Did you know there are around 1000 Young Members (YM) in Yorkshire? I bet that surprised you. As everyone’s spread over a large area and always busy it can be difficult to meet up with other YMs, which is where a Regional YMs’ Social comes in. On a sunny Saturday afternoon in late August we held our inaugural event, a walk along the canal from Kirkstall to Rodley visiting the pubs enroute with a little bit on top.
We met in Tapped in the city centre, an easy place to get to whether travelling by train or bus, and sampled their wide range of beers. Two of us tried Magic Rock Simpleton (2.6%) because we wanted to know if a beer at this alcohol by volume (ABV) could still deliver full flavour. And it certainly did. A lot of people will be put off buying a beer of low ‘strength’ but there really is no reason other than perception. On a previous branch brewery tour, the brewer said one of the hardest beers to brew is a low ABV one. There’s a small market for these beers so breweries that produce them must be confident of their quality and parity of flavour compared to regular ABV beers as was the case here.
Anyway, back to the event itself. Once all congregated, we hopped on a bus to Kirkstall Abbey for a quick bit of culture and see one of Leeds’ sites given many people weren’t from the city having come from all over God’s Own County including Bradford, Ossett, Sheffield, Thirsk and Wakefield. And let’s not forget West End House pub is about 3 minutes away! One person knew far more about Kirkstall Abbey than I did though he does currently work for English Heritage but will be joining Whitby Brewery shortly.
In the aforementioned pub upon seeing the interesting selection of 4 or 5 ales one of the group ironically joked that they wanted John Smith’s Smooth. The barman missed the banter and was apologetic that they didn’t stock it but had Worthington Creamflow instead! Beers from Goose Eye and Naylor’s were what most people opted for and they were certainly not disappointed. Big banners outside advertised the twice weekly quiz: it’s a couple years since I last took part but it was one that stood out as being very enjoyable, fast paced and inclusive of all individuals and teams irrespective of ability at traditional pub quizzes. Do you fancy a quiz night social here?
Just down the road is Kirkstall Bridge Inn (Pub of the Year for the second year running) where we joined members on one of the regular branch socials. It was great to see some new faces at the event who had recently moved into the branch area and others who I’d not seen for a while. Across the two socials there were around 35 people enjoying the afternoon. The YMs stayed on for a bit extra to allow fair chance to sample a selection of the four Kirkstall Brewery beers, these sometimes being hard to locate for many non-Leeds members, and four guests. With two dark beers plus a strong one (Kirkstall, Generous George, 6.1%) available I was quite happy to spend extra time lapping up the sunshine in the beer garden. (The garden was completely flooded in November and made national news because two people still ‘enjoyed’ a pint outside despite being up to their chest in water!)
Conscious of still having five pubs to visit we made a move and enjoyed a pleasant 1.5 mile/2.5 km or so walk along the canal watching fisherman waiting for that elusive catch, listening to a range of cheery birdsong and laughing at dogs leaping in to the water to reach their new favourite stick. The Abbey Inn (Community Pub of the Year complete with large banner celebrating this achievement) greeted us and Martin, the landlord, was his usual jovial self. An interesting choice of 6 ales that included a dark one plus some well-regarded bottled beers were available. However, my favourite ale was Little Daughter from Voracious Vole, a 6.1% stormer that reminded me of a Belgian trippel. Another of their excellent brews was available on a previous award evening at the pub with the wares, I believe, from a home brewer who lives just around the corner.
Another stroll of the same length brought us to Rodley with the first port of call The Crown and Anchor. On each of my visits there’s been a single ale available, this time Everard’s Sunchaser, but I’ve always been very impressed with the quality. It’s far better to stock fewer beers and serve them in tip-top condition than to have a wide range and struggle to keep the quality. Sometimes CAMRA members can be blinded by the number of beers on offer and overlook places that serve one or two in consistently excellent condition and for which there is demand amongst the regulars but may be viewed as “boring” within certain CAMRA circles.
A couple of minutes further and with perfect timing, as it started spitting, The Owl greeted us. This had been a very successful premises for a number of years under the stewardship of Gina and the team but following a substantial rent increase they relocated to The Fleece at Farsley, which has subsequently won Pub of the Season. After a period of closure and changes to landlords, The Owl seems to be heading back in the right direction with its convivial atmosphere re-establishing. And as a sweetener, just show your CAMRA card for a 10% discount on pints. We dodged a heavy shower while inside and right-on-cue when emerging the sun came out again – as the expression goes, the sun shines on the righteous!
We visited The Railway next, located 100 metres off the canal and less than 5 minutes beyond Rodley. A traditional and cosy pub this would an ideal location to escape the weather on a cold winter’s day. We bumped into some friends of one of the people on the Social who class the pub as their local despite living in Horsforth and are more than willing to make the journey to it. After an enjoyable Theakston’s Old Peculiar from the choice of 4 ales, and again dodging another heavy shower, we headed back to the centre of Rodley for our final venue, The Barge.
Here they have benches right on the side of the canal if you fancy a final fix of being close to the water while enjoying one of their 5 ales. It’s also a perfect place for the final drink being on a crossroads with a bus stop on two of the opposite corners – just make sure you’re at the correct one though if you do happen to miss your bus it wouldn’t be a hardship to stay for another in any of the nearby pubs!
I plan to organise Regional YMs Socials roughly every 3 to 4 months so keep your eyes open for future events such as a brewery tour, rail ale trail and ‘volunteering social’ at a beer festival. In the meantime, do check out what your local branch is up to. Demographics might mean they don’t have any specific YMs socials coming up but their normal events might also be worth a look.
Questions, suggestions or information? I’m always happy to hear from you, just drop me an email: YoungMembers@leeds-camra.com. I look forward to hearing from you soon!
Leeds Branch and Regional (Yorkshire) Young Members Contact