Beer Tours: Leeds

– Liam Toms (Untappd: liamtoms)

It’s funny how beer can end up taking you from one place to the next. I was browsing the excellent selection in Southampton’s Bitter Virtue late last year and amongst the flyers and zines I picked up was an ad for Northern Monk’s brewery and refectory tap room at the Old Flax Store in Leeds. I was planning a UK trip for the Spring and decided to add a Leeds stop to the tour, based on this flyer alone. Flash forward three months and I’m 239 miles north enjoying a half of New World IPA.

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I did have some prior knowledge of Northern Monk. They’d recently become my regular train beer of choice, due to being well stocked in Marks and Spencers at London Waterloo station. I always thought their beers were good, but the selection I had at the Old Flax Store has placed Northern Monk in my current top 3 breweries. The highlight was their pina colada imperial double black IPA, also known as ‘Tropical Death Party’. It was a pricey round at £10 a pint, but this is a beer to be experienced!

From Northern Monk, we ventured back into the city centre (it’s about a 15 minute walk out to the Old Flax Store, but well worth the detour). Walking around Leeds you get the impression that this is a city that celebrates good beer. Everywhere we went we saw signage and branded vehicles for local bars and breweries. Our quick loop round was by no means an extensive exploration, in fact we barely scratched the surface.

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As with most UK cities now, there’s a Brewdog to be found. I was pleased to find this branch had a Brewdog ‘small batch’ on tap, which is something I hadn’t seen in other cities. It was similar in taste to many of the other Brewdog double IPA’s I’ve had before, but I was still satisfied that I’d managed to find a local exclusive. Upstairs are two or three booths with classic Nintendo consoles and a selection of games. Our cartridge of choice was Super Mario Bros 3.

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The next stop was North Bar, flagship outlet of Leeds based North Brewing Co. I’m always keen to try one of the brewery’s own and I’m pleased to report that Sputnik Pale Ale did not disappoint! North Bar also has it’s own photo booth which I meant to check out but didn’t get round to (probably for the best as I was half cut by this point).

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We finished the night at Tapped, another bar offering a few of their own and a range of guest. For a craft beer stop it’s actually a fair sized room, but was still busy for a Tuesday night. I tried their IPA on tap but found it to be undrinkable, it’s not often this happens but they did welcome my feedback and gave me another drink for free!

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Before we left Leeds the following morning we visited Tall Boys bottle shop. If we didn’t feel enough like alcoholics already, going to buy beer while still hungover from the night before, we learnt that they couldn’t serve us until 11am, so had to kill an hour first! The staff were very knowledgable and pointed us in the right direction of a few local beers worth picking up.

If you visit any of the places featured in this blog, please let them know that Beer Tours sent you.

Beer lists:

Liam

Sam

 


 

– Ed Shaw (Untappd: edshaw1977)

For my visit to Leeds in February I decided to take in a few destinations not covered in our previous review. The variety and quality of the craft beer haunts in these parts made for another enjoyable day out, with even more still left to visit next time.

I started out at The Brunswick, situated on the corner of North St and Melbourne St in the north of the city centre. An attractive building both inside and out, the choice of beers mirrored the great first impression. My first beer of the day was from local micro-brewery Wilde Child, which started life in April 2016. It was a lovely IPA called Opaque Reality and proved to be one of my favourites for this tour. There was so much good beer on offer I would have been happy to spend the whole afternoon here were it not for the other interesting places on the itinerary!

Next to the bustling Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen for another beer and some lunch. We were lucky enough to visit on a day that saw numerous street food vendors take over the premises, so there was plenty of choice. To accompany the Korean dish I opted for, I had a nice pint of Buxton SPA, an American Pale. The bar was really busy so it was hard to see too much of what was on offer here, so I will return sometime either for another meal or for one of the gigs they regularly hold here.

After a quick visit to an American event being held in North Bar and a Sonoma by Track Brewing it was on to The Turk’s Head off Briggate. This lovely little bar can be found by walking down an alley past the 18th Century Whitelock’s Ale House. In fact, they are both the same business, with more traditional pub fare to be found in Whitelock’s and some great craft offerings in The Turk’s Head. It was very busy but as we had managed to get a table we stayed here for a few beers, most notably the Star Wars themed Rey Of Light, an episode VIII% from Bristol’s Moor Beer Company.

After a quick pint of a decent blonde ale called Contraption from Abbeydale Brewery (the most interesting thing about our brief visit to Foleys Tap House on The Headrow), it was Wapentake on Kirkgate that would be our next port of call. A quaint little place with some good beers available, I went for a fairly traditional IPA from the Brass Castle micro-brewery in Malton (North Yorkshire) called Sunshine.

Despite sunshine being the last thing on the Leeds weather agenda we braved the downpour and ventured next door to the Doghouse Bar & Record Store, a nice little place with beers on offer from Horsforth Brewery, another very small local brewer. I had a bottle of their Aubretia Black IPA.

From here we had a quick one in the busy Outlaws Yacht Club (a Wylam, Hickey The Rake) then on to our final call, Caravanserai on Crown St. There was no beer to be had here but I had one of the best kebabs I have ever tasted, a Chicken Shawarma. This proved to be the perfect end to the evening.

Bonus visits:

Earlier in the day I was treated to visits to two excellent beer shops – Raynville Superstore (14-16 Raynville Rd, Leeds, LS12 2TF) and Beer Ritz (14 Weetwood Ln, Leeds, LS16 5LX) – which are both highly recommended with great selections of International, UK and local bottles and cans available.

Magic Rock Tap Room – a brewery that I’m sure needs no introduction to most has a large tap room at its brewery in Huddersfield, about 20 minutes drive from Leeds city centre. An inviting, well decorated space, with a bar offering about 10 Magic Rock beers on tap and some of their cans and merchandise, as well as street food (weekends only, I think).

If you visit any of the places featured in this blog, please let them know that Beer Tours sent you.

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