IT doesn’t start until tomorrow, but I half wondered if the White Swan’s beer festival was already in full swing when I popped in for a pint on Tuesday evening and found a row of six Yorkshire ales all lined up and competing for my attention.
There were the usual suspects – Saltaire Blonde, Black Sheep and Landlord – but some harder-to-find surprises like Stancill and Black Sheep’s big hard cousin Riggwelter. No doubt in the interests of balance, Theakston’s are there too, with their Peculier IPA available on tap.
But I was immediately drawn to the eye-catching illustrated capital-A on the bar, the instantly-recognisable symbol for Ainsty Brewery. Relative newcomers to the scene, Ainsty are based in Acaster Malbis, south of York and are producing a range of sessionable ales which pack in plenty of flavour despite their moderate-strength. It’s the only brewery I’ve ever visited which has a piano in the brewhouse, too.
On this occasion I enjoyed the golden and firmly bitter Ainsty Best, while taking in the atmosphere of a pub which has seen some ups and downs over the years, but certainly seems now to be heading in the right direction.
Stepping through the front door, you arrive at an L-shaped bar beside a comfortable seating area with mismatched upholstered furniture and deep Chesterfield sofas in luxurious leather. The decor is all greys, browns and creams; around the walls are archive prints of bygone Yeadon.
To the left of the front door, huge circular light fittings hover above a room set for dining, with glinting cutlery, gleaming glasses and huge rural images in stylish monochrome. The dividing wall has been replaced with a vast glass panel retaining the separation between the two spaces but allowing light to flood through. Beyond here is a large airy room to the rear with a separate bar and picture windows looking out over the cricket fields.
The menu is a quality take on hearty pub fare, standards like pies, fish and chips, burgers, steaks and scampi, all for around the £9 mark. Close to the bar, a glass-fronted fridge displays shelves which have been stacked high with colourful and enticing desserts.
An A-board outside shows off a range of forthcoming events - live music, a Halloween quiz, and even a psychic night next Thursday.
But this weekend the focus is very much on the beer with a two-day mini beer festival featuring 12 cask ales from seven different breweries – and the £10 admission fee offers fabulous value for money, as it gives you four pints and a festival glass. All that and sturdy beer festival fare and live music.
It starts tomorrow at 2pm, and runs through until late on Saturday.
n There’s another beer festival taking place this weekend at the Wold Top Brewery in Wold Newton, featuring 18 beers from right across the UK. Event manager Anne Duerden said after the sell-out success of the brewery’s first ever beer festival last year, they were keen to repeat the event. “We had lots of really positive feedback with visitors telling us how much they enjoyed themselves.
“Not only was it a celebration of real ale, but people enjoyed the whole experience – the live music, the food, the setting and the camping, for those brave enough!”
At least the White Swan has proper bedrooms; it is October after all!
High Street, Yeadon
Type: Quality ale house and restaurant
Opening Hours: Noon-11pm Mon-Sat, noon-10.30pm Sun
Beers: Changing choice of six hand-pulled ales, predominantly from Yorkshire, plus craft keg choices. Fosters, Estrella and Moretti lagers, Aspall’s cider and Guinness
Wine: Good selection
Food: High-end pub dining served in a separate restaurant area or in the bar.
Children: Welcomed. Kids meals and high chairs available.
Disabled: Ramp access and disabled toilets
Entertainment: Programme of forthcoming events includes a psychic night next Thursday
Accommodation: Five ensuite bedrooms
Beer Garden: Outdoor tables
Parking: Large area alongside the cricket field
Telephone: 0113 3451383