I had a nice wander around Leeds city centre yesterday with some friends. A few scoops, a bit of something to eat and some decent free music going on everywhere on account of the Live at Leeds weekend. That’s Live at leeds, as in The Who album and not something just for people who have an LS postcode.
On my travels I picked up a festival magazine for #LIF16 – Leeds Indie Food which runs from 12th to 30th May. So what’s that got to do with beer Rich? Well when you start to flick though the pages of the well designed and substantial A5 magazine you start to realise that it’s got a lot to do with beer, and food as well, obviously.
Before I go any further, I have to point out that I have nothing to do with the festival or any of the many businesses involved. The only reason I’m posting is because it looks interesting and I haven’t really got much else to write about as I’ve been (a) abroad and (b) tied up with some writing of a more academic nature.
Having said that, there are some parodies of the various arguments flying around vis a vis CAMRA’s revitalisation. You see it’s just not beer where people want variety, maybe a bit of novelty too, but above all Quality! Coffee might be coffee to some people, a take away meal might just be something to eat after a gallon of ale. Not here though, there really are some ground breaking quality food tasting events, across a wide spectrum of what can be termed food. I think there’s big lesson here around what people want these days, old or new, it’s got to be absolutely the best and same old same old won’t do. Not for Leeds anyway!
So, flicking through the magazine in The Brunswick (my current favourite bar in town) these were the beery highlights, amongst a whole stack of more foodie events. If you saw us in The Brunswick on Saturday avo, I was the man in the hat. The brown hat, not the blue hat and peacock waistcoat, who was an erudite gentleman from Far Headingley called Alastair who knows far more about beer than what I do.
It seems that the best idea is to buy a passport for ten sheets which gives cheaper or free access to many events, plus a whole host of discounts. The stand out ones being 20% off food and drink at Bundobust and 10% off at North Bar and their more traditionally pubby sister, the Cross Keys.
It seems sensible to go in chronological order, so the first event to interest (some) beer geeks kicks off at 7pm on Thursday 12th and is a collaboration between ice cream makers Northern bloc and the excellent Northern Monk brethren. The gig is at The Northern Monk Refectory down water lane way and costs £3. Presumably that’s just to get in to be able to sample some wacky combinations of beer ice cream floats?
On the same evening Tall Boys Beer Market are hosting the launch of ‘Paths That Cross: a collaborative Brewing Project’ in the elegant Thornton’s arcade. There’s not much more detail but some of the brewers involved make it sound quite interesting and it’s free.
Saturday 14th May is the North Bar Magical Mystery tour. Not much of a mystery, for a nicker shy of half a ton, you meet up at midday and get bussed to all of North Bar’s venues in the city and the latest one in nearby Harrogate. I’m not sure exactly what you get for your cash but from memory, last years tours went down well and there’s a couple of drinks provided at each venue. The week after there’s a later evening trip on Friday 20th.
On Tuesday 17th, May, thirty five quid gets you an evening in Bundobust with Tim Trainer from Founders Brewing Co, and six beers paired with Bundobust’s excellent Indian style street food. It says to expect some new food and rare beers. I reckon this is well worth a punt. Sadly on the same night there is a clash with the equally interesting sounding sommelier led beer tasting and food pairing evening at The Cross Keys for £30. Why do good things turn up all at once like buses?
I like the concept of the next one. Brian the brewer at Northern Monk is brewing beer from unsold bread and fruit and the chefs are cooking food from scratch with unbeknown ingredients intercepted from The Real Junk Food Project. It’s called ‘Pay as you Feel’ and all proceeds will go to a homelessness charity. I reckon it will be rammed, but still worth a look on Thursday 19th May from 7pm. All for a good cause and the issue of negligent food wastage is a very serious one.
On Friday 20th in the afternoon there’s a guided tour of interesting things around Holbeck Urban Village, including the bars and pubs for £15. If I’m honest you don’t need to pay to do this and I’ve covered most of the pubs in previous posts here. Having said that, if you’re from out of town it’s probably worth it. There are a couple more of these tours during the festival.
‘Keg Vs Cork’ happens on the weekend of the 20th & 21st. Again, it sounds interesting with a pop up bar at Sheaf Street Cafeteria from Northern Monk, Bundobust, North Bar and their North Brewing Co arm. There’s music, food and wine too and a drink-along film showing. It’s £7.50 to get in and another £10 for the films.
Thursday 26th sees the launch of the new ‘Leeds Beer Week’ at Northern Monk and you will get a free half if you turn up to find out what and when Leeds Beer Week will be. I’m looking forward to this one.
If you like Gueuze then Leeds Little Beer House are having a high quality Lambic tasting event on the same evening and that will cost you £25. Even if you don’t go to this event, if you’ve never been to Leeds before then a visit here and a look inside the unique Corn Exchange building is a must.
The Leeds feast is going to be a big event across three venues on 28th & 29th May. It’s free to get in at Belgrave MH, Headrow House and North Brewing Co where you’ll find an array of different types and styles of street food from around the world.
On top of this, North Bar are showcasing a shed full of London brewers for the entire festival. Think Kernel, Beavertown and the promise of some unknown rarities.
If you have a look at the festival magazine, there’s a Leeds pub crawl section. Some brilliant bars are included, the general theme of which suggests that ‘craft beer’ which may be ‘real ale’ is the focus of the beer side of things, rather than traditional ‘real ales’. If that puts you off a bit then it shouldn’t, turn up, have a look. Maybe you will be pleasantly surprised.