The Tetley: I toured the new pub in Leeds that is championing Yorkshire beer after Kirkstall Brewery takeover

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A renowned building in Leeds is open once again as a Leeds-favourite brewery takes over.

Kirkstall Brewery announced its decision to take on the lease of The Tetley, on Hunslet Road, on March 15.

The building was formerly home to Tetley Brewery, but became a prominent site for arts and culture in Leeds in recent years. The takeover comes after the art gallery announced its departure in September 2023, as its 10-year lease came to an end.

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Kirkstall Brewery, which has six pubs across Leeds including Cardigan Arms in Kirkstall, said it hopes the Tetley will be a  “showcase of the very best brewing in Leeds”.

Chris Hall, brand manager of Kirkstall Brewery, said: “We want The Tetley to return to its status of being an icon in the Yorkshire beer scene.

“And for us, it means celebrating not just the things we are proud of doing at Kirkstall Brewery but what we are proud of our industry colleagues for doing as well.

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“There is an amazing variety of beer in Yorkshire, probably more varied than it ever has been in many ways, so alongside all the beers you may expect to see from Kirkstall Brewery and brands like Leeds Brewery and North, which we acquired in the past few years, you can expect to see some really good beers from our friends at Northern Monk and some other breweries as well. 

“It’s going to be an offering that continues to evolve to what customers are really excited about. It’s not just about us, but about beers in Yorkshire.”

On April 26, drinks began flowing once again in The Tetley as Kirkstall Brewery’s owner Steve Holt’s “dream venue” opened to the public.

It was an “irresistible” project, Chris said. He added: “A lot of people obviously know The Tetley as ‘the beer’ in Leeds.

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“I think based on Kirkstall Brewery’s appreciation and love of just not beers and brewing, that line going back in history of all the people that have influenced us, The Tetley was an irresistible option when it became available. It felt like coming home to something that we already knew very well.”

The Grade II-listed building is in fantastic condition and Chris said renovations didn’t take too long as the venue was fit with a great kitchen and bar already.

I am told the chalkboard at the door listing the opening hours was in use when the venue was still a brewery. It is one of many things repurposed and brought up from the archives underground.

Some of the decor - like Joshua Tetley and Son signs - have been used to keep the “one of Leeds’ oldest brewing dynasties” alive, even after the takeover. Architectural drawings that are made by hand and watercolour painted from the 1930s have been framed too.

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About 95% of the decor is memorabilia from Steve’s own collection - which he calls his ‘brewseum’ - that he is has been building for more than forty years.

Iconic pieces from other breweries in Leeds and pictures and paintings of brewers and owners are also in surplus at the venue.

“Our founder, Steve, is such an archivist and historian of brewery artefacts,” Chris said.

And being able to parts of history from all the “amazing breweries who have defined beer culture” in Leeds through the artefacts has been a wonderful experience for the brewery.

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Chris tells me that while Kirkstall Bridge Inn, located on the edge of the River Aire, is a popular spot for drinkers in the summer and Cardigan Arms is ideal for drinks in the winter, the Tetley is perfect for all seasons.

The large pub features space with comfortable sofas for people wanting a pint and a separate spacious seating area for a meal. A private dining room is available too.

And it is easy to see how popular the venue will be once developments in Aire Park are complete.

Owned by Vastint UK, Aire Park will soon be home to six new buildings on the corner of Crown Point Road and Bowman Lane. A total of 421 build-to-rent homes will provide a mixture of studio, one, two and three-bedroom apartments.

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Vastint UK also have plans to create 20,000 sq ft of leisure space, earmarked for cafes, restaurants and cultural activities, and a new 500-space multi storey car park - all of which should complement The Tetley and boost footfall in South Bank.

While the priority is to nurture the growth of the pub on the ground floor, plans to use the remaining space are not off-limits, Chris said. Much can be done upstairs, including food and drink events and music shows, and I am excited to see how the Tetley develops.

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