I was back in Leeds recently. A city that was my home for seven years. For many of them, I had one true love: the Cardigan Arms.
I can't exactly remember how we first met. It's all connected with Simon. A school friend who was also studying in Leeds.
The first year, I may have seen Simon once. At the start of the second, I bumped into him and we stumbled into a pub. Three hours later, we were boozing buddies. Friendship renewed through a gallon of Tetley's Mild, drink of the gods.
Simon lived in a weird house in Headingley. I was in an even weirder spot out in Cross Green, in classic Leed back-to-back with the bogs in outdoor courtyard. There were loads of good local pubs. With handpulled Tetley's through univacs. Heaven, really. Yet I'd walk three miles to drink in my favourite.
I can remember that first time. When I said to Simon "Why don't we head out west? Away from all the fucking students."
There was a huge amount of excitement in my early years in Leeds, discovering new areas of Tetley's pubs beyond the student pale. We weren't disappointed when we headed down Kirkstall Road.
We first hit the Rising Sun. A magnificent former Melbourne house with amazing etched gass windows. But a few hundred metres further waited our true love. A pub so wonderful, I still dream of it. The Cardigan Arms.
When I arrived in Leed in 1975, electric pumps were the order of the day. The fascist health authorities had decided that univacs were unhygienic, and Tetley had ripped out the handpumps from most of their Leeds pubs. In a few grotty areas, where imminent demolition was anticipated , Tetley had let the old pumps remain.
The Sheepscar, in an area cleared save for the odd pub, was my first experience of handpulled Tetley's Mild. What the fuck? I'd been drinking the same beer for several months through electric pumps. The handpulled version was a revelation. So much better, it seemed like a different beer.
Me and Simon started drinking in the Cardigan when they had electric pumps. The beer was pretty good. Then Tetley changed their mind about handpulls.
One day we troll up in the Cardigan and the electric pumps are gone. Instead there's a wicket of handpulls. And the beer has gone from good to nectar. One of the best pints I've ever had.
And it remained like that. Tetley's Mild in the Cardigan was amazing. Drinkable, but subtly complex. Like Augustiner Heeles, but Mild. A suicidal beer that threw itself down your thoat before you could stop it. I miss it so much.
It was great being back in the Cardigan. Just a shame there was no Tetley's Mild.
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