More Beer Travels in the North
I spent much of Easter Oop North with my usual drinking companion, Megan Davies.
We weren’t of course just drinking but seeking out interesting food and checking out some of the magnificent buildings to be found.
We used to do this a fair bit at Easter (primarily in York and environs) but in recent years have been attracted by the Craft100 in Clapham (which didn’t run this year) and Brodies Bumny Basher (which did but was publicised late).
Looking back at posts for 2013/14 I note my view that ‘craft keg’ was making some headway in the North but cask was still king. Matters I think are now much more evenly balanced.
First stop was Hop City Leeds at the Northern Monk brewery in central Leeds (I’ll post separately on that). While in Leeds we also stopped off at some old friends- Friends of Ham, whose beer range remains excellent and Bundobust, whose food and beer range are also excellent. Subtle changes have taken place. Bundobust now has (I think) more hand pumps to go with the vegetarian Indian food. Without doubt the more interesting beers at Friends of Ham (which is as much as anything a place for great meat and cheese) were on the keg side although a commitment to cask remains. We also stopped by Leeds Brewdog opposite the Corn Exchange, whose historic location makes it one of my favourite of their bars. Finally we stopped by Little Leeds Beer a bottleshop actually in the Corn Exchange. Little it may be but the beer range was good and decently priced.
Travelling to Huddersfield on Saturday we made a belated first visit to the Magic Rock Brewery tap (again I’ll post separately) but it was good to see a mix of cask and keg on there in appropriate proportions. We didn’t in the end visit The Grove as planned but did stop by The Sportsman. That had more cask than keg by some distance but looked like a good community focused pub.
In short it would be difficult to claim that craft ‘keg’ was now any less easy to come by in the North than down Sarf- and prices are quite similar, which may be an issue in some cases. Cask is still very much there but I think there is a job to do to make sure that what is on cask is as ‘interesting’ as the craft for the nuanced drinker. Session IPAs can be a good answer here but weren’t really that much in evidence at the weekend.
Still, combined and uneven development in beer is at work here