Pub of the Year Award 2018

My third annual beer ticking pub awards.

As I’ve said in the past,  I’m a beer ticker – I like to try as many different beers as possible and as such I’ve ranked my top ten pubs in order of the number of ticks that I’ve had there.  I’ve not included beer festivals.  Ticking isn’t the be all and end all of pub life, but it just so happens that I rather do like most of the pubs I’ve visited.

1.  The Queen Crafthouse & Kitchen, Doncaster  (3rd in 2017; opened during 2016)
Not the biggest selection of beers in my favourite ticking pubs, but a combination of great beers and absolutely brilliant staff.  I want to write more, but there’s not much else to say – fantastic beer, even more fantastic staff and…

2.  Friends of Ham, Leeds  (1st in 2017, 2nd in 2016)
Bit of a turbulent year for FoH – after a few business troubles earlier in the year, they’re now owned by someone else and sadly, the beer list isn’t quite what it was, although it’s still great.  I understand that the current owner is looking at selling it on, so let’s see what next year has in store.

3. The Corner, Huddersfield  (9th in 2017)
Climbing up from 9th last year, they’re still their with great beer and staff.  Huddersfield’s a strange place for beer – pop along for a beer in any of the decent beer bars on a weekday afternoon and there’s always folk just there enjoying beer in a chilled atmosphere.  The Corner is certainly one of these bars.

5= Doncaster Brewery Tap, Doncaster  (6th in 2017, 11th in 2016)
Climbing slightly from last year, Doncaster Brewery Tap don’t really focus that much on guest beers, but more on being a tap for their own brews.  However, with a regular guest, some amazing keg guests and beer festivals throughout the year, they’re still in my top ten.  If I could work out a way of factoring in a way of staff personalities instead of number of ticks per pub then they’re be way up the list.  Incidentally, if I’d had just one more tick here, they’d be in joint 3rd , and another 4 then in second.

5= Mr Foley’s Cask Ale House, Leeds  (new entry)
I’m not really sure why this is Foley’s first time in my top 10, but again, the combination of great staff and a good range of keg and cask beer prevails – there’s often up to 30 boxes of battery acid (sorry, cider) for those who like to indulge in such beverages.  Outside of peak hours, they have a really chilled vibe – even in the week leading up to Christmas, I popped in one afternoon and there was a real cool vibe with just some really chilled out music instead of Jingle Bell Rock being played in a loop.
Sadly, they went into administration late in 2018 but have since been bought by Black Sheep Brewery.  The bar has a brilliant location and the ‘concept’ is fantastic – I just hope they don’t start messing around too much.

6. Arcade, Huddersfield  (7th in 2017)
Climbing slightly from last year, this non-cask ale pub still never fails to impress.

7.  The Draughtsman, Doncaster  (opened during 2017)
Now they’ve been open a year, they’ve climbed up to 7th place.  Always a good stop off to sup beer elsewhere!

8.  The Sportsman, Huddersfield  (8th in 2017; 6th in 2016)
Still in 8th place with good beer and the pies.  Oh my, you must try the pies!

9. Turks Head, Leeds  (new entry)
It’s only recently that I’ve started frequenting the Turks Head, but once again, good beer and knowledgeable staff seem to be the key.  Oh – and brilliant food with just that bit of a classy feel.

10.  Tapped, Leeds  (2nd in 2017; 1st in 2016)
Well – they’ve fallen from from being in the top one or two down to 10th.  Why?  For me, the biggest problem is that they don’t serve thirds (unless the beer is quite pricey).  There’s only so much beer you can consume in one day, so I’ll generally go to places that serve thirds, and once I’ve ‘cleared up’, then might go to Tapped before the train home.

11.  Head of Steam, Leeds; Bundobust, Leeds; Box Social, Newcastle, Crown & Kettle, Manchester; Maison du Biere, Elsecar
Well, I’ve always included an 11th place, but give or take a beer or two, these are all on a similar tick rating so I’ll say a few words about them all
Head of Steam Leeds – great beer.  Nuff said
Box Social, Newcastle – too many great beers!
Crown & Kettle, Manchester – an amazing pub.  It’s not chrome and trendy but has fantastic staff and beer and some of the best prices in Manchester
Maison du Biere, Elsecar – another of those places I ‘just like’ but included especially as they won a Barnsley CAMRA Pub of the Season even though they don’t serve cask ale.  Well done!

