Beer For Birds: The Sparrow Bier Cafe, North Parade, Bradford
Bradford, for me, is an unknown quantity, an undiscovered country. Despite living in Leeds for 7 years I’ve only been to the centre of Bradford a handful of times. I know it has some good curry houses, a Media Museum and an IMAX cinema, however I’ve never felt the need to go to Bradford for a drink, in the way that I might get the train to Huddersfield specifically to visit the Grove.
However there’s now a very good reason to visit Bradford: The Sparrow Bier Cafe. Started by Les Hall and Mark Husak, it officially opens tomorrow, but a little bird invited a few of us for a preview last night.
The bar is on North Parade, close to Forster Square station but also walkable from Bradford Interchange (map). From the outside it looks minimal and sophisticated, with an elegant dark green frontage and a dapper little sparrow logo (called “Hercule”). It’s actually a bit bigger inside than it looks, with a second seating area in the basement.
The ground floor was yet to be completely finished, with the floors still needing to be laid. However you can see that it’s a classy looking place, with the kind of calm colour scheme and unifying design that the Port Street Beer House in Manchester has, and promising a selection of art similar to North Bar in Leeds. There’s a good selection of music (I remember Love and Nick Drake) which adds to the atmosphere but doesn’t impede conversation.
The selection of beer is very good, including a wide range of American, Belgian, German and other bottles, some of which are regulars and others guests. It’s also very cheap for what you get. For example, a bottle of Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout is £4.15 and Silly Saison is £2.20. By way of comparison, they would cost at least £3.50 and £5.85 in equivalent cafe bars in Leeds. The train fare was starting to look like an investment.
There are six keg lines and four handpulls. The kegs included two Meantime beers and three Bernard beers, including the really nice, bitterly noble hoppy Unfiltered. The cask on this occasion included Thornbridge Jaipur, Ikley Stout Mary, Dark Star Original and Saltaire South Island Pale. Again these were all very reasonably priced and you can look forward to seeing some exciting new UK craft beers on keg and cask in the future.
Beyond the excellent and reasonable beer menu there’s also a good selection of food: sandwiches, pork pies and olives amongst others. It’s probably sensible to have something to eat because you’ll find yourself not wanting to leave until you’ve tried quite a lot of beers, some of which will probably be of considerable strength.
It was good to spend a few hours drinking and chatting with Rob from Hopzine, Fletch from RealAleReviews, Neil from Eating Isn’t Cheating, Keith Wildman from Sabotage Times, Martin Bell and Ian Garrett. As is evident from Rob and Neil’s posts, we were all pretty taken with the place and didn’t have a bad word to say about it.
I wish Mark and Les all the best with The Sparrow. You can see that they’ve put a lot of effort, thought and love into the place and it deserves to succeed. You owe yourself a visit.