Beer Blog

The Angel, Scarbro’

Angel Scarbro'-1

If I’m going to be perfectly honest, Good Beer Guide pub or not, it wasn’t the beer that would have me returning to The Angel in Scarbro’. Don’t get me wrong, nothing wrong with it. The Timothy Taylor’s Landlord was decent, probably slightly North of 3 on NBSS.

I had to have Landlord because there was no way I was having Tetleys or Sharp’s Doom Bar. I might … might have had a half of Wainwright if … If there had been nothing else on … maybe. I might have had Guinness ..?

Okay, the beer was pretty decent, but hardly an inspiring selection. No, the key element in the Angel was that thing I’d discussed in the summer with performance artists Katie Etheridge and Simon Persighetti that People, Place, Beer and Time element that is so important in a good pub.

Time? Now, just coming dark on a Friday in late December, make that about half past three then.

Angel Scarbro'-6

People? Plenty, I counted just over two dozen, most of the seats were occupied and there were a good few stood at the bar. A nice mix of folk too; couple of visitors, mostly local people, young, old, middle aged shopping bags, work clothes, dominoes and World Championship darts. Characters were in abundance. Everyone was friendly and welcoming and not a glimmer of an edge, anywhere.

Place? Yeah, I know it’s The Angel, a place best defined as a ‘select’ back street boozer with roaring fires and a very warm welcome in this horseshoe shaped single room pub.

Going back to my theory and the three dimensional triangle (you’ll have to click through to the previous post, I’m not wasting time explaining it in detail again) The Angel suggests that People and Place, may be more important than Beer? If not then why were 90% of the customers drinking UK Pilsner variants (lager to you mate)? I think Beer (as in real ale) needs replacing with ‘a considered safe bet’ in lots of pubs like this – Discuss?



The pub is smartly decorated in a very comfortable, tending towards old school, but modern in style and done with some thought and quality too. The toilets are exceptional. The well equipped outdoor courtyard has colourful down lights, heaters and a separate covered smoking area with soft music. There’s coat/handbag hooks under the lip of the bar; surely a mark of a proper boozer?

If you want to watch sport on TV then watch away, you can see one of the many screens from wherever you are. They even have the Angel Athletic FC based in the pub. There’s darts and doms nights, free Wi-Fi and a decent little Gin bar too.

If you walk round Scarbro’ you’ll see some real dead-heads in some of the pubs. But not in here. The people in here are proper decent people, the sort of people that make a proper pub. The landlady is a proper landlady. Okay there’s two of them, sisters who’ve had the pub for three years now. I spoke with Janette, a smartly dressed, well spoken, well presented, attractive fifty something Scarbro’ lass. The pub was surely the embodiment of her personality.

Angel Scarbro'-7

Janette said she was pleased that the inclusion in GBG and the investment in Cask Mark was attracting punters. She introduced me to Graham, the cellar man who looked after the beer, he told me he’d been in the trade on and off for forty years. I told him it was a nice drink of Landlord. He obviously knew what he was doing because he told me it was a challenging beer to keep well.

I didn’t tell Janette or Graham that I thought the beer range was a bit too boring for my taste, they were both far too nice to say ‘owt like that. I thought about it a bit though. On reflection, they don’t need no progressive beers here, it’s a proper pub, with proper people, in a proper place. In any case, like I said, most people were drinking lager and they all seemed very happy. Maybe on another day there might have been a couple of more interesting beers on the two vacant hand pulls?

To be fair, I thought they’d stopped making pubs like this. I’ve been in lots of similar ones but they never seem to have many customers or any life in them. I never expected The Angel to be buzzing like this, especially considering it’s that flat, Christmas is finished and everyone’s saving themselves for New Years Eve in two days time period.

Verdict: Absolute pleasure to visit this smashing example of what a proper ‘select’ local should be like.


43 replies »

  1. There is truth in your theory. Obviously those of us who travel long distances to visit English pubs come at things from a different angle, but your theory points to what makes the English pub special. Three things are underrated in my opinion: the publican, people and the ambiance\décor. Most micropubs leave me cold. The only thing that does save them is when you encounter great people and conversation. And I hate to say this but conversation happens less in micros than people expect. My best people interactions have happened in pubs like The Lamb. Older traditional boozers with unassuming local people in them. Ones with great décor\ambiance and people who reflect the owners love of the establishment. Beer is important. But it isn’t the only thing.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I agree. The theory of People, Place and Beer with a third dimension of time (because pubs change over time and even change with time of day on a particular day or different days of the week,etc.) I’m an out and out beer snob, but in terms of a proper British pub, it doesn’t seem to concern many people, probably the majority if I’m going to be honest. The ‘corporate memory’ of a large section of the British public still believes that real ales are ‘dodgy and best avoided’. Hence mainstream Lagers are the #1 choice, followed by mainstream John Smith’s smooth types and ‘so called real ales’ like Doom Bar, GK, Marston’s and stuff like Tetleys and bass that are contract brewed by the big brewers who peddle all the aforementioned!