Once again, only three pubs are in my home town of Doncaster – it’s a bit sad really that I have to travel so far from my home town.  Well done to the Doncaster guys – you’re passionate about what you do, but can’t you work miracles and do something about the dire state of beer in the town?

Oh – and if any of the winners would like to buy me beer, I wouldn’t say no!

Everyday’s a festival in Leeds

I like Leeds.  There’s an amazing selection of pubs within minutes of the station.  In fact, out of these 7, the furthest one is no more than 3 minutes walk away!  Yes, there are other great pubs but when I do my Leeds mini-crawl, these are the ones that feature.  Why bother trekking further afield or visit a festival – there’s nearly 100 beers available!

Brewery Tap

18-24 New Station Street, Leeds LS1 5DL
Mon – Thu 12-23; Fri-Sat 11-00; Sun 12-22:30
Beers: 6 cask, 7 keg, bottles

One of the Leeds city centre outlets for Leeds Brewery beers and also brews their own lager on site.  A reasonable selection of beers but can get very busy.

Friends of Ham

4-8 New Station Street, Leeds LS1 5DL
Mon-Wed 11-11; Thu-Sat 11-00; Sun 11-22
Beers: 4 cask, 10 keg, bottles

For the last two years, Friends of Ham have been my top UK beer ticking pub!  No mean feat when you consider it’s a half hour train ride away.  A great choice of beers and knowledgeable staff.  Prices aren’t the world’s best, but not really much different to others in the area – you might pay more than you would normally, but then you wouldn’t neck a something like an 11% stout!  The tasting trays can work out to be excellent value, especially for the stronger beers.  On the other hand, you pay for what you get- usually great beer served by people who know what they’re on about (gormless staff is one of my gripes – see this post).

Tapped Leeds

51 Boar Lane, Leeds LS1 5EL
Mon-Wed 11-23; Thu 11-00; Fri-Sat 11-01; Sun 11-23
Beers: 13 cask, 14 keg, bottles

Certainly the biggest venue in my mini crawl of Leeds, this place doesn’t do things by halves.  27 draught beers, 100+ bottles, pizzas freshly cooked in a proper pizza shiny pizza oven, oh – and they brew their own beer on site.

Again, an excellent range of beers – sometimes too good and they sadly don’t sell third pints, except for the strongest beers.  Once again, great staff who know what they’re on about.

The Griffin

31 Boar Lane, Leeds LS1 5DF
Mon-Fri 11-00; Sat-Sun 09-00
Beers: 4 cask

Bit of a change here at The Griffin.  All the other pubs so far have been part of the ‘new wave’ beer movement.  This place is definitely more old school.  It’s owned by the Taylor Walker group.  Quite often, the beers aren’t uncommon but it still has great 1870s architecture.

Bundobust

6 Mill Hill, Leeds LS1 5DQ
Mon-Thu 12-23; Fri-Sat 12-00; Sun 12-22
Beers: 1 cask, 12 keg, bottles

Wowee – what do you get if you mix beer (mainly keg) and Indian street food?  Bundobust!  Now, I’m still not entirely convinced about mixing spicy food and beer, but these guys at Bundobust do it remarkably well.  The food isn’t your standard run of of mill ‘Indian’ but more authentic South Indian vegetarian food.  Back to the old ‘great beer and great staff that know what they’re on about’ again.  Just watch out for the beer on the permanent Mikkeller tap – it can be pricey!

Head of Steam

12 Mill Hill, Leeds LS1 5DQ
Mon-Thu 11-00; Fri-Sat 11-01; Sunday 12-23
Beers: 7 cask, 11 keg, bottles

Bit of a strange mix this one – it’s more of a traditional boozer that has a number of keg taps, but tend not to be new era British keg beers but rather more run of the mill Belgian, German and American ones – not that there’s anything wrong with these.  Yes – knowledgeable staff.

Scarbrough Hotel

Bishopsgate Street, Leeds LS1 5DY
Mon-Thu 10-00; Fri-Sat 10-01; Sun 08-22
Beers: 8 cask

And – the final pub on the route (or the first if you go the other way round) is the Scarbrough Arms.  Definitely one of the old breed of boozers but as can be expected in a Nicholson’s pub, not a bad beer choice at all.  Sadly, not in keeping with the knowledgeable staff though- with some of them it’s quite difficult to get them to understand your order.  One plus point is the Nicholson’s mobile app that gives cut price beer!

 

Beer count: 43 cask, 54 keg.  Grand total – 97!