Salt Beer Factory has only been open for a matter of weeks, but it’s already responsible for Craft Asylum, two brand new craft beer bars in Leeds city centre.
The folk behind Ossett Brewery have just opened Salt Beer Factory, a brand new brewery in Saltaire. They’ve transformed a Grade-II listed Edwardian tramshed into a 20-hectolitre complex with a brewery tap where you can try their latest brews. But that’s not the only place to get them, because they’ve also opened two new bars in Leeds city centre. Craft Asylum #1 is open now on Granary Wharf, and it’ll be followed by Craft Asylum #2 on East Parade at the end of November.
Salt has been a long time coming, as owner Jamie Lawson told us, “We have this space at the back of The Hop bar in Saltaire just short of 5,000 square foot that’s been basically empty for about five years. After casual conversations with a number of people in the company, we decided ‘let’s stick to what we know and put a brewery in it’. It gave us the opportunity to start from scratch, a blank canvas, with a brand new brewery and it’s capable of brewing modern styles of beers – hop-forward IPAs and lagers.”
Each beer is inspired by the village of Saltaire, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was built by Titus Salt for the workers in his textile factories. Their Session IPA is called Jute, a natural fibre, and it comes in at a steady 4.2%. The fragrant New Zealand Pale Ale, Batik, is just as good, this one has been named after a dyeing technique and it stands at 5.2%. But don’t overlook their standard IPA – the name Alpaca speaks for itself, and it’s the strongest of their permanent beers at 6.6%. Each one is made in a particular way to create a particular style – they’re unpasteurised and unfiltered, so expect a cloudy beer complete with protein and hop particles to get that fuller flavour.
The beers are made in huge tanks, which surround the taproom. This is the life and soul of the complex, which opens to the public from Thursday to Sunday every week. Head to the bar to try Salt’s beers fresh from the tanks – they have directional signs, so you can follow your beer around the venue, moving from the start all the way to the copper dispense tanks that overhang the bar. It’s more than just a taproom, though – they have a stage for live music and comedy, which takes place every Thursday night. They’ve even got a DJ booth, gift shop and a wood-fired pizza oven to soak up those brews.
You don’t have to visit Saltaire to try their beer though – they’re bringing them to Leeds, with two new bars in the city centre. The first, Craft Asylum #1, is already open, and it’s taken the place of the former Candlebar on Granary Wharf. Expect a laid-back venue filled with exposed brickwork, industrial-style fixtures and hexagonal patterns inspired by the Salt Beer Factory logo.
The copper-topped bar promises 14 keg taps at any one time and half of them will be dedicated to brews from Salt, whether it’s their easy-going Jute or one of the exciting collaborations they have in the pipeline for the New Year. The other seven taps will be given to a rotating line-up of guest breweries that will change every week – we’re talking Cloudwater from Manchester, Magic Rock from Huddersfield, Thornbridge Brewery from Derbyshire and Abyss Brewing from Brighton. You can even choose from four taps of cask ale which will regularly too.
If you’re wondering where to start, owner Jamie Lawson has a few top tips, “If you’re a lager drinker, I would try our Salt Session Lager as an introductory beer into craft, that’s perfect for a mainstream lager drinker. For the beer connoisseur, I would go for the Ikat which is our double IPA at 8%. It’s something special in terms of an 8% beer, a lot of fruity hop notes come through without being overpowered by alcohol.”
It’s not all beer, beer, beer, though. If you fancy something different, they’ve paid the same attention to their gin offering, scouring the length and breadth of the UK to find the best and most unusual labels on the market. Take the Wrecking Coast’s Cornish Clotted Gin for example, it’s made using cold-distilled clotted cream, and the That boutique-y Gin Company’s Spit Roasted Pineapple brings a fruity kick to proceedings.
You can also work your way through a selection of Bourbon, as well as Japanese and Scottish whiskeys, or take a look at their hand-picked wine list. They have a small cocktail menu that brings classics like the Negroni together with creative concoctions like the Storm of the Kraken, which couples Kraken rum with London Essence ginger beer and lime. They even have non-drinkers covered, as they’ve sourced quality coffee from Dark Woods in Huddersfield.
Craft Asylum #2 will open on Friday 30th November 2018. It’s a completely new venue at 26 East Parade, just a few metres from Greek Street. This one will have the same style cues as its Granary Wharf sibling, with the same range of Salt Beer Factory beers, but their guest range will be different, giving you the perfect excuse to visit both.
It’s something different for an area that’s coming into its own again, and that’s why they chose the venue. “Greek Street has become a fantastic destination for drinkers, it’s recently had a lot of investment in to the area but while Greek Street is a fantastic place, most of the bars are cocktail bars,” Jamie told us. “As a beer drinker myself, when I find myself taken to Greek Street, there’s nothing for me in terms of a drink I’d enjoy. For me, there was a real potential to put a bar in that area that will focus on proper beer for craft beer drinkers.”
So there you have it, Yorkshire’s gained a brand new brewery, a place where you can try new beers almost as soon as they’re finished. And as a result, Leeds has gained two brand new bars, both of which are giving craft beer lovers a new place to discover their next favourite brew.
Craft Asylum #1, Candle House, Granary Wharf, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4GJ & Craft Asylum #2, 26 East Parade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 5BW. It’s open 4pm to late Monday to Thursday, 12pm to late Friday to Sunday.