      • I find the idea of “beer snob” interesting. When the term is used it seems to exclude traditional bitters served on cask from being classified as great beers. (I am not implying your post does this, but the idea popped into my head.) I truly struggle with this exclusion. A great bitter, even if brewed by Greene King (Abbot?), served on cask is in my opinion one of the worlds greatest beers. Beer snobbery seems to class hoppy or rare styles over other styles. Would a true beer snob not agree that the best bitter or German keller bier is equal to a really well made IPA? I do believe your theory is spot on though. With time being the issue! How often does a return visit disappoint or cause us to change a previously negative opinion of a pub? Great stuff on the blog. Curious if you don’t mind a question. If you had to pick the top five traditional pubs in Leeds what would you pick?

        Liked by 2 people

      • I guess we’re all different. I wouldn’t touch Abbot with yours! The car analogy suits here – once upon a time a Ford Cortina was a very good, popular car over here, it has now been surpassed in all ways by modern cars.

        Taking this further a great bitter is as good as a great German/Belgian/USA beer. Like a vintage Rolls Royce is as good as an old top of the range Merc. Take Mercedes now, they make great cars if you are buying the premium end, but they’re knocking the lower end cars out like … well like Ford’s.

        Anyhow – best trad pubs in Leeds city centre? Whitelocks, Duck & Drake, Templar, Victoria, Scabby Taps, Grove would be my first picks for a visitor.

        Liked by 1 person

      • LOL. (Liking something at some point does matter.) In the end I think a lot of people are letting really lousy beers off the hook because they are classified as “craft.” The whole pale ale and IPA thing in the US is an example of this. I argue that Abbot Ale is a qualitatively better made beer than a lot of the lousy pale ales we crank out over here. (I point to Robinsons’ beers as a further example. Unicorn is a fine ale to me.) But it’s great if Mark loves himself some Tetley! In the end the variety is a good thing. Thanks for the Leeds pointers. I think I had missed the Grove for our list.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh the ignorance of these small town people! It’s under Holbeck because that’s where it is, in Holbeck, Leeds 11. Although it is only a few minutes walk from city station, it is not in the city centre which is defined as ‘within the inner ring road’ and postcodes LS1, LS2 & LS3 (part of). Holbeck is an ancient village and one of the cradles of the industrial revolution and it has it’s own unique identity that is today separate to Leeds city centre. I could of course point Dave, or anyone else, in the direction of a nice little Holbeck pub crawl; The Hop, Archies, The Midnight Bell, The Cross keys, Northern Monk Brew Co. Refectory and The Grove – old traditional and the very best of the modern and some modern traditional, along with some very fine victorian architecture and history. In fact if he comes over I will take him round personally, it’s one of my favourite parts of Leeds, with many hidden secrets (Italian campanile, Egyptian Temples, river, rail, canal and the start of the M1, and of course the Dark Arches). I’l even see if I can arrange a trip round Leeds Brewery.

        Liked by 1 person

      • What is the criteria for splitting up a city into subcategories? It does not seem consistent, but maybe I am missing the logic.


      • It’s a bit like New York, you’ve got Bronx, Queens, Manhattan, then in Manhattan you’ve got Soho, Noho, Devils kitchen, Chinatown. Just the same here, in the larger cities it’s useful to use areas for reference. Pointless traipsing round Leeds city centre looking for a pub when actually it’s in the district of Headingley 3 miles out of the centre.


  2. Love that second photo– you caught that guy turning to the camera at just the perfect time, didn’t you?

    Certainly from my point of view the distinctive thing about a pub is the feel of the place itself and the wide variety of people (in comparison to America’s dark TV-filled sports bars). The whole beer thing comes further down the list, and really a humble pint of Landlord fits my image of what an old school pub is supposed to have, rather than some super-hoppy IPA or boozy stout that gets accolades from beer aficionados.

    I mean, great if they also have such things; but I wouldn’t deduct points for a pub sticking to the beers everyone’s dad used to drink.

    Liked by 1 person

    • To be fair Landlord is a very good beer (the other ones are sh1t3 IMO). I don’t think more progressive beers would sell in a proper pub like this AND if they did they would change the whole dynamic of the place as the clientele would change.

      I like that photo too 😊

      Liked by 2 people

      • It’s okay. But it’s not Tetley’s. Tets was brewed in Leeds for Leeds people, a creamy easy drinking session beer that was legendary (Not to be confused with Tetley-Walker a totally different brew). It is no longer brewed in Leeds and is now made in the midlands in a large beer factory for the people who own the brand name.

        Liked by 1 person

      • If ‘you’ like it, it must be good! What I like might not suit most people. Some people like Doom Bar and believe it is real ale – it might be, just. All these mass produced ones are filtered and fined to death, the residual ‘live’ yeast particles in the finished product may be few and very far between.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “I quite like the taste of Tetley’s, but it’s a well documented fact that I know nothing about beer!”

