Our round-up of 12 must-visit craft beer purveyors this Christmas
IT’S that time of year again. That’s right, time to spend all your hard-earned money on tat that ends up in boxes, or rubbish socks. But much more importantly, time to make a horrible pissed mess of yourself in the name of a magical baby. Last year, we went on a crawl taking in some of the best ale houses in the city. This time around, we’re wishing you a very merry Christmas with some of the best purveyors of craft beer that Leeds has to offer. Ready?
A sensible starting point for all commuters. The Northern Monk brewery has risen rapidly in the last few years, growing from a £5,000 passion project into a truly international brand with investment, a new bar in Manchester and a valuation of £10 million last year. If you’re feeling apprehensive about drinking 12 craft beers in one session, start with Striding Edge. At 2.8%, it’s a good way to ease yourself into what could turn out to be a very long day.
Northern Monk, Marshall Street, LS11 9YJ
Craft Asylum #1
We’re not going to keep you outside for long, so Osset Brewery’s modern-day craft upgrade is in the candle building just across the way, therefore representing an ideal second stop. If you’re after December-themed drinks, they’ve got a few ales that’ll tickle your pun-loving fancy. Otherwise, stick to craft and try their single hop beer, Cashmere. We’re still at 4%, so nothing dangerous… yet.
Craft Asylum #1, Candle House, Granary Wharf, LS1 4GJ
The Head Of Steam
OK, there’s a brand spanking new venue on Park Row, but it doesn’t beat the Mill Hill version, which is cosier, quirkier and more Belgian led. The circular bar stands out, as does the roaring fire, and it’s here you might decide to up the ABV with a Kwak or a Delirium Tremens. It’s a marathon, not a sprint though, so I’m keeping it low key for now and Wild Beer Co’s POGO is a 4.1% fruity delight.
The Head Of Steam, 12 Mill Hill, LS1 5DQ
Time for some responsible drinking. Pint 4 is probably the time to get some food in, and Bundobust is not only opposite The Head Of Steam, but also the ideal place to fill your belly. The okra fries and vada pav are legendary, and with spice-laden food, you want spice-laden beer. Fortunately, the Bombay Dazzler witbier is exactly that; ginger and coriander notes abound as we crank it up to 4.8%.
Bundobust, 6 Mill Hill, LS1 5DQ
Twenty-seven lines, 200 bottles and a massive pizza oven, Tapped is the largest venue in terms of selection on this crawl. Their own beers, brewed on site, are almost all excellent. The drinks menu changes regularly, so go with a recommendation from the knowledgeable staff, or pick your favourite style and have at it (my festive choice is the Noël mince pie amber ale – 5%).
Tapped, 51 Boar Lane, LS1 5EL
The Turk’s Head
If you can bear to walk past Whitelock’s without wandering in and being stuck forever in a wonderful wintery time warp, The Turk’s Head has an exceptional beer menu and a modern, laid-back vibe. Expect a few interesting collaborations here, but I tend to go in blind and let the mood take me. At this point, six pints down, I’d probably make a very unwisely strong choice too – best stick to a third or a half.
The Turk’s Head, Turk’s Head Yard, LS1 6AH
The White Swan
Not an obvious choice, granted, but one I’ve decided to add after a particularly pleasant evening here a few weeks ago. The White Swan is more ale than keg, but breweries like Northern Monk offer plenty of cask in their repertoire. Don’t Mess With Yorkshire, at 4.5%, is a regular in here and perfect for keeping a lid on things in advance of the next bar…
The White Swan, 5 Swan Street, LS1 6LG
…which is, of course, the daddy of them all. North has led the way in the craft beer industry for 20 years and, after a recent refit, it’s better than ever. The beer is awesome, the venue is always buzzing and it’s the perfect place to go properly local. Their own Transmission IPA is dangerous at 6.9%, but good God it’s excellent. I reckon it’s about here when the well-organised crawl descends into an absolute farce. The next four pubs probably won’t be happy to be so far along.
North Bar, 24 New Briggate, LS1 6NU
Belgrave Music Hall
The Belgrave is a bit of an assault on the senses. Loud, bright and hectic, it’s a younger crowd than some of the other bars on this list, but it’s a great place to get your second feed of the day. The Patty Smith’s Reuben is a ridiculously good burger and the pizza slices are satisfyingly massive. This is Leeds’ best spot for Beavertown too, so I’m going for Lupuloid at 6.7%, because I’m an idiot.
Belgrave Music Hall, Cross Belgrave Street, LS2 8JP
Love ’em or hate ’em, there’s no denying that Brewdog have done an incredible job at conquering the craft beer world. There are most certainly ethical questions clouding the brewery, but there are no such question marks over the quality of their beer. They’ve got a superb Russian Imperial Stout – Tsar Struck – which, at 9.1%, is a really stupid (but delicious) choice. Skip the shuffleboards downstairs, not because they aren’t brilliant fun, but because there’s no way you can still see.
Shuffledog, New York Road, LS2 7PF
Still with us? Well done. We’re almost through – there’s just time to grab another in one of Leeds’ most chilled-out bars, The Reli. I need something refreshing and hoppy after the last bar, so it’s Kirkstall Virtuous all the way. I tell anyone who’ll listen that it’s one of the best IPAs ever made; simple, citrussy and gluten free, it’s textbook. And at 4.5%, it’s also a bit of respite.
The Reliance, 76-78 North Street, LS2 7PN
So close to The Reliance it’s got the same postcode, it’s at The Brunswick where this crawl ends. What are we having? I don’t know – something beer shaped and glass coloured. Probably Cloudwater, maybe ToØl, definitely about 8% and certainly resulting in an overwhelming amount of pain the morning after.
The Brunswick, 82 North Street, LS2 7PN
Total distance: 1.39 miles. Average walking time: 25 mins / 2 mins per pub
If you’ve made it this far, you’re an official Confidentials champion. You have our respect, but please drink responsibly folks....