places to visit in and around the city.

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Breweries

There are now over 15 breweries in the region of Amsterdam. Here are two that we have been fortunate enough to visit.

Brouwreij ‘t ij

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The ij (pronounced ‘eye’) is a body of water in north Amsterdam and this is where the guys at Brouwerij ‘t ij have taken their name from. The brewery itself is situated in the north east of the city and is based in an old windmill. It is about a 30 minute walk from Amsterdam Central Station. The tap room is open from 2pm each day, we arrived just before 2.30pm on a Saturday and were lucky to get a seat! We had been here a few years ago before our most recent visit and noticed the tap room has since been refurbished. However, we must say that we did prefer the old ‘rough and ready’ look of the place – it looks a bit generic on the inside now. Still – it’s a wonderful place to visit.

The brewery’s logo features an ostrich with an egg, and a distant windmill.You may have seen their distinctive labels or enjoyed one of the collaboration beers they do for the Wetherspoons Real Ale festival. They have a really strong core range of beers including a pilsner, red dubbel, wit, IPA, tripel and amber. A tasting tray of 5 beers will set you back 9 Euros.facebook_1458920134746

My stand out beer from our most recent visit was the Dry Hopped IJ Wit. This is their core IJ Wit which has been dry hopped with simcoe, cascade and citra. The flavours were just wonderful and it went rather well with the home cured salami and some soft cheese.

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Brouwerij ‘t ij is the kind of place you can spend all afternoon enjoying a beer, snacking on cheese and watching the world go by. It’s a really welcoming place that has a good mix of tourists and locals. We happened to sit next to a lady who had lived in Holland for over 20 years but was originally from Keighley! As we sat on a large sharing table chatting about the beauty of Holland while she switched between speaking Dutch to her friends and comfortably falling back into her Yorkshire accent with us, Brouwerij ‘t ij felt the nicest place to be.

Brouwerij De Prael

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De Prael is situated in the centre of Amsterdam bang in the middle of the Red Light District, probably last place you would expect to find a brewery. We had booked ourselves on a tour and tasting (only 17.50 Euros per person) to finish our long weekend in Holland. The tour itself was fascinating, we were surprised at how small the operation was here. We had walked past the shop many times before but never knew there was a  brewery at the back. Making the most of every nook and cranny, we climbed high up the staircases of those typically tall, thin Dutch buildings. We were the only people on the tour and were shown around by a really eccentric Dutch guy that worked at the brewery. It was a great session where he not only talked about the beer they brew but the history of the building and why they set up De Prael in the centre of the Red Light District.

 

De Prael are only just beginning to experiment with barrel ageing their beers. Our guide had told us how he came up with the name for one of them; Quasimodo. When he first tried it he took a step back and arched his back like the famous Victor Hugo character. He personally wasn’t behind barrel ageing and was happy enough brewing a nice pale beer. Interesting however to hear him say that at the end of the day the brewery is a business and that they need to keep making money.

Once the tour was over we were taken outside, down a side street and followed our guide down the canal. He was taking us to their bar which turns out to be a few doors down from the brewery. What a wonderful place it was!

We had no idea this bar was tucked away, hidden down a cobbled side street. It was like walking in to Aladdin’s cave. We were handed over to a waitress for the afternoon, who had reserved us a table. As part of our tour and tasting ticket we were seated and brought a taster tray of four De Prael beers. Our table was right in front of a brilliant jazz trio who mesmerised us the entire afternoon. If we hadn’t had to fly home that day, we wouldn’t have ever wanted to leave. Sipping a quad and listening to funky jazz is something that I highly recommend!

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Something nice we found when over in Holland is that with each paddle/taster tray there is always an extra slot leaving space for a glass for water. Simple touch, but something that the UK don’t really do.

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There are of course other breweries and micro pubs that we haven’t had chance to visit yet but would love to. There is Oedipus just over on the other side of the River IJ. Butchers TearsTroostAmsterdam BrewBoysTwo Chef’s Brewing to name but a few. The latter two are probably the ones to watch.

Bars & Pubs

Amsterdam is, like any other city, awash with bars and pubs. You can fully embrace the tourist areas if that’s what you like but there are a lot of hidden gems to explore if you’re prepared to walk around a bit and do your research in advance.

Beer Temple

Less traditional Dutch, this bar has an American feel with beer stickers and mats stuck on the wall and an impressive beer list chalked over the bar. Here you get a fairly even mix of tourists and locals. We went in twice on our latest trip and each time you just end up staring at the beer board wondering what to have next. Some of the delights that were on draft were Cantillon Kriek, Bourbon County Stout 2014 and Big Fat 5. The latter is a Beer Temple collaboration with Het Uiltje, a big-ass DIPA. We would highly recommend this beer if you can get your hands on it – it was absolutely delightful.

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Wanting to leave our mark we made sure that Leeds was fully represented on the beer sticker wall.

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Beer Temple is a great place to go and not too far from the central pubs in Amsterdam. It can get a bit busy and loud at peak times but it’s so worth it for the beer selection.

In De Wildeman

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What can we say about this place. Well, it is a must visit. In de Wildeman has the feel of your local pub with an amazing tap list. The building is an old Amsterdam distillery and it has to be one of the best places in the city to have a beer. There is no background music, just the pleasant chitter chatter of people from all over the world enjoying conversation over a beer. With about 18 taps the UK has a strong presence here, with the likes of Magic Rock, Buxton and Brew By Numbers on offer. After speaking to a local late one evening he said that they love the UK beers that get put on the bar. When we were in, Far Skyline was on and he couldn’t stop talking about it! That’s a real compliment to the great beers coming out of the UK right now. It’s not all about the UK though – the bottle list is something else – over 250 beers from all over the world to choose from.  If you’re are feeling a bit flash or celebrating something then ask for their ‘Big Black Book’ which has some treats hidden away in the cellar – the beer bible.

