If you turn to the Beer In The Evening website and look up the wonderful Victoria Family and Commercial Hotel in Leeds you will discover that it is listed as being "Closed". When I discovered this last week I did what any true lover of a traditional city-centre Victorian hotel would do : I jumped on a train and went to investigate. And I am delighted to announce that there is absolutely no truth in the closure claim ; The Victoria Hotel is alive and well - and if when I called in is anything to go by - thriving.
It had been a long time since I had been in the Vic and therefore it was a real pleasure to re-acquaint myself with the mahogany booths, leather seats and polished brass. You can sit at the end of the long bar and look at a scene that could have almost been pickled in aspic. A true visual delight. And to accompany the visual feast you can tuck into a feast of home-cooked food and excellent beers and ales. There are three bars in all and each is worth a thorough investigation. If you think you deserve a treat, why not try a pint in each!
I had a pint of Barnsley Bitter, which is now brewed by the Acorn Brewery in Barnsley. Originally it was brewed by the Barnsley Brewery which - in the early 1960s - was gobbled up by John Smith's and later the Courage Group. The Acorn Barnsley Bitter claims to use the original yeast strains used to brew Barnsley Bitter almost 150 years ago. Whatever its antecedents, its smashing stuff and a fine accompaniment to the Vic. When the Barnsley Brewery was closed down in 1976 I remember a little ditty that was going the rounds in South Yorkshire at the time. "Now Barnsley Brewery's closing down; They might as well close the bloody town". I am delighted to report that a similar rhyme does not have to be written about the Victoria Hotel.