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.


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.


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.

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.


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.

AMS 2013


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


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.


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


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!


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.


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.


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


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


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.


Delirium Cafe


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.


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.


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.


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).



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Wilde Child Brewing

Leeds has a new and exciting brewery in the region; Wilde Child. I met up with Keir, founder and head brewer, over a beer to chat about what’s in store for this new venture.


Tell us a bit about Wilde Child?

‘I firstly wanted to name the brewery Loose Cannon, but after doing some research I discovered that there is already one Oxfordshire. After a few more ideas, I opted for Wilde Child as Wilde is my surname; Wilde by name, Wild by nature! I first started brewing about 6 years ago and I’ve been honing my recipes since then.’

Where was your first commercial job as a brewer?

Well I remember when I first met you & Leanne  –  it happened to be my leaving do from where I was working at the time (we have a mutual friend in Gareth). I was leaving my job to start at Elland Brewery as an assistant brewer. I think I may have been a bit naive in thinking it was going to be amazing, it was hard work and I wasn’t really sold the right job. I ended up doing a lot of deliveries and it wasn’t for me. After looking on SIBA I saw that Saltaire were looking for an assistant brewer to help with the recipes and try to improve them. I got an interview with Tony the following Tuesday and within an hour of finishing the interview they had offered me the job! After a few years there I wanted to take the plunge and go out on my own. Adrian Chapman (now of Wishbone) helped me out a lot and gave me lots of advice so that I would be ready when I finally made the move.’

What beers do you currently brew?

‘We have a Dopplebock called ‘Creature of Doom’ coming in at 8.2%, a super malty and sweet beer. A Bourbon Imperial Stout called ‘Instant Hobo’, a boozy 9% brew. I did play around with some vanilla in there but I thought it made it just a bit too sweet. This does not drink its abv, more like a 5.5%-6% so you have to be careful! Next we have a Triple IPA, ‘Hop Strosity’ a big 10.5% TIPA. Once again like the Instant Hobo this does not taste that strong and is more like a 6.5%-7% beer. I wasn’t aware of Un-Human Cannonball and I have been tweaking this recipe for about a year now so I didn’t want people to think that I was trying to copy Magic Rock. I have a new beer that is about to go out next week, a black IPA called ‘Hades Beckons’ coming in at 6.66%’.’

Any particular reason as to why the beers you brew are quite strong?

‘I like big flavours and big malty beers, this usually only tends to come with high percentage beers. I don’t try to copy or clone beers, an idea just pops in to my head and I play around with it and see what happens!.’

Have you any plans to do a collaboration with anyone?

‘With the upcoming Leeds Beer Week I am hoping to be able to sit down with Matt from Zapato to try and organise something for this.’

Where can we buy your beers?

‘I’ve been busy dropping off samples everywhere and am super happy with the feedback. I even managed to get some samples to Roger Protz who was raving about my beers on Twitter! Kirkstall Bridge have been really supportive and had a cask of Instant Hobo and the Hop Strosity that went down well. They are taking a cask of Hades Beckons too. Arcadia in Headingley want to get hold of my beers, along with The Fox in Shipley, Fanny’s Ale House and Cap and Collar in Saltaire. You can buy my bottles in Fuggle & Golding in Ilkley, Arcade Beers in Huddersfield, Bier Huis in Ossett, Raynville Superstore in Armley and I have 24 of each going out to Beer Ritz in the next few days’

Keir was kind enough to bring along some bottles for me to try. Here are my thoughts on them.

Creature of Doom


I can’t say I’ve actually tried many Dopplebocks so I don’t have much to go on here. What gets you first on the nose is a big sweet smell. The initial taste straight away is of  bubblegum and lots of balanced sweetness. I think the keyword here is balanced, it’s not too sweet and the malt helps everything come together. Further down the glass it was nice to see the lacing follow right to the end. The strength does come through in the taste I think but not in an overpowering way. I really enjoyed this beer and it was nice to have something a bit different.

Hop Strosity


There are so many UK brewers that are knocking out good DIPAs and TIPAs at the moment, it has become such a popular style. This is a big monster and you definitely know about it. Pouring with a light white fluffy head and a lovely hazy orange colour that makes it look really appealing. It has a fruity nose but actually tastes more bitter than the smell would lead you to believe. As Keir said previously, this doesn’t taste the 10.5% it is – more like a solid 7% IPA.