Cafe Gollem

Tucked down a side street just off from the main shopping area this is an old bar that is a classic place to visit. You will mainly find locals in here, it is not a place that you just stumble upon. It has a proper rough and ready feel about it. The walls are littered with beer bottles available to buy and there is a tap list of around 14 beers. If you are a bit claustrophobic then this place is not for you, not so much space in here so be prepared to get accustomed to your neighbour at the table. We think this really adds to the feel of it all though – especially when the weather is horrible outside. It’s cosy and warm and makes you never want to leave. Due to the size, Gollem is one of the few places in Amsterdam that is bar service rather than table service.

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Delirium Cafe

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You can’t get more north Amsterdam without crossing the River IJ than this. Situated right by the IJ, Delirium appears really out of the way and difficult to find but it’s only a 15 minute walk from Amsterdam Central. If you have been to Delirium in Brussels this one could not be more different in comparison. The bar is relaxed, has an amazing looking food menu, and more importantly – it’s clean inside! This is a relatively new bar on the Amsterdam beer scene,  opening at the back end of 2014. There are about 20 taps and the beer menu is more of a bible, you need two hands spare to lift it. We only had one drink in here but what we really liked here was how knowledgeable and friendly the waiter was. After deliberating for about 20 minutes on what beer to get, Leanne opted for a Amsterdam Brew Boys – White Label Coffee Red IPA. However, this was no longer on *sad face* but replaced with an Imperial Coffee Stout *happy face*.

Cafe de Gaeper

De Gaeper was one of the first bars we encountered on our early trips to Amsterdam many years ago and we always make sure we head back here. Don’t be expecting anything too fancy, the usual staples, but make sure you try the Texels – Skuumkoppe; a dark moreish wheat beer. The bar staff are more than happy to talk you through the beer selection.  The food is great here, a big hearty affair. Sat outside eating a Cafe de Gaeper burger with a beer is the perfect way to spend your afternoon.

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Cafe De Doelen

Just across from De Gaeper is De Doelen, another of our original favourites. We can’t visit Amsterdam without going here. The pub has an adorable white and ginger cat the walks about like it owns the place. In the four times we’ve been here we’re happy to see the cat still reigns! Expect to see a small amount of local beers on draught with a solid bottle list. The surrounding area is a bit quieter too so you will usually only find locals here.

Cafe Fonteyn

A bar situated on Nieuwmarket could appear to be quite commercial from the outside, but it has a lovely little cafe vibe on the inside.

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Not too many options on draught here, only about six taps, but you get a good selection of local breweries here once again. Oedipus – Mama on tap was especially good.

Cafe Stevens

Not too far from Fonteyn is Cafe Stevens. Upon entering the big heavy door and through a velvet red curtain you will enter the bustling bar. Always a great atmosphere here, good music and good beers to get through.

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A trip to  Haarlem…..

For the first time we decided to venture out of Amsterdam for the day so we hopped on the train for 15 minutes and arrived in Haarlem. Immediately you know that you are away from the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam, you feel at ease in the town and super relaxed. There are many things to do in Haarlem that don’t revolve around beer, you can read up on the top 10 here, however we were here for the beer (and the food).

Jopenkerke

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Jopen have a few bars in and around Amsterdam and Haarlem –  we went to visit the flagship bar Jopenkerke. The building is quite stunning, an old church with a brewery, a massive bar, a restaurant and space for bands to play too. After a really knowledgeable and super friendly waiter had sat us down it was time to order some beer. Not knowing where to start we asked if they did taster trays, his response; ‘how many do you want’? From a list of over 14 Jopen beers on tap we played it safe with just 8. We can’t recommend visiting here enough. As well as the large selection of Jopen beers they do also have a few guest beers on too. With this being quite a popular place to go we were very lucky to get a table in here, many people were coming in for drinks and food.

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Het Uiltje 

A short walk from Jopenkerke is Het Uiltje (don’t ask how to pronounce this, I have asked many people and get a different answer each time!) This bar was a real find.

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The 30 taps on offer have a great selection of beers from far and wide including Het Uiltje own brews. Taster trays were only 12 Euros for ANY beer. We were lucky enough to be in when the Mikkeller 1000 IBU was on. If you are feeling peckish, later in the evenings they do some cracking looking pizzas.

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Since we were there in March, Het Uiltje have opened up a tap room up at their brewery. This is a 10 minute walk north of the train station. After having a chat with Robert  (the owner) in the bar he told us of his love for cask beers, so expect to see some cask beers here.

Melgers

When we were exploring the town of Haarlem we stumbled across a wine and beer shop, that had one of the most extensive beer selections we have ever seen. There was a big selection of Dutch breweries, Belgian, Danish, USA and even a few from England. We still talk about how we should have picked up that bottle Mikkeller Simcoe Gin! The shop just seemed to go on and on and on….

I’d call in just for a browse, even if you don’t manage to take any home.

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Amsterdam has always been a favourite of ours and I’m sure we will visit again. However, Holland on the whole seems to have a lot to offer and we would love to explore it more. We’d really like to visit the Oedipus Brewery and we would probably look into spending a bit more time in Haarlem as it was a wonderful place to visit. If you ever find yourself in the wonderful city of Amsterdam be sure to explore beyond the tourist areas and see the charm that lies beneath.