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Temperance & Temptation

Leeds, as well as having a significant brewing history, also has a close connection to the Temperance movement. The Band of Hope, a Christian charity to promote temperance amongst working class children, was formed in a building close to the Tetley’s Brewery in 1847.

As for myself, I wasn’t supposed to drink at all last week, less on moral grounds and more as part of an attempt to look as stunning from behind as Pippa Middleton by my wedding day. You won’t be surprised to hear that this didn’t really work out: I did have a few drinks and the gossip mags have yet to latch onto me as the next big thing and give me a hilarious abbreviated name (N Middy?).

On Tuesday, Matt from North Bar contacted me over Twitter and asked if I wanted to come to a Nøgne Ø focus group that evening. Nøgne Ø is a Norwegian brewery whose beers, in my experience, are rarely seen in the North. In the words of Jarvis, “So what else could I do”? Other members of the group included Dean from Mr Foleys, Rob from Hopzine, Alice “Alice Porter” Porter and Neil from Eating Isn’t Cheating.

I won’t waste your time expanding on Neil’s account, but suffice to say it was good fun, we chatted about beer and drank some really good ones. I enjoyed all the ones I tried (Pale Ale, Saison, India Pale Ale and Porter) , but special mention should go to the IPA which was a stunning rich, hoppy and malty US-style IPA.

Unfortunately I had to make an early exit before the Imperial Stout, but I’m told it was the best beer of the evening. Hopefully I should have a chance to have it again, as Matt says that he has some of the higher ABV Nøgne Ø beers coming in for North Bar, which should be lovely based on this selection.

North Bar was my downfall again later in the week, as they had Kirkstall Brewery’s first beers: Pale Ale and Black Band Porter. Kirkstall Brewery, started by Dave Sanders (formerly of Elland) is the newest brewery in Leeds, and shouldn’t be confused with the historic Kirkstall Brewery that closed in 1983.

Both beers were very good: the Pale Ale a light refreshing beer, but with satisfyingly robust and lasting bitterness for its strength; the Porter even better, with exactly the complexity you’d want from the style. Mr Foleys had both in this week too which sold out very quickly, and on the basis of these first two beers I’m looking forward to seeing more from Kirkstall. A very promising addition to Leeds’ beer scene.

Mr Foley’s caught me out on Friday with a Hardknott Infra Red (first time I’ve had it on cask – a great hoppy beer with rich forest fruit maltiness, but I think it might be even better suited to bottle or maybe keg?) and a RedWillow Smokeless, a great smoked porter.

So basically my attempt to avoid the beer failed, although I did have less than half my recommended weekly units (and if you ask me, got pretty good value for it). This week’s lesson: If you want to lay off the beer, don’t live in Leeds. It’s a great place to fall off the wagon, though.

This week doesn’t bode much better though, as the exciting Sparrow Bier Cafe opens in Bradford City Centre! I think West Yorkshire is ganging up on me.

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