Instant Hobo


This is a Bourbon Imperial Stout, need I say more! Lovely dark and rich colours with a strong red head. Straight away I can see why Keir has left out the vanilla, that would have made it far too sweet. The bourbon is so subtle, but you know it’s there. As with the other beers the key feature for me is how smooth and well balanced it is. The smoothness for me makes it a really good drinker without having one massive flavour that punches you right in the face. I think this contributed to how drinkable it was and the fact that it didn’t feel like I was drinking a 9% stout. Personally, this was my favourite out of the three.

These beers were given to me as a kind gesture and did not influence my opinion of them.



Me and Leanne are not ones for making New Year’s Resolutions, but what we like to do is make a list of plans for the year. One of these was to simply explore the beer scene in Manchester more, so when Track announced they were having a joint brew tap with Squawk, we were straight on with booking the train tickets.


We arrived in a lovely (wet) Manchester and decided that we would go and visit an old friend, Bryony, at 57 Thomas Street. The bar has recently been refurbished and we have to say, it was looking great. Downstairs is fairly minimal but nevertheless an inviting space. Here there are a number of keg lines, predominantly Marble, along with a few guests. There is also a good selection of games at the end of the bar – perfect for a rainy Saturday afternoon.


All of the core range of the Marble beers are under £4 a pint – really good value. Straight in with a Lagonda then please!


Our ‘guide’ for the day, Mark, soon ventured in from the pouring rain and we headed up to the newly opened first floor where the cask range is. I say cask, it’s gravity cask so straight from the barrel. Personally I prefer my cask on hand pull to give a bit more body. I tried the New IPA from Marble – the flavours were great but it was just lacking the body that comes from a great hand pull. After a quick game of giant ‘Jenga’, sorry, ‘Jeronimo’, with Bryony and her sister it was time to head over to Track. There was no way we were walking, so a taxi was essential.


We arrived at the row of railway arches, with no sign of a party. All of the arches seemed to be closed, but luckily we had been to Track when the Manchester Beer Expo was on so I knew we were in the right place.


Now, for us, Track produce some of the best cask pales that the UK have to offer right now so this was one of the main reasons to go over the Pennines and sample the delights straight from the source. There was a great range of keg beers from both Track and Squawk as well as cask from Track. I opted for the 5 Alive (Squawk) to kick things off. I was expecting this to be a juicy banger, however it was a little too bitter and not lot of juice. Leanne just told me to get her anything from Track (she loves them), so Mazama was my option for her. This is a great solid IPA, highly drinkable and fruity. I think it’s a sign of a good brewery when you ask for any of their beers, knowing whichever one you get will taste good.


Tom soon joined us after stopping off on his way home from Liverpool. However, he was very disappointed by the lack of tagine -it seems that amongst all the joking he hadn’t realised that today was a tagine free day. What they did have was delicious Columbian street food from Arepa Arepa Arepa, the perfect accompaniment to a beer.


It soon filled up at Track so it was time to head somewhere new. After Mark took us through a short cut that wouldn’t look out of place in Silent Witness, we made it to Picadilly Tap. This place always has a great beer list but for us, there just seems to be something missing. It’s an OK stop off if you want a nice beer while waiting for the train, but the decor is a tad cold and it just feels slightly unfinished. I went for Cloudwater – Winter Range – IPA on keg- what a winner!

We were on pre-booked trains so we had to strategically plan on our next watering hole allowing us to end up at Victoria Station in good time. We decided to go and re-visit Bryony at 57 Thomas Street and finish off there before heading home. The bar was much busier now it was later in the evening – the atmosphere was really good – not absolutely packed but nice enough to feel like a Saturday night. After a few more Lagondas (and a Dirty Girty for Mark) it was time to leave our ‘guide’ and dash for the train.

We have visited Track twice now and not been disappointed either time, so we will be over for another brewtap some time soon. As for 57 Thomas Street, well its a 10 minute walk from Manchester Victoria or Manchester Picadillily  – it’s definitely worth a visit.

Simon’s beer of the day – Cloudwater, Winter Range IPA, 8%

Leanne’s beer of the day – Track, Mazama, 5.5%


IndyMan – Travel Arrangements

As there are going to be quite a few of us getting the train from Leeds on Saturday 10th, why not get the same train and share a taxi at the other end?

Me and Leanne will be getting the 10.20am train from Leeds, getting in to Picadilly at 11.13am.

One thing to note, on Saturday 10th it is the Rugby League Grand Final at Old Trafford on this day. Leeds Rhinos will be playing. Kick off isnt till 6pm, so the trains back to Leeds might be busy from 9pm.

Anyone who wants to join us, we shall see you on the platform #trainbeers #traingrowlers

St Helier & St Malo

For our summer holiday this year me and Leanne went to visit my sister, and her soon to be husband, over in Jersey including a short trip to St Malo for a few days.

