You’ve got to be very careful saying things like, ‘the latest addition to the Leeds beer scene’, that or very quick.
Growlers on Otley Road in Headingley, which opened at the end of August is the latest venture from entrepreneur Alison White, who’s portfolio includes café bar White’s, and Craft Beer cum Curry house, The Cats Pyjamas, which are both on the same parade, with the latter now also on Eastgate in the city centre. I’ve been in all three and they are all very good examples of what they are meant to be.
At the minute Growlers are an off-licence only, but from this weekend (Fri 3rd & Sat 4th November) you’ll be able to go in and have a drink inside the premises. This will be repeated every weekend for the next six weeks, and hopefully they will be able to get a full on-licence after this trial period. Come on Leeds City Council and the good people of Headingley, you know it makes sense.
Inside it’s quite minimalistic with the bottle/can fridges down one side and the bar taking up most of the other long wall. There’s a nice comfy sofa upon which to take your ease and a suitable table onto which you can repose your drink, once they’re fully up and running. Everything is nicely done and someone’s put some real thought into the venture. You could even pick up a locally made Brownie to go with your beer, or a pumpkin beer from a Halloween styled display. I’m afraid October in New York and several (otherwise decent) brewpubs put me off pumpkin beer for life, a good few years ago.
I chatted with Harry Reynold’s, the manager. Originally from Halifax, he came to Leeds six years ago and he’s never been back. Initially he worked at Cats PJ’s before spending some time in Oz. When he returned to the UK he asked for his old job back, but they gave him this one instead. He reckons it’s better than being a Primary school teacher, which is what he trained to do!
I asked Harry what the USP was, surely it’s just another bottle shop? His retort to this was quite comprehensive, so here goes:
Firstly, ALL the cans and bottles on sale are CHILLED and ready to drink, in a long bank of illuminated, shiny fridges, a bit like the refrigerated aisle in Morrison’s, but better. They’ve gone for a broad range with something for everyone, rather than a specialised range focussing on one area. Having said that, they do try and get all the ‘well known’ Limited Edition releases on their shelves.
It’s not a place for the more traditional drinker, everything here is cutting edge, mainly from British, American and antipodean brewers, with some European brews thrown in for good measure; some people would call it Craft Beer, I prefer to just call it beer. There’s only two sorts of beer to my mind; good (and better) and bad. I thought everything in the chiller cabinets here fell into the good to excellent category.
You can have a look what they have got online, I think most people will be quite pleased with what they see? If you click on what you like, they’ll even deliver! I thought the prices pretty reasonable. You can also get Yorkshire Gins, Whiskey’s and wines as well; the range isn’t massive, but the emphasis is firmly on quality.
The other focus is the Growler filling station. I’ll put my hands up here. This isn’t really my thing, paying £6 for a big jug and then getting it filled and taking it home. I’d rather go to the pub, but like I always say, different isn’t wrong.
The Growlers Growlers are 64oz or 1.89L in size. There’s a choice of four beers, and the PEGAS filling station means no frothing (= no mess), no spillage (= full measure), and no air (= no oxygen) gets in your beer, so it will stay fresh for up to two months unopened. I asked Harry how long it stayed fresh once you’d opened the top? Harry said, about as long as a bottle of pop. Much as I thought, if you don’t consume it in one sitting, you’ll be supping flat beer the day after.
On my visit they had; Thornbridge Kipling at £13.50 a fill, North Brewing Sputnik at £14.80, Wild Beer Millionaire, £14.10, and Lervig Hazy Days APA at £20.30. If they’d had the on-licence, I would have been into the last three like a shot, just a half of each mind. Maybe there is something about this Growler thing after all? Like when did you last see all three of these on the bar at the same time, in the same place? Thornbridge? Good brewers, but I don’t go head over heels for them these days, myself.
So there you have it. A brand new bottle shop and Growler station in the middle of Headingley. Looking forward, as well as the trial on-sales, they plan to have regular MTB and tap takeover events. The Growler’s Facebook page has full details of all future events, plus all the new beers, which are coming in all the time.
Ghost Brewing are in the shop on Friday 3rd November (that’s this Friday!) from 7pm with free samples of their latest beer and the Northern Monk team will be in the shop showcasing their beers on the evening of Friday 17th November. I reckon both will be cracking events, get yourself down and see what you think of Growlers for yourselves.