Beers in Bradford – A Review

I’m writing this article up, with a headache from the night before, whilst my three young children are happy watching Paw Patrol!  Seems no better time to tell you about last night, and a night out round Bradford, West Yorkshire (Sat Sept 24th).  Well worth a look – the idea to write about it came about as so many people through work, etc constantly expressing their desire for nights out in Leeds or Manchester, and proclaiming their bars – but I’ve lived in Bradford for nine years now… and I genuinely think it’s a really good place to live.  And the night life is worth a mention – read on…

6:30pm

Time for a Dad’s night out!  A rare occasion – and often takes weeks, sometimes even months of planning to get us all together on the same night!  But, kids in bed… a quick Co-op reduced pizza for my tea, and time to catch the 607 from Holme Wood to Bradford with my friend Chris.  First Bus have a great weekend offer on… where five people can travel together for £5!

6:50pm

Time for the first pub of the evening whilst we wait for my friend Craig to arrive – and we pick the Lloyds Bar in Centenary Square.  I get the drinks in…  I order a half pint of Woods’ Wonderful, a Shropshire beer (4.8% ABV), a dark beer and really warming.  Chris picked the Shipyard American Pale Ale and wasn’t keen on it, I also get Craig one of these and he happened to like it.  Interesting to see that ‘Craft Beer Take Away’ is now available at Wetherspoons now – I was informed by a member of staff tonight that these start from £1.99… there was also a selection of hampers on display ready to purchase for Christmas I dare say.  As for Lloyds Bar itself, it’s a while since I’ve been in there – whenever we’ve been in there with the family you have to sit on the top floor.  The ground floor doesn’t really have any atmosphere – but the drinks are cheap, and that’s why people keep coming back.  People tend to be in two camps over Wetherspoons – it won’t please everyone, but the Real Ale and Cider Festivals that they offer during the year always offer a good selection.

7:15pm

Time for the second drink of the evening – I decide to show Chris and Craig the ‘Made of Bradford’ ‘Pop Up’ bar on Ivegate, which was previously a charity shop and is now a Bradford Brewery bar.  The Pop Up bar used to be in the new Broadway shopping centre, but has now relocated and there are plans to extend the building to include the premises next door (which was Raffles Casino).  Craig gets the drinks in – and I pick Bradford Brewery ale ‘Northern Soul’ (3.8% ABV).  Lovely beer – a golden beer, which is very easy to drink and really refreshing.  Ulya was the hostess at the ‘Pop Up’ bar and really made us all feel very welcome – it just proves that friendly and excellent customer service (and bloody good beer) goes a long way to making you feel comfortable in somewhere.

I can recall the first Bradford Brewery beer I tried – it was ‘Lord of Misrule’; almost a couple of months ago.  My wife won a bottle of it on a tombola and brought it home for me!  It’s a lovely beer, very strong, a lovely one to just slowly sip at.    Ulya advised tonight it’s perhaps a beer to share, but I wouldn’t have done that!  It’s 7.4% ABV, a lovely turkish coffee imperial stout, and there’s bottles of it for sale at £4.50 in the ‘Pop Up’ bar at the moment.

The ‘Pop Up’ bar works because it’s not trying to be something it’s not – it doesn’t have fancy furniture, it lets the beer do the talking.  There was also a great playlist of 50’s and 60’s music – and crisps that were refilled for punters who were drinking inside too – simple, but effective ways to please the customer.

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Craig auditioning for a role in The Rovers Return for ‘Coronation Street’!  (At The Made of Bradford bar)

8:10pm

We arrive at the main Bradford Brewery site and were welcomed by Alison, who told us all about the brewery’s plans and their current offerings.  The Brewery has only been going 20 months – yet have some big plans!

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A quick snapshot of Saturday night in Bradford Brewery…

Alison said that the plans going forward are to push the sales of the cask beers, rather than emphasis on the bottled beers – so the best way to try their products is to come down for yourselves!  Take a look at this article from Bradford’s very own Telegraph and Argus site, which mentions the brewery’s plans for ‘The New Pack Horse’ pub – http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/business/14287728.Bradford_Brewery_marks_first_anniversary_with_new_expansion_plans/

Alison gets me a sample of the Bradford Brewery ‘Solero’ beer – admitedly not my favourite, but Craig liked it – and if we all like the same thing, that would be a bit boring wouldn’t it?!  In the end I pick a pint of Bradford Brewery’s ‘Hockney Pale’ (3.6% ABV), and it’s a glorious pint – a pale ale that leaves you wanting more.  Craig went for a ‘Slightly Foxed’ ale from nearby Sowerby Bridge – Alison was saying that they regularly ‘swap’ beers with other local breweries, so great to see an offering of these too.

