The snow fell heavy last night as I, wrapped up exceedingly warm, and walked towards the Adelphi, Hunslet Road. I set out at 7pm to meet up with a walking group who were meant to be at The Palace, next to Leeds parish church, between 8pm and 8:30pm, and decided to delve in there before arriving for another MeetUp event (my second this week).

Passing ASDA house on my left, crossing over towards Leeds Bridge House – Leeds’ nod to Broadway, NYC – the calm of the journey and the welcome from the instantly likeable Scottich barman: genuine conversations about trivial things as I explained I had a bad neck from a terrible night and he’d slept on the floor in his daughter’s room because she’d had a bad night. He served me an ice cold pint of Czech Kozel Pivo – a malty creamy Světlý from Velké Popovice just east of Prague. Once the bar emptied a little of post-work clients, and before Leeds Friday evening ‘townie’ crowd descended, I sat in a corner and looked around the bar. The Adelphi is a memorial pub for its artisan flavour and the modern, lime like, twist of modernity. Captured is the Victorian splender and a designers paradise. The 4% Světlý gave me a refreshing and welcoming hand into my first Friday night out in Leeds since moving back. I’d decided to have a clean alcohol free month, but I confess the boredom got to me after the second weekend when I drank ‘far far’ too much Friday, Saturday and Sunday!

Leaving The Adelphi to find another welcome pub on route I walked along Dock Street passed the bar on the right Glenn, Martin and I used quite often – Nick’s Brasserie (now replaced by Ciao Bella Bar & Restaurant) – during that summer when they had a happy hour and the sun shone most of the time. Next to that is the Pin (not bothered) and Dock Street Market with its excellent artisan bakery on site. I crossed the river Aire at the Oracle ( the Oracle and the Adelphi on the same road!) and ended on Kirkgate at the door of The Duck and Drake. The streets were silent and I felt relaxed as I crossed the threshold. Another helpful barman and maid and a well-informed client: a brewer who knew most micro breweries in the north and was a fan of Theakston’s XB too. I tucked in to a pint of Vienna, a Vienna Malt inspired cask lager produced Revolution’s Brewing Co of Whitworth, West Yorkshire. A rouge coloured pint with a intense malty headiness and a mild hop influence that developed on my palate as a grower. The Brewers have melded their love of music and beer into a symbiosis that is quasi train-spotter reverential and perfectly charming – if Andy Votel had a brewer he’d probably… All good stuff in the D&D.

I crossed back over the road, passing a few people waiting for the Mega Bus huddled under the eves of the buildings freezing into the night; one was holding a leopard spotted hot water bottle close, the grandeur of Leeds Parish Church and onto the nights meeting at The Palace – a Nicholson’s Pub. From the first minute I disliked the clients within, a heavy-set of swearing middle-aged working collective all along the bar, which was possibly 4 deep at points. The bar staff looked under a disagreeable amount of pressure and, although they had some interesting products on sale, I couldn’t get served. Finally, once I had been alighted upon, the barmaid poured me a Harviestoun Old Engine Oil Porter – blowing my expectations! There was no caress from the effort quickly done with an inch of head, beer pump without a sparkler so I assumed it was very fobby. I returned the product to have it topped up – I don’t think any patron should ever be expected to have to return the product to get it topped up! It feels like a cunning plan to increase the quantity of product squeezed out of every cask barrel? The product had a treacle oily thickness and was lush. Malty and honeyed. Deeply filled with a generous, sweet and memorable mouth feel. Top one Harviestoun… even if the pub it was delivered from was utter crap! I waited until 8:45pm for the people from the walking group to arrive getting more anxious with the number of male testosterone filled, alcohol fuelled. angry glowering red-eyed thugs. I’d been warned by the brewer in the D&D that The Palace wasn’t a great locale and I realised he was quite correct. I could wait no longer for the people so set off for beery solace elsewhere; leaving the ghosts of the Leeds Walking Meetup Group to ponder this crappy soulless pub all to themselves.

In 2 hours high hopes were brought crashing to the ground; the reality of Leeds ‘townies’ who take over a pub for an hour with their colossal banter and insidious starring eyes led me back to the only safe haven I could think of, as the Duck and Drake now had live rock music playing loudly across Kirkgate, North Bar and its excellent, if expensive, beers. Cheers for the last beer of that evening. Sanctuary  salvaging the savaging I’d had in The Palace: Magic Rock Dark Arts: Surreal Stout(6%).

I had travelled from a Czech Pivo via a ‘Vienna malt‘ styled cask lager and a quality Scottich porter to a climax of roasted malt and hop hopping happiness produced in Huddersfield.

Night done. Not for the first time I am not feeling The Palace and I will not bother with that establishment again soon.


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