Thursday, February 19, 2009

John Betjeman in Leeds

...Recently, the BBC announced that they were considering showing John Betjeman's 1968 film A Poet Goes North. For some reason the BBC never showed it, despite commisioning the poet to create what looks to be a poem to a city he admired and the changes that were happening to it under his nose.
Why am I telling you this? Well, despite being full of bygone Leeds stuff (which it may surprise you to know is a bit of a passion of mine), Mr Betjeman visits Whitelocks - and we have a wonderful segment showing some of that wonderful interior work, most of which still exists today.
Whitelocks may have wobbled in terms of beer (both choice and quality) in my times, but you can't deny that the interior is wonderful, and truly one of a kind in Leeds - only The Garden Gate in Hunslet comes close in my mind, in terms of preservation. Betjeman's love of Whitelocks, along with the other 'Alley pubs' in Leeds was well documented: he declared it to be 'The very heart of Leeds.'
Keep an eye out for the film: an excerpt can be seen here and the Whitelocks section is towards the end.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Trio of Wheats

...Going through a bit of a Wheat phase at the moment... I'm not sure why, maybe it's a purge from all that heaviness over Christmas. So, in keeping with this, I decided to have an afternoon sampling all the Wheats I had sitting in the cellar.

First up, Little Valley's Hebden's Wheat. A regional brewery I'm really getting into recently: head brewer Wim Van Der Spek seems to have a canny knack for taking traditional styles and twisting them around a bit; making the ordinary seem a little more eccentric. Bottle conditioned, organic Hebden Wheat is a bright, straw colour with a fair bit of haze - as you'd expect. A quick sniff gives you a really earthy, almost horse-blanket (as i beleive the term to be amongst the professionals!) aroma; but the taste is pure coriander up front, and then followed by tons of sherberty lemon. I've never tasted anything quite like it; and to be honest I quite liked it. The spirit of adventure is alive and well in Cragg Vale, it would seem. Keep up the good work. Nice website, too.

It's across the pond now; of course it is - my love for American Beers knows no bounds - Blue Moon Brewing Co's Belgian White. And one look at this label had me sold; wonderful stuff. As for the beer - well, it looked the part: hazy, creamy yellow, and a great citrus nose. However, for me, the taste did'nt quite live up to the hype; very thin body and massive citrus - that all important spice coming on way too late and nowhere near prominent enough. Oh well.

Finally, back to the UK and the ever-ready Meantime Wheat. Pouring much more golden than the previous two, this was lesson in balance: a noseful of banana, vanilla and possibly cloves, and a much more warming taste than the previous two. Taste-wise, Citrus seems to play second fiddle to the full, tasty wheat body - but still managing to be a refreshing Wheat beer.

A good afternoon of tasting, that. I might try and group together more sessions according to style!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Beer Fests Coming Up

Now that (an albeit Arctic) 2009 is well and truly underway, those Beer Fests are starting to pop up. There's a few happening locally, so get along, buy your tokens and get sampling. Support your independent brewers.

Boston Spa Beer Festival 2009 - Feb 21st (one day)
Boston Spa Village hall, LS23 6AA
20+ local beers, food, entartainment, starts 12 noon. Direct bus (770) to/from Leeds runs well into the evening.

Bradford Beer Festival -Feb 26th - 28th (Thu-Sat)
Victoria Hall, Victoria Road, Saltaire, BD18 3JS, 2 mins walk from Saltaire Railway Station
100+ real ales, cider and foreign beer.

Harrogate Charity Beer Festival -Feb 26th - 28th (Thu-Sat)
Harrogate International Centre, Kings Road, Harrogate, HG1 5LA
Good selection local beers , starts at 6pm each day. Entry ticket required.

Leeds CAMRA Beer, Cider & Perry Festival 2009 - Mar 19th-21st (Thu-Sat)
Pudsey Civic Hall, Dawson's Corner, LS28 5TA, 4 mins walk from New Pudsey Railway Station
150+ real ales, 20+ cider & perry, Global Beer Bar.

Horsforth Beer Festival - Mar 27th - 28th (Fri-Sat)
St. Margaret's Parish Church Hall, Church Road, LS18 5LQ
40 beers plus food and entertainment, building the future appeal fund.


North Bar Belgian Bier Fest 09 - Apr 2nd-16th (Thurs for 2 weeks)
24 New Briggate, Leeds, LS1 6NU
Unusual, rare and classic Belgian beers alongside the usual treats.

