Simon Richardson settles into a new gaff by the Meanwood Brewery bros
It’s fair to say that Meanwood is one of Leeds’ most exciting suburbs. It’s rammed full of quality independent food and booze businesses, as well as a young, discerning population (nothing like me then). In fact, I like it so much I spent a full day there last year and wrote this.
Now, all this choice makes it great for a night out, but it also means that it’s a highly competitive area in which to open a bar or restaurant. If you want to sell beer in Meanwood these days, you’re competing with The Hungry Bear, Alfred, East of Arcadia, newcomers Boot and Rally and established but excellent boozers like Myrtle Tavern or The Bay Horse.
You’d have to have a really decent business model to fit in…or be completely mad.
Fortunately, Meanwood Brewery owners Baz and Graeme Phillips tick a minimum of one of those boxes. Terminus has been planned for a while, but finally opened its doors to the public in November 2018. Named after the old Meanwood tram terminus, it’s been a real labour of love for the brothers. It doesn’t take you long to figure out why it took them a bit of time either.
Nothing is bare, dark or unused: it’s really well lit and the excellent array of Meanwood brewery t-shirts and caps - plus all the pictures, plants and artwork for sale - close the room in around you both downstairs and up. The back bar is crammed full of booze too, with several wines and the full Leeds Gin range to accompany the beer.
The selection is superb. They’ve got the recent Northern Monk wet hop saison (£5.80) and a range of Wilde Child’s beer on keg and cask, including the Brew-denell collaboration Earl of Cardigan (£5.40). My spider senses are tingling; it must be a tap takeover. There’s also a couple from Keighley’s Wishbone on cask, Fuzz and Eclipse. In fact, the very next evening is another tap takeover by Armley-based Anthology, so they’ve certainly got the bookings in quickly.
The service is friendly and knowledgeable, with genuine enthusiasm and excitement about the offering for the evening. Criminally, I didn’t even have a Meanwood beer while I was there but Pilgrim and Trickster are two that I’d recommend though from past experience. The essence of the Meanwood beers is like a fusion cuisine of alcohol; traditional English beers but reimagined for the craft era. It’s certainly a take that’s very much ‘in’ at the moment, with English ale flavours really coming back into popularity in 2018/19.
It’s not the beer that makes Terminus so worth a visit, though, which might seem like an odd thing to say about a taproom. What it has in spades is atmosphere. All the carefully organised clutter, right down to the board games, makes it feel homely but not cramped. It feels like a village pub; laughter fills the room and I feel genuinely energised, even though I count a total of 21 people in the place. It’s rare that such a small number feels so full of life.
I bet it gets hot in there in summer, but it doesn’t matter, because there’s a spacious bit of decking and seating outside, which really plays into one of the brewery’s strengths; being tucked away, far enough from Stonegate Road, to avoid the passing cars lightly seasoning you with pollution as you try to enjoy your outdoor pint.
So, next time you’re in Meanwood, I urge you to schedule a visit to Terminus: it’s one of my favourite new openings in Leeds and worth a trip to the suburb on its own, but it also fits in beautifully with the already vibrant, varied Meanwood bar scene.
Terminus, 8a Stonegate Road, Meanwood LS6 4HY
Main image: Jeremy Kelly
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you're passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.
Wilde Child Earl of Cardigan 8, Northern Monk Wet Hop Saison 9, Wishbone Fuzz 7
A genuinely warm, lively village feel
Staff know their beer and are happy to discuss it with you