        Pfft. The only “knowing” you need to know is what you like. 🙂


        PS – Along with that, my favourite go-to beer at present is a Canadian version of ESB. Blood Alley Bitter*:

        For me, it’s so good I have to be careful how I drink it as it will go down like bloody candy! 🙂


        * – and no, I don’t like it due to the fact the brewery has my name; although I did get hold of them and bought one of their pint glasses since it has “Russell” emblazoned upon it. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks, Dave. I can’t doubt Richard is right about Tetley’s (and who knows how many other brands) having been much better in years past, when they were brewed by the original companies. If I could magically have a pint of what Tetley’s used to taste like, no doubt I’d love it!

    I just lament the fact that very few of these new craft companies are even bothering to make something along the lines of an old school bitter, so you don’t even have it as an option here in America, and have to turn to something like a can of Boddingtons just to approximate the taste. Meanwhile you’ve got 50 different hoppy IPAs to choose from, and stouts and lagers and seemingly every other style ever invented except a good old British bitter.


    • Oddly, Cloudwater made a “Bitter” which on cask was one of the greatest thing I’ve ever had (at York Tap) before deciding they wanted to drop cask and concentrate on “experimentation”. I haven’t seen a Cloudwater beer in a pub for months now.


      • Cloudwater Bitter was sublime – a modern interpretation of a classic style. But isn’t everything? If people want to try an ‘old’ version of a Bitter then go no further than OBB (or Palmers in Dorset) both old, established in 17 something, malty, not many, and only English hops (hops have always been an expensive commodity), I reckon the recipe will not have changed much over time. I guess my point is – things move on. And we need to appreciate what was, what is, what will be and the change process itself. Yes Cloudwater cask ales were good, but we won’t see them any more on general release (there’s a post somewhere on here where I talk to Paul from Cloudwater and he talks about it). And No, I haven’t seen Cloudwater OTB anywhere, just in quite expensive cans and bottles, they are very good though, although they can get a bit samey. What will happen is they will move on again – someone did tell me they aren’t managing to balance the books at the minute. It’s the journey that counts for me, I mean if things hadn’t moved on we wouldn’t just have 17th century coaching inns and no mid victorian boozers and if they hadn’t moved on we wouldn’t have road houses and then estate pubs. We’d never get to micros and wherever that’s going to lead – what’s that? People will just sit at home drinking the cheapest lager they can buy – Never!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Got to agree on the Doom Bar,the most over rated ale by some distance and there’s some competition out there.See also Bombardier,Spitfire,Hobgoblin.


  5. Great conversations. Don’t forget Richard has as dry a sense of humour as I do !

    I agree with Dave on Abbot, at it’s best it’s still superb (recent example: the Fat Cat, Norwich). Tetley – I think Richard is right, but was good in Cleethorpes. In fact the ONLY beers I’ve NEVER had in superb form are Doom Bar and Eagle IPA.

    Loved the Angel. And their beer range.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Doom Bar was, I thought, very nice when I drank it in Rock where it originated. I’ve even stood on the Doom Bar, a sand spit in the Camel estuary. The brewery was in a small industrial estate at the top of the village and you could only get it within a 20 mile radius of the village. That was back in the nineties though. It’s just a safe bet for the unadventurous these days, probably because it’s ubiquitous, a lot of people like to know where they are with things and tend not to change – that’s how branding works for these mega-brewers, I’m sure you are aware that Doom Bar is the American brewer Molson-Coors.


      • So you’re saying Doom Bar was a nice car years ago, but a major manufacturer bought it and let the quality slip? I think I’m catching on here…


      • “So you’re saying Doom Bar was a nice car years ago, but a major manufacturer bought it and let the quality slip?”

        Enjoying this post and all of its comments. As to the above, let me just state that I was an avid Guinness drinker up until 2012 or thereabouts. Got bought out by Diageo (?) and since then I maybe buy it by the can about twice a year and it doesn’t do a thing for me (to be fair, it’s not that bad on keg in bars over here). So yes, fully agree that the bigger the production, the lower the quality is very apropos.



      • It could be that it doesn’t travel as well as it used to (I’ve always heard that Guinness tastes better the closer you are to Ireland); or it could be that my tastes are changing as I get older.*


        * – if it’s changing tastes I hope I don’t completely lose my love of beer. 😱

        Liked by 1 person

    • Quite true Ian. Those of us over on this side of the pond might not appreciate that to the extent you do over there. My brother has commented on that when he and I visit our saintly mom every year near Toronto. He and I manage to sneak out for a pint (or two!) whilst staying with Mom for a week or so and he always comments on how no one over here talks to one another in the bar. He lives in northern France and I’ve been to visit him twice. And while his haunts aren’t exactly pubs the people within are a good mix and chatty for the most part. If you were to strike up a conversation over here with someone at the next table they would probably think you’re a tad unstable.

      I think Mark and Dave would agree but I won’t speak for them. 🙂



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