Leeds-List - Leeds' ultimate magazine and guide

New to Leeds: The Cardigan Arms

· Ali Turner · Food and Drink

This beautiful Victorian pub has reopened with a bar full of craft beer.

The Cardigan Arms

It’s had a chequered past, but now The Cardigan Arms is in safe hands…

Have you heard? Kirkstall Brewery has taken over The Cardigan Arms. After years of mismanagement, the struggling pub was under threat – and the local brewery stepped in to save the day. It’s basically their local, just 5 minutes away from the place where they make their famous beers, so where better to open their second Leeds pub?

Now, as you might remember, The Cardigan Arms is a proper Victorian boozer and you’ll be happy to hear that they’ve stayed true to its history. In fact, you won’t feel like you’ve walked into a new pub at all. It’s had a deep, deep clean, but they’ve kept much of its original charm. The old carpets had to go, they were too far gone, but the new ones are in keeping with the style of pub.

The Cardigan Arms

It’s still got all those lovely little snugs for you to hide away in, with the big circular bar, and there are vintage brewery mirrors just about everywhere you look, just like there always were. But now it’s had a new lick of paint, the woodwork’s back to its good old best and everything’s looking dapper again, right down to those cosy benches along the back wall.

But not everything has stayed the same. The bar has had a major overhaul. Oh, it still looks as traditional as it ever did, but now it stocks some of finest craft beers in the land. Needless to say, Kirkstall’s own make an appearance. You can try their freshest beer, the Brudenell IPA, which comes in at 6%. It’s a light, fruity beer made with Citra, Amarillo and Mosaic hops. But if you want an insider tip, General Manager Ian Forster would point you in the direction of their Dexter Milk Chocolate Stout.

“It’s an absolutely glorious milk chocolate stout,” he told us. “We have brewed it with tons and tons of chocolate, and it comes out extra smooth because of the way we have roasted the malt, and to be honest it’s a beautiful strength of beer at 4.5%.”

The Cardigan Arms

Alongside their own beers, they’ve got oodles of American and European craft beers. If you fancy trying something British, they’ve got Buxton, Mad Hatter and 5 Points, not to mention our very own Northern Monk and North Brew Co. For those of you who like to get your beers from further afield, they’ve shipped in Dry & Bitter from Copenhagen and Firestone Walker from California, as well as your favourite Odell sours and German Weiss beers.

Now, all that beer will probably give you an appetite and they’ve got you covered there too. They’ve got a menu of pub classics, all made with locally sourced ingredients. Their meat comes from Lishman’s in Ilkley and their bread comes from Leeds Bread Coop, so you’re in for a treat. Tuck into Toulouse sausages with black bacon mash, Vegan Mousakka and Kirkstall Three Swords Battered Fish and Chips. Looking for a light bite? They’ve got a wicked Scotch egg (veggie too if you want) and popcorn cockles for the old school crowd. Hell, they even do brunch – anyone for Corned Beef Hash?

That all sounds great, and it is, but it’s about to get better, because they have a pub quiz. It takes place every Tuesday, there’s a movie round and a food round to go along with the general knowledge questions and you can bag a bar tab if you win. But that’s not all, because they also do Sunday night jazz, and they’re plotting a series of supper clubs and beer tastings in the not-so-distant future. Sounds like The Cardigan Arms is going to be much more than just your run of the mill local.

Cardigan Arms, 364 Kirkstall Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS4 2HQ.