St Helier

We went over to Jersey a few years ago and you would be right in thinking that there isn’t much choice beer wise. There is a wide variety of pubs and bars to go to but looking a little closer you will see that over 50% of them are owned by the Liberation Group. There’s nothing wrong with their beers, just that they are, in our opinion, your run-of-the-mill cask ales. Back in February this year my sister had told us about a new craft bar opening in the centre of town. We were straight on Google and did some research.

The place in question is Apples and Pears, run by the Chairman of Jersey CAMRA. John is not your stereotypical CAMRA Chairman – he has a passion for both craft beer and real ale. When we arrived at Apples and Pears we were greeted by the likes of Dead Pony Club, Smog Rocket and Kozel. You would expect these to be quite pricey considering how difficult it must be to get beers across to the island but you would be wrong. We were pleasantly surprised; £4.40 a pint for DPC and only £4.90 for Smog Rocket. The cask selection wasn’t too bad either, a mixture of ales from the South of England and Yorkshire, although no sparkler which is essential for a nice Yorkshire pint!. In total there were 6 keg beers, 8 casks and 3 local ciders, along with a good selection of bottled beers. After a few beers we went for a curry at Tamarind, the food here was spectacular and the service was top notch. After a few bottles of of King Cobra and a few shorts, it was time to leave as we had an early start the next day.


St Malo

We are sticklers for research so we tried our hardest to try to find out what the beer scene was like in St Malo. We found lots of bars, but not much information on them. Luckily, my sister and her other half have visited many times before so we relaxed a little and let them guide us around.

We did manage to find out that there was a little micro-brewery so we were eager to go there. At Les Brassins de St Malo you can actually see the fermenting vessels in the very tiny bar/brewery. I believe they brew three beers in total but they only had two on when we visited. La Saint Malo is a strong fruity 7% blond ale and La Port Malo is also a blonde ale at 5%. The La Port Malo has a slight sour taste to it leading to a fruity citrus finish. An unusual taste but quite refreshing.


We visited Les Brassins de St Malo twice. It was a great place to go for bar food – we had sardine pate with toast and a selection of delicious meats and cheeses – a great accompaniment to the beer. On the first visit there was an intimate gig taking place, with a solo guitarist and singer sat up on the brewery kit. We’re not sure how he fit up there but he did and the sound was great.


The bars in St Malo are mainly bottled based with each bar only having 2-4 pumps on at a time and around 10 bottles to choose from. What was great to see was that most of the beers were actually French, rather than imports, so we got to try a number of beers we hadn’t tried before. Most of them were average, but there were two for us that really stood out.

Le Chat Malo by Brasserie de Bretagne. This is a take on an American Red Ale. Its not going to change the world but it was a really enjoyable drink. You have the malty notes that you would expect from the style but also a freshness you would usually get from a Belgian Blonde.


Duchess Anne Triple Hop from Brasserie Lancelot, a brewery in Le Roc-Saint-André. I had a bottle of the standard Triple the night before which was a good nod to the Belgian style. The Triple Hop version is more of a take on an IPA. It pours light, bright and yellow with a fruity and bitter taste. Plenty of hops! It reminded me of Duvel 2014 tripel hop and was by far the best beer of the trip.


Like all great places, we just happened to stumble across our favourite bar in St Malo. We were bar hopping and the rain started to come down quite heavy so we dived in the nearest place; L’excalibur.


L’excalibur is only a small place with only two taps but a good bottle selection. Quite like a small old English pub, complete with the local cat strolling in and out of the rain for shelter, this place was so welcoming and cosy. Like all pubs should have, there were plenty of games to keep you entertained. We grabbed a pack of cards and taught my sister’s partner a family favourite while enjoying the beer and waiting for the rain to pass.


It wasn’t just all about beer – we had some cracking food whilst we were there. We made a small trip across the bay to a little market town called Dinard. There was a great local market with all the food you could possibly imagine; fresh fish, french cheese, delicious meats and wines. We did a ‘Supermarket Sweep’ and split up to gather some delights for a picnic by the beach. This was the end result:


The ice creams weren’t half bad either…


Although at first thought, maybe not the most exciting places to visit for great beer, St Helier and St Malo turned out to be quite surprising. We had some great beers, some amazing food and most importantly, great company. We had such fun catching up with family, for the first time in a while, we didn’t even really care what we were drinking……it was just a bonus that the local offerings turned out to be quite delicious!

Simon’s beer of the trip – Brasserie Lancelot – Duchess Anne Triple Hop, 7.5%

Leanne’s beer of the trip – Brasserie Lancelot – Duchess Anne Triple Hop, 7.5%