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Leeds/York, England

May 6, 2018

 

I'm going to start out by saying that this will be my third to last beer blog on my Europe beerscapade. Just because this trip is coming to an end doesn't mean that I will be shutting down my blog because I do plan to travel more as the years go on, always trying to brew beer with others and drink the best craft beers around the world all while being a wanderer.

 

I left Edinburgh last Sunday morning and took a 5.5 hour bus ride to Leeds where I got dropped off at the bus station after making 3 small stops along the way. This was roughly my 20th bus trip since starting my trip so it's nothing crazy for me anymore. It, just like everything else if you do it enough, becomes comfortable the more you do it.

To my amazement, the hostel I booked for four nights in Leeds, called Art Hostel, was a five minute (if that) walk from the bus station. I arrive at the hostel around 3pm, perfect time for checking in. 

 

Everyone was super friendly at the hostel when I entered and I felt welcomed. The staff showed me up to my room which I would be sharing with up to 9 other people for the next for nights. I was on the top of a three bunk bed bed, oh well. 

 

After hopping in the shower I head downstairs and bust out my laptop to write about my experiences in Edinburgh and Glasgow. I wrote for about 3 hours while getting to know a couple of the staff there. It seemed as though the staff made up roughly half of the population of the small hostel! 

 

After doing my share of writing, I take a stroll along the town to familiarize myself with the area.

I stopped at a brewery/taproom called "Tapped" where I met some good people behind the bar who were easy to talk to. I get a pint of one of the guest taps they had which was a NEIPA. It wasn't the best NEIPA I've ever had but it was drinkable. It did however cost me an arm and a leg... 9 pounds... which comes out to almost 15 dollars... Never again. I also ordered a 7 pound pizza which was good but not the best. 

 

I left that place to go to one more spot I had researched for craft beer prior to going out.

On the walk to the other craft beer bar I stumbled across a place that was playing live music and had craft beer on tap so I walked in. I ordered a pint of a good cask ale'd juicy IPA that was actually super bomb for a warmish beer! The live music was more jazz based and an older crowd and I wasn't feeling it too much so I pounded my 6 pound beer and headed up to the craft beer bar called "Friends of Ham"which was closing within the next 30 minutes I came to realize. I became friends with the 3 staff members who were all 21-23 years old and they let me try basically all of their beers.

I ended up ordering a 6% chocolate banana porter that was fire! I could have had 3 more beers there but sadly they were closing. I just walked back to my hostel after that to call it a day. 

 

The next morning I had to finish my blog post so I woke up early, and over the next three hours and three cups of coffee later, I finish my two posts. I wanted to go out and explore the city now as I have yet to really do that.

There were some old ruins about 3.5 miles outside of the city center I was planning to go to. I started walking and was instantly taken back by how cold it was with the wind blowing like 100mph. I went down to the art gallery that was free to enter and of course it was closed... I wasn't in the best of moods so I walked around a little bit more, stopped at a "Australian" restaurant, and got a terrible chicken sandwich but finally had something in my stomach. 

 

I go back to the hostel not knowing what to do next so I go up to my room to charge my phone. I ended up meeting the 40 year old cleaning lady named Maria who was from Argentina. We talked for a little while and decided to go out to grab some beers because we both had nothing better to do after she got off, in an hour. 

 

She brings me to her and her boyfriends apartment complex for a hot second to grab some money.

We then go downstairs and across the little canal to a bar where I met the coolest British chick bartender who doesn't drink. We stay there for 3 beers because we were all having a good time talking and drinking. Her boyfriend comes to meet us there at 6:30pm and we have one more beer with him before deciding to head to a different bar. As we were leaving, his guy friend meets up with us and we all walk to basic cocktail bar. I order one Lagunitas IPA and we were all going to go to another bar but I felt awkward hanging out with them all so I decided to go back to the hostel and call it another early night. 

 

The next day I knew was going to be a great day weather wise so I walked around Leeds a little bit more, making the solo executive decision to walk to the Royal Armory that was free museum of the nations armor and weapons. I was SO glad that I went there.

I spend a good 2.5 hours in that museum, going over 5 stories with many different weapons ranging from Japanese Katanas, swords from the Lord of the Rings movies, the gun from Aliens, to the armor that King George the 8th wore. It was quite the place to be! That area, the Leeds Docks, was my favorite area in Leeds. 

 

There was a free water taxi that ran right next to the armory that I took and got to take a nice 15 minute boat ride to the more western side of the town.

This was where "Leeds Brewery" and "Northern Monk" brewery were located, which was next on my list of things to do this day. 

 

I make my way to Leeds Brewery, walking through the hood it seemed like, and quickly discovered that they didn't have a taproom... I tried to enter but felt weird being intrusive so I said fuck it and just headed to the Northern Monk taproom.

After then making the 15 minute walk from Leeds Brewery to the Northern Monk taproom and brewery, I enter and walk up the first set of stairs to the taproom where I was greeted with a warm hello from what turned out to be one of the owners wife, who also worked at the brewery, named Tara. We quickly get to talking as it was only roughly 4pm and there wasn't many people in their yet. 

