I was interested to read in The Pubbing Advertlican that Osset Brewery are to open a Hop in Sheffield, after the first two music-meets-real-ale bars in Wakefield and Leeds. I think the Hop on Granary Wharf in Leeds is a good bar, with a selection of Ossett beers on cask as well as a number of pretty good guest ales. As can be seen from the purloined images in this post, the railway arches in which it is based are decorated with a selection of exposed brickwork and images of the great and good of Yorkshire indie (one of whom, the drummer from Embrace, is a part-owner).
Importantly for me, The Hop is a cask ale pub that looks a bit modern and trendy, so I can drag my work colleagues to it without most of them pissing and moaning about it being an “old man pub”, as if I think cask ale is best enjoyed in the presence of a farting, half-dead pub dog and a deeply worn, formerly-red patterned carpet covered in discarded betting slips.
When I was at Sheffield University I lived very near where the new Hop is opening on Devonshire Green. In fact I did most of my (hardly nutritionally balanced) grocery shopping in the Budgens that formerly used to be on the site, although I confess to having resorted to the excellent noodle bar next door on a more-than-weekly basis.
Sheffield is a fantastic place to go out for a drink, especially nowadays, but as I recall, the only really decent pub in that part of town at the time was The Devonshire Cat, which was very good but surrounded for about half a mile in each direction by the likes of Vodka Revolution, Varsity, Yates’ Wine Lodge, Flares, Walkabout, Wetherspoons and All Bar One, as well as a few definite “old man pubs”. Certainly when I was there, a pub like The Hop would have been a very welcome addition.
Calls Landing is a pub with one great strength: it’s one of probably only two bars in Leeds City Centre with a South-facing beer garden on the river (along with Aire Bar next door, which has a smaller one).
It’s a very nice, if sometimes slightly crowded, beer garden and it certainly beats sitting outside Restaurant Bar & Grill on City Square in summer, surrounded by roaring traffic as the long shadows fall in mid-afternoon whilst you drink a very expensive pint of Tetley’s Smoothflow.
But a riverside pub like this is going to struggle for 9 months of the year in West Yorkshire when the beer garden lies wet and empty, as seagulls pick away at soggy discarded Greggs wrappers. So it needs to have something else going for it.
Fortunately, one of Calls Landing’s strengths is a small but decent range of beers. Whilst it’s not going to compete for variety with The Palace around the corner for selection on cask, there are three handpumps, one of which is always Theakstons (which is a good enough default option and one I haven’t seen much of in Leeds).
The guest beers have included some unusual and interesting options, including Golden Angel from Doncaster’s Toad Brewery – a solid beer with a terrible pumpclip – and this week, Ossett Brewery’s Treacle Stout. It’s probably pipped at the post by Summer Wine’s Treason Treacle Stout for me; but it’s a SIBA award-winner and deservedly so. There’s also a pretty good fridge selection, with a few dumpy Belgian bottles as well as Brooklyn Lager and the like.
It’s one of those bars that, instead of having a busy kitchen and a large menu, has chosen to have a small, low-maintenance selection of food that it does well. Whereas North Bar has pie & peas or cheese & bread, Calls Landing has recently rebranded itself as a “stew & oyster bar”.
There’s a selection of three changing stews with an emphasis on beans, chorizo, chilli, prawns etc, which come in big bowls with nice bread, and I’ve always enjoyed. It’s also served quickly, which doesn’t hurt.
I’m a bit wary about oysters generally, so I’ve always shied away from that option. They also have good olives and a selection of nuts. They could do with giving you a spare glass to put your pistachio shells in, though.
The bar itself is pleasantly decked out with a modern cafe feel, with light wood, exposed bricks, a rack of newspapers and fairly interesting modern art posters. The piped music tends towards the safe and middle-aged, with a lot of Cream, Fleetwood Mac, T-Rex and the like. The windows look out on the river and the floorspace has expanded considerably into a further room in the last year or so.
Calls Landing has always been a great place to be on a summer afternoon. However it’s also a very pleasant place for a simple, warming meal and a decent pint on a dark, rainy winter evening.
Calls Landing, 36-38 The Calls, LS2 7EW; http://www.callslanding.com/
Kate’s parents live in Kendal, so quite often we end up spending the weekend in the Lakes, enjoying a walk during the day then going out for a drink in the evening. The two places that we end up in most often are The Brewery Arts Centre (disappointingly no longer a brewery; just a very good arts centre) and Burgundy’s.
The Vats Bar at The Brewery Arts Centre is relatively expensive, but does usually have a few ales from around the Lakes on, notably their excellent house beer Ale N Arty from Hawkshead. Burgundy’s similarly has a range of around four local cask ales at a time, often including Coniston beers, as well as a good bottle fridge with Orval, Trappistes Rochefort and even the odd bottle of Goose Island IPA.
The Rifleman’s Arms is a less obvious choice. It’s on a nice green, after what on the first climb appears to be a horrendously steep walk up the hill from the main street, appropriately called Beast Banks. Postman Pat was conceived in the imagination of children’s author John Cunliffe when he was living on Greenside, a few houses up from The Rifleman’s Arms and the former Beast Banks sub-post office.
The Rifleman’s is a pub which has reportedly gone through a few shakey moments in recent years but now seems to be on the path back to good health. On a Friday night it seems busy with locals playing dominoes, darts and also in the side room, pool. Posters advertise a weekly knitting circle and the new landlady/manageress seems to be involved in a number of events on the green and keeping the pub involved in the local community.
They have beer from the SIBA list and when we were in two weeks ago that included Ossett Spellbound and Moorhouses Pendle Witches Brew, alongside the Tetleys and Abbot Ale which seem to be the standards. Spellbound in particular was a nice pale ale to enjoy by the gas fire on a wet windy night, whilst the dominoes clattered in the background. However it was served in incorrectly branded glasses. Hardknott Dave would not approve.
Perhaps symbolic of the decline and resurgence of The Rifleman’s is the literature on offer. On a sideboard by the toilets (pictured) is a complete collection of Good Beer Guides for the years 1995-2003. This might be indicative of when the management lost interest. But now they have up-to-date copies of CAMRA’s “Beer” magazine and the local CAMRA newsletter, “Lakes & Ale”.
There’s just one thing though, which is a bit jarring when you go to relieve yourself in the (clean but typically freezing) toilets after a few: the urinal has lumps of coal in it. Coal. Moreover, I am informed that exactly the same lumps have been there for years. Coal apparently gets rid of odours and I assume that’s what they’re for. But I’ve never seen this anywhere else. Have you?
The Rifleman’s Arms, 4-6 Greenside, Kendal, Cumbria LA9 4LD