The Bradford Brewery venue is busy on this Saturday night with an engagement party on one side of the building; it’s the loudest venue we’ve been in so far since the start of the evening.  Who said everyone’s at home watching Strictly and The X Factor?  No sign of that here.

The Bradford Brewery host a quiz night on Wednesdays… and Alison hosts the quiz every other week too.  There’s also a monthly ‘Funk and Soul’ night – worth adding to the diaries.

They’re also going to be hosting a vinyl evening in November too – bring your records… give them a spin and have a beer whilst you listen to yours and everyone else’s selections!  I love my vinyl – sounds good to me, who fancies coming?  But which record do I take?  Decisions, decisions…  The Bradford Brewery pub also offers a selection of food and bar snacks too – so eat, drink and be merry my friends…

You can check out the Bradford Brewery website at http://bradfordbrewery.com/

9:00pm

Time to head to North Parade and a visit to ‘The Sparrow’.  It’s been there for over five years now – and is home to a wide selection of beers and ciders.  Take a look at their chalk board below for the range available on the night we went!

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Hmm… where do I start (Picture of the drinks selection in The Sparrow)

The Sparrow has consistently grown in popularity since its launch.  It gets particularly busy when Bradford City are at home – and there’s always a good atmosphere before and after the match… with treats such as ‘Pie and Peas’ for punters whilst they drink!  If you venture into the Sparrow and it looks busy – bear in mind there’s more seating downstairs too.

The Sparrow for me, has the feel of a Prague bier cafe – you can unwind in there and forget you’re actually in Bradford!  In the past, they’ve put big sporting events on the TV downstairs – a cosy setting to watch the World Cup or European Championships.  I can recall being in one night a couple of years ago when England were playing Italy.  The Sparrow went the extra mile by putting on English food as well as Italian food – a genius touch!

I get a half of Dark Star ‘Hophead’ (3.8% ABV) – nice little drink…  Chris gets a half of the Fell Brewery’s ‘Tinderbox IPA’ and Craig gets half of Wild Beer Co’s ‘Millionaire Chocolate Stout’.  Interesting to remember that they also sell single malt whiskies in The Sparrow – starting at £3 for a single measure.

You can find out more about the Sparrow right here on their website – http://thesparrowbradford.co.uk/

‘The Sparrow’ has plenty of other bars in close proximity on North Parade now – within metres there’s The Record Cafe, The Beer House, Plonk, Al’s Dime Bar, City Gent… I could go on.  All of them really busy tonight, with people filling up the pavements outside each bar, and even more people inside.  It seems this is where the heart of Bradford’s nightlife has moved to – people probably like it because now, a pub crawl can be completed without trekking far – a shame perhaps, considering bars such as The Ginger Goose, City Vaults, Brew Haus, Jacobs and Sir Titus Salt are well worth a look too but I wonder how busy these pubs were tonight.

9:50pm

In the end, we decide against going in one of North Parade’s bars – and headed back to the Made of Bradford ‘Pop Up’ bar – and the time genuinely flew by, until it was time to get on the last bus back to Holme Wood.  Craig even found a book about the 1920’s and 1930’s lurking in the bar, and made an offer to Ulya for it (she even signed it for him!).  Me and Chris had a pint and a half of the Bradford Brewery Lager (4.5% ABV) in here on our return – a superb lager, not too heavy like a lot of premium lagers, and has a really nice taste to it.

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Me trying to pull a pint (and failing miserably) at the Made of Bradford bar.

 

11:05pm

On the 618 back home – a really good night.  So, give Bradford some consideration – wherever you are!  There’s a good rail network into Bradford, with late trains operating in/out of Forster Square and Bradford Interchange…  there’s also plenty of hotels in the city now (Travelodge, Premier Inn, Holiday Inn Express, etc) – good bars, good company… what are you waiting for?!

Check out the ‘Made of Bradford’ Pop Up Bar Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/bradfordbrewerypopup/ – it’s worth a visit, open 7 days a week.  Tell Ulya that the Two Chris’s and Craig sent you!

 

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