 

They don't offer flights of beer but she went ahead and gave me a flight of (4) 1/3pints and a sample of their saison as well.

We got to talking and it turns out she was from San Francisco, the Sunshine district. She lived half her life in Leeds as well where she met her husband, an avid homebrewer/marketer. I told her about my brewing career and what I'm up to and we became quick close friends if I do say so myself. She goes downstairs and introduces me to two of the brewers in the production area and we end up talking for about a half hour. They crack open two new cans of two different Hazy IPA's they just bottled for me and we share them.

Super awesome guys! One of them even worked at Fieldworks in Berkeley (One of my favorite breweries) for a couple weeks! I head back upstairs to order one more pint as I enjoyed their company and the great beers. I order a pint of one of their great Hazy IPA and I asked for the bill as I had to continue to my next stop... The bartender working then said it was on the house and I didn't have to pay for anything! It puts a big smile on my face to see that. Supper appreciative for breweries like this as they are also the best ones!

 

After catching a good buzz from Northern Monk Brewery I went back to the hostel to shower. I then met up with Maria again at the hostel to go to a small taproom I was told to go to called North Bar where they had a great selection of craft beers but they were all SOOOO expensive.

I only ordered one pint here. They were very unfriendly and didn't seem to care about their jobs. I asked how much they charged for one can of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and they guy said a little over 5 pounds which in USD would be roughly 8 dollars... Back in California, one can of the same beer would cost less than one dollar.... That upset me, so after we finished our beer we left.

 

There was one more bar I wanted to try out called Whitelocks. We go there and It was in a cool little alley way. It was a more romantic-esq bar that didn't have that much craft beer.

I ordered a Heineken and she orders something else. After we finish those beers I was pretty tipsy and didn't want to spend anymore money so I ask her if she want's any McDonald's and she says no, so she goes home and I order a double cheeseburger. I eat it on the way home and then pass out for the next day we were going to be going to York for the day.

 

We were supposed to leave for York at 9:15am and she doesn't get there until 9:00am so we had to wait to catch the next train at 9:45am to York. 

 

It was super easy to figure out the train system here. We hop on the train and within 30 minutes we were in York.

I was recommended 3 craft beer places in York that I wanted to hit up but had to wait as it was barely 10:30am. We were both starving so we sat down to get a big breakfast and big coffee for seven pounds. After the breakfast we make our way to the big cathedral we could see from the train station. It was gorgeous inside but they charged to see the whole inside and I didn't want to pay so I only got to see the main entrance.

We then start walking where the wind takes us and it took us to a cool small, Harry Potter style, alley with lots of shops. We then walk to a very small castle that also charged to go inside and wasn't worth it. 

 

I was getting ancy so we made our way to this brewery called Brew York but was sadly closed.

Their garage door was open so I peaked my head in to see if anyone was around but didn't see anyone. I did however see the big 30bbl fermenter's they were working with. Bigger production facility than what I'm used to seeing in Europe. We made our way to a little pub for whatever beer they had on tap. I just ordered a local IPA based off the Monty Python movies that was only 4.3%, mediocre, and warmish.

 

After that we passed a little open market before making our way to the second recommendation. They were also very expensive but I enjoyed the company of their workers so I order 1.5 beers from here. After we had to go to this place called "House of Trembling Madness"which was the SECOND best bottle shop I have seen in all of Europe, first being from Amsterdam. 

 

I was like a kid in a candy shop with their huge selection of beers! They also had a taproom upstairs that Maria and I went up to.

The waiter there was also super badass and friendly! She let me try all their roughly 8 beers on tap too and ended up getting a smooth chocolate porter from cask. Maria got a nice kegged double IPA. After I had my two pints and she had her one, we go downstairs to the bottle shop where I pick up 3 cans of juicy IPA's. I crack one after we walked on top of a really old stone wall to the railway station to go back to the hostel. I finish the smallest of the cans before the train even arrives and I crack another one as we're on the train ride back to Leeds. Maria has a few sips of them...

 

She lives close to the train station and her favorite bar is under her apartment complex so we stop at that bar.

She orders two beers for us and then her boyfriend shows up as we get our first beers. I wasn't really feeling the Bud Light-esq beer she got me so I just tried to stomach it and pound it. I am pretty drunk at this point and we were super hungry so we all go to the mall to get food. They left together to grab food but I wasn't having it anymore so I left to go to Subway to pound a footlong before going back to my hostel. I drank my last craft beer can when I get there while talking to some of the people in the hostel. 

 

I didn't get very good sleep that night but had to wake up as I had a train ride to Cambridge at noon the next day.

I play on my phone for a couple hours in the hostel while waiting for the train. I say goodbye to my hostel friends and make my way to the next city, Cambridge!

 

Thanks for reading everyone! Only a couple more blog posts left until I'm back in the US to start building my business plan for my brewery!

 

 

 

Cheers,

Ty Stevenson

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