The riverside beer garden at Kirkstall Bridge ended up under several feet of water following the Boxing Day floods. Indeed, it was testament to the resolve of its denizens that some of them at least they remained firmly seated, calmly sipping pints of real ale, even as the waters rose around their waists.
A picture of a couple of drinkers sat on the partially submerged benches outside the pub went viral and even made the national papers.
Four months on and the devastation wrought by the floods can still be seen, as part of the riverbank has been washed away and part of the old beer garden has had to be abandoned.
But when we dropped in to the Bridge last week, following a lazy Sunday afternoon stroll along Leeds Liverpool Canal, it was clear that its customers haven’ let a bit of water dent their enthusiasm for what is, a quite remarkable real ale pub.
The beer garden has been remodelled, with the riverside section fenced off (at least for the time being), bu it’s still large enough to accommodate a dozen or so wooden tables without feeling cramped and you’re far enough from the surrounding roads to make it feel as though you could be just about anywhere your mind fancies.
Inside, we found the two-storey pub pretty busy too, with a decent mix of clientele.
This pub is a real ale lover’s dream. In fact, if you were in the mood, you could quite happily spend all day here, sampling the various beers, not to mention takin on som ballasts - they also do great food.
In terms of beer, there#s Kirkstall Pale Ale 4 per cent, £3, Three Swords 4.5 per cent, £3.10, Dissolution IPA 5 per cent, £3.30, Black Band Porter, 5.5 per cent, £3.40, Generous George, 6.1 per cent, £3.80, and Framboise 3.6 per cent at £4.80 a pint. They also have Cornish Orchards Gold Cider, 4.5 pe cent at £3.80.
In short, there’s somethin to suit jus about every palate and the atmosphere is quite olde worldy without ever feeling like that’s somethin which has been forced upon the venue.
Just one bugbear. For a long time, this pub did not have a sign, although it still sports the arching metal crest between it and the neighbouring building, which reads ‘Old Birdge Inn’.
Now they have a white canvass affair, emblazoned with the Kirkstall Brewery logo, pinned above the door, which is fine, I suppose, but would, nonetheless look better if it were made from something a little bit more permanent - that at least would be fitting for a pub whose owners clearly have a steely resolve when it comes to adversity and would also be an indication of their intention to remain a central part of the local drinking scene in years to come.