Almost 190 years of industrial production at the Tetley Brewery helped to cement Leeds as an ale brewing heavyweight famed for its Huntsman trademark.
But after the taps ran dry and the brewery closed its doors in 2011, the downfall of the Tetley name left a bitter taste in the mouth for the hundreds of loyal staff who were made redundant from the long-serving Leeds institution.
The brewery, which was and still is, owned by Danish brewing giant Carlsberg, has been almost entirely demolished since the closure. Now all that remains are memories, a handful of brewery buildings, a recently-opened green space, a car park and beer brewed the Tetley way