Not a shallow attempt to get a view from the Paisley Pub Prince, but a report on a cheap pint of keg in one of my long-term bucket list pubs*.

Obviously you’ll want to know the important details of tonight’s trip to Leeds, like what Simon was wearing under his BRAPA mac, and how many times Richard mentioned Boycott.

That can wait.  I ended an evening truncated by the Northern Trains strike in the Duncan, a legendary hardcore Leeds United pub that some of us have been hoping would get in the Guide for years.



But it’s owned by Sam Smiths, which tends to disqualify pubs from the Guide outside of more enlightened towns like Newport, Scunthorpe and Stockport**.  Dropping the hand-pumped OBB confirmed this visit was never going to be a pre-emptive tick.


I guess it’s named after Duncan McKenzie, who I just about remember from a trip to Elland Road with my Dad in ’76, though the famous badge sticks more in the mind.

Duncan Mackenzie.PNG

This is one of the more basic Sam’s houses, almost social club in style, but with an incredibly homely feel, and high standards if not classic design.


A decent turn-out for 8.30pm on a Wednesday were playing pool, machines and chatting.


Notably, there were as many folk younger than me as older.  Many pubs these days seem to cater to the middle-aged (micros) or the young (brewery taps); in the Duncan all human life was there (except Man United fans).

As you’ll see, I went for the Stout, a velvety keg joy for £2.30 that almost persuaded me to tear up my CAMRA Gold Card.

You’ll notice the keg range eschews those fancy new beers Sam Smiths have been dabbling in lately, in favour of the old favourites.


As you’ll also deduce, this is a wonderful place to enjoy a pint in peace and quiet, at the end of an evening of seating of mixed quality.  And no-one stared at me or looked shocked by my Fen accent in this cathedral of Yorkshireness.

On the basis that Sir Humphrey might read this blog, I won’t disclose whether the locals breached the “No Swearing” rule, though I did hear the (presumed) landlady bellow “Language !” on occasion.


Banter next to me was BRAPA-esque, as the star turns at a big gig by ’80s legends was recalled.    “Bananarama, Boy George, Billy Elliot…”  “You mean Billy Ocean ?

But the highlight was a chap walking the pub asking to look at our fingernails, perhaps the first occasion in a UK pub.  It transpired he’d got a 5p piece stuck in the fruit machine and needed someone with nails to extract it. You don’t get that in an Ember Inn, I can tell you.


*I don’t really have a bucket list of pubs, of course.  But if I did, a pint of real Bud in a sports bar in Chicago would definitely be on it.

**No irony intended.

41 thoughts on “THE DUNCAN !!!

  1. “But if I did, a pint of real Bud in a sports bar in Chicago would definitely be on it.”

    Should have done that last year when the Cubs won the World Series. Now you’ll have to wait another hundred odd years. 😋


    PS – live the Billy Elliot/Ocean bit. I actually understood that. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

      1. “If we could avoid a US/Canada war it would be good 😱”

        I guess now would be a bad time to say I’m a Blue Jays fan. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. A great read, been a while since I have been in the Duncan but it hasn’t changed and nor would I expect it to.
    Next time you’re in Leeds I’ll buy you a pint in the General Elliot…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good to hear there was no shortage of younger folk in there.

    You can just imagine the crafterati curling their lips, shuffling in their seats and looking at their watches asking “is it time to move on to North Bar yet?”

    The name commemorates Admiral Duncan, victor of the Battle of Camperdown against the Dutch in 1797.


  4. On that picture I can see Sovereign Bitter, OBB, Double Four, Cider, Stout and Taddy Lager. No mild (of either type) visible, Alpine Lager or Pure Brewed Lager.


      1. The worse the beer offer, the more people are likely to be talking about it, in my experience. “Isn’t this beer shite, I can hardly drink it, what have you got, is it any better, shall we go somewhere else then” etc etc.

        I select pubs (mainly) based on the beer, but I don’t sit there talking about it.


      2. If you’re OK with carbonated beer, that range is fine for most drinkers, of course. I can remember a Stella drinking Cambridge mate being amazed by the quality and price of their lager in Sheffield before a match. The contempt for Sams on CAMRA Discourse recently is shameful.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Pure Brewed Lager tends not to be sold in the more, er, basic Sam Smiths pubs. Seems to have too much of an effect on the locals, as does the Wheat Beer.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “I don’t really have a bucket list of pubs, of course. But if I did, a pint of real Bud in a sports bar in Chicago would definitely be on it.” Done that. And in a Dive Bar. Same withoutthe tellies.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Bucket list is an american term,
    My wish list would be to visit any pub in Great Britain that i have not been in before,not bothered what it looks like or if it has real ales on the bar,just a pub that i have not done before.


      1. Nice cosy pub, two real fires, kinda brown, think Mudgie would love it.
        Dunno whether Bristol’s expensive or Leeds is cheap (probably the latter). In Bristol a pint of Guinness is typically over four quid (unless you’re in a Spoons, obviously)


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