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5 Up & Coming Leeds Breweries You Need to Know About

· Joseph Sheerin · Food and Drink

Take a look behind the scenes at the city’s most promising breweries.

Meanwood Brewery

Anthology, Meanwood, Crooked – discover the new breweries making a name for themselves by pushing the boundaries of what people expect from beer.

The city’s beer scene has exploded over the last few years. Northern Monk and North Brewing Co. have started a trend, inspiring a new generation of beer makers to take the leap and open their own brewery. But what can you expect from the new wave of brewers taking over Leeds and who’s behind the amber nectar that they produce? Let’s find out…

Anthology Brewing Company

Anthology Brewing Co.

Credit: Anthology Brewing Co.

Anthology Brewing Company has come a long way in a very short space of time. It was started in May 2018 by Liam Kane, an avid home brewer who began making beers when he was a student at Leeds College of Music. “It developed into an obsession and things went from there really. A big inspiration from the start was The Kernel in London, their approach towards rotating hop varieties, simple packaging, not providing too much in terms of tasting notes and just stating factual information on the beers was something I liked. It allows people to make up their own minds.”

Anthology specialises in small batch, hop-forward beers that change on a regular basis, so you always have something new to try. Liam’s most popular creations are the 3.8% New England Session Pale, the 5.0% Dry Hopped Pale and the 4.5% Session IPA, but he wants to experiment. Which is why you can dabble in unusual bevvies like his sharp and tangy 4.2% Sicilian Lemon Pale. He’s also recently collaborated with Yorkshire brewery Vocation on a Bread and Butter Imperial Stout.

It’s been a productive debut year, but Anthology’s first 12 months haven’t been all plain sailing – the dedication required to succeed has been difficult and his social life has taken a knock. It’s worth it though. You can now find his brews everywhere from Whitelock’s to The Brunswick and East of Arcadia. Or you can go straight to source one Saturday a month as Liam hosts a brewery taproom – this is your chance to try his latest and greatest creations. And with plans in the works to expand from the current 600 square foot Armley brewery, the future’s bright.

Meanwood Brewery

Meanwood Brewery

Credit: Jeremy Kelly

Meanwood Brewery is the story of two brothers, Baz and Graeme Phillips. They’re beer nuts who’ve spent years home brewing, but they only went full time in 2017. The brewery began life in their garage, but over the last two years, they’ve transformed a long-derelict building in the centre of Meanwood into their new base.

The secret to their success? Long hours and an unwavering determination to achieve excellence on a budget. The result is an eclectic beer list that takes you from the classic 5% Heroic English IPA to more adventurous creations like the 3.4% Exile, a blackberry crumble Berliner Weisse. “Our inspiration comes from a love of story and the huge variation that exists in beer styles,” Baz told us. “We brew styles from all over the world, old and new, and try to use the styles, names and art to tell a story.”

They’ve now added another string to their bow, in the form of the Terminus Tap Room and Bottle Shop, which is open from Wednesday to Sunday every week. It’s a cool little bar under the brewery that shows off the building’s exposed red bricks and Yorkshire stone. Here you can try all of their beers, as well as treats from other local brewers, and tuck into a menu of Middle Eastern-inspired eats. You can even book onto brewery tours or sign up for brew days where you can make your own beer. But this is just the start – the brothers want to open a larger distribution brewery and more tap rooms in the coming years, so keep your eyes peeled.

Horsforth Brewery

Horsforth Brewery

Credit: Mark Newton Photography

For owner Mark Costello, Horsforth Brewery is a long time coming. He started brewing at home 5 and a half years ago, but it wasn’t until 2017 that it became a priority. It’s now one of Leeds’ most popular new breweries and he’s gone from making beers in his garage to having his own brewery at the Park Centre in the heart of Horsforth. And although it’s still only his part-time job, he aims to make it one of the best new breweries in the city.

Mark’s flagship brew is a hoppy 4.5% Horsforth Pale Ale, but Horsforth Brewery offers more than just your conventional beers. “There aren’t many breweries in the country that brew some of the styles I brew,” Mark told us. “They’re not the typical hazy double dry hopped IPAs and pales that the trendy breweries brew, but they are excellent examples of styles that are massively popular, just not in this country – yet.”

Take the 5.0% Dunkelweisen, a South German dark wheat beer, and the 5.0% Rhubarb Saison, a Belgian farmhouse-style brew, as examples. So where can you try these weird and wonderful concoctions out? Horsforth establishments like The Malt Brewhouse, Granville’s and Once Upon a Vine are regular stockists, while bottle shops Beer Thirty and The Curious Hop have them to takeaway. Mark also opens the brewery up on the first Saturday of the month, so you can try his beers fresh from the tanks, and he has plans for more in the summer.

Nomadic Beers

Nomadic Beers

Nomadic Beers was born out of true passion. Dr Katie Marriott left behind a career in academia to follow her dream of making beer. She joined forces with experienced brewer Ross Nicholson to start the brewery in January 2017, which is named after their own city-hopping pasts. Although it’s now a regular fixture at bars like Wapentake, Whitelock’s and North Bar, it hasn’t been easy, as they’ve dealt with everything from cashflow problems in a difficult industry climate to getting to grips with owning a business.

Still, they have made great progress in a very short period of time. They’ve gone from making their beers at the Burley Street Brewhouse to their working from their own facility in Sheepscar, which means they can now make 32 casks per brew, four times a fortnight. Their core beers are the 3.8% Pale Ale, 4.8% Bandit American Pale Ale and the 4.4% Strider, a modern take on the classic British bitter. But they also make two new special beers every month, which range from treacle stouts to coffee IPAs. It’s this mix of classic favourites and innovative combinations that is making Nomadic stand out from the crowd – and if you don’t believe us, try it for yourself at their monthly Saturday tap room.

“We’re keen to champion traditional beers, but with a modern twist,” Katie explained. “We won’t be brewing sours and saisons, but what we do really well are pales, bitters and stouts. And although we focus on traditional, the modern twist is often adding further natural ingredients, for example treacle and ginger into one of our stouts, and lemon zest to one of our pales to create a lemon pale.”

Crooked Brewing Ltd.

Crooked Brewing Ltd.

Steve Dawson and Andrew Evans have spent the past five years teaching people how to make beer at their Learn to Brew workshops, but when their students started opening their own breweries, they decided to practice what they preached. So in 2017, they teamed up with York businessmen Mark Field-Gibson and Hudson Aschmann to set up Crooked Brewing Ltd. They took over the old RAF base in Church Fenton and brewed their first beer – the 4.5% Calaboose American pale ale.

“We’ve now got a much wider range,” Steve told us. “There’s the obvious hoppy APAs like The Lash, a full-on punchy mix of Citra and Nelson Sauvin hops at 4.4%. ‘On T’Way’, brewed with our good friends at the Wapentake, is a really elegant 5.0% beer showcasing Amarillo hops at their finest. We’ve made a hoppy, nutty 4.0% red ale called Rufus and a sweet spicy amber Christmas brew made with with caramel malts and Belgian Candi sugar. It’s a 6.2% amber Belgian – we thought De Bruyne would get us into trouble so we called it Kevin.”

It’s still early days for Crooked – three of the owners still have full-time jobs and all four have very understanding partners as they try to navigate the strong beer market around Leeds. But they’ve made their mark already, helped by their beer tastings and tap takeovers at places like The Woods, Wapentake and Terminus Tap Room. They’ve already opened their first bar, The Crooked Tap at Acomb, where you can try their latest creations. And if you like what you taste, you can still book onto one of their do it yourself workshops and follow their path.

Cover image credit Jeremy Kelly.