Guiseley Factory Workers Club 3rd Beer Festival -Apr 3rd - 4th (Fri-Sat)
6 Town Street, Guiseley, LS20 9DT
20 real ales and 2 ciders.

Barnsley Beer Festival - Apr 10th-13th (Fri-Mon)
Milton Hall, Elsecar, S74 8EZ
5 Minutes from rail station
40 real ales from local and Cumbrian breweries

Doncaster's 19th Beer Festival - Apr 16th-18th (Thu-Sat
The Hub, Chappell Drive, DN1 2RF, The Waterfront College building
90+ real ales, ciders and foreign bar

Further North - April 16th - 24th (Thu- next Fri)
194 Harrogate Road, Leeds, LS7 4NZ
Selection of Belgian beers

3rd Skipton Beer Festival - Apr 23rd-25th (Fri-Sat)
Town Hall, High Street, Skipton, BD23 1DT
60+ Real Ales, Cider, Perry, Fruit Wine, European bottles

If you're holding or organising a festival, be you a events organiser or a landlord, and you want to let TGS know - give me a shout on the email above.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Taddington Moravka @ The Maltings, York

It's not often I need an excuse to go drinking in York. There are plenty of great pubs, spots to eat, and pints upon pints of good beer to be had. The cherry on the cake, however, has to be The Maltings' latest addition: Taddington's Moravka.

After lusting after this stuff for some time now - spurred on by Stonch's rightful championing of it - a pint was finally in my hands. And, lord, was it something. If this is the case for unpasteurised beer, then sign me up.

John, Sharon and I sat down and drunk: perfect citrussy, clean lager, but with an awesome creamy malt backbone, with a really interesting yeasty note lurking within. In perfect nick, the head was something to behold: billowing, fluffy and never dying. We tried to put what we were tasting into words, but at the risk of sounding like 'Beer Twats' we just shut up and drank. Talking was eating into drinking time.

I'm converted - if only all Lager could be like this. Much like pretty much everyone who drinks it, Moravka is now installed in my top ten list of beers, somewhere around the top.

Shaun, landlord at the Maltings, was more than happy to talk Moravka as he poured, and he proudly stated that it should now be on constantly at The Maltings. Clearly proud of the beer, the fact that he took time to talk aduring a packed lunchtime (and it was heaving) tells you what you need to know. Shaun wanted it here, and he took time to pursue it. The Fuller's London Porter was on storming form as well.

And that's just one more reason to visit York for beer.

I did try and take a picture of the pint for you, but pictures of pints in dark, packed pubs taken on cameraphone usually turn out crap. Rest assured, it looked as good as it tasted. During our afternoon out in York we visited the Evil Eye Lounge for some draught Kupper's Kolsch and sampled the Blue Moon Wheat beer, as well as a couple of pints of White Horse's Village Idiot at The Last Drop Inn.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Garlic & Mushroom Pork with Herbed Roast Potatoes

This easy to make, quick recipe has a cosy, wintry feel – perfect for these darker, colder nights. It’s easy to make but looks great, and tastes pretty good, too!

You will need:
One pork tenderloin, cut into inch-thick medallions (you should get about 8 medallions)
Roasting Potatoes – about four per person
Goose fat
Olive oil
200g Double Cream
Garlic (4 Cloves)
Seasoning (Salt, Black Pepper, fresh Thyme & Rosemary, chopped)
Fresh Parsley, chopped.

1. (For the roast potatoes) Preheat the oven to 200C – Chop the potatoes into chunks and dust in plain flour. Add the chopped herbs, coat, and then transfer to a roasting tin. Add the goose fat, and roast for about 30 mins, basting with the fat every ten minutes or so.
2. When the potatoes are cooked, Slice the pork into medallions, about half an inch thick. Heat your griddle pan until hot, and then sear the pork on each side. When cooked to your liking, take off the pan and leave to rest.
3. In a good pan, melt one knob of butter, and add the chopped garlic. Leave to sauté for a minute or so, and then add the chopped mushrooms. Add a little more Olive Oil, and then turn down the heat and add the Double Cream. Season with crushed black pepper and warm through.
4. Arrange the pork on the plate and pour the sauce on top. Serve with the potatoes and some steamed greens such as Spinach and Runner Beans.

There – I said it was easy! I served this with Saltaire's Goldings Ale – light, golden, fragrant and sharp, the beer offers enough bite to cut through the strong garlic and herb flavours, yet is mellow enough not to overpower. Saltaire are producing some great beers right now - in fact, I enjoyed a couple of pints of thier Rye Smile only last night - a great, fresh session ale. Cheers!