Bar review: Brewery Tap, Leeds

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Brewery Tap was before its time, wasn’t it? It seems to have been a fixture of Leeds for ages and yet if memory serves it opened in 2008.

Today is stands at the very heart of what you might quite legitimately call the ‘beer quarter’, given the number of real ale establishments around about. Heck, even the deli’ next door is selling bottled real ale. But whatever the competition is up to, it was there first.

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One thing that always gets me about this place is its location: on the bend down a back street between the station and Boar Lane. It really shouldn’t work but it does and is quite clearly still very popular. It is what one might call a real real ale pub.

Owned by Leeds Brewery, it showcases a dizzying range of ales, together with their stock brands, Leeds Pale, Yorkshire Gold and Best and so on. Staff are friendly and knowledgeable about their products and they will gladly talk you through the ales they have on offer and how they might endear themselves to you.

So, what did I drink? Well, I sampled a few different brews, actually (which is surely the point of such a bar).

First on my list was a bottle of Modelo £3.90: light, sharp, snapping at your tongue on the way down, this is as refreshing as it is reliable. It’s a well established, balanced, quality pilsner that never disappoints and, if you’re wanting a break from the sometimes overwhelming ‘hoppyness’ of modern ales, this is always a decent choice. In this case, however, I used it by way of a ‘starter’ to what was to come.

Next on my list was Founders Rabaeus (£6.40), a leap into the dark for me as I normally steer well clear of fruit-flavoured drinks (and that decision was only reinforced here, as we will see). This is a raspberry ale with so much aroma that it reminded me of the time Hooch first became popular as an alcohol drink some 20-odd years ago. It’s sickly sweet even before it hits your lips. Seriously, all power to those who like this sort of stuff but it’s not my cup-of-tea and after a few mouthfuls, sadly I had to abandon it.

The Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (£5.60) was far more exciting. Light, very drinkable, engrossing, lightly carbonated, with strong but not overpowering floral tones that linger on the tongue just long enough to make you want another sip. It’s sessionable but only if you’ve got a bottomless wallet.

My final tipple was Cannonball (£5.60): my final (and favourite) tipple, an IPA from the Huddersfield-based Magic Rock brewery, which came in a can, as many real ales now do. It’s deceptively strong at 7.4 per cent and packs a citrusy punch. What a great way to spend part of an afternoon. Hat’s off to Brewery Tap for that simple joy.

My only slight niggle is, despite its obvious dedication to the cause, the interior can feel a little bit too sparse and dare I say cold and while most certainly a pure-bred, it’s possibly too niche for some.

Brewery Tap

New Station St, Leeds LS1 5DL

Scores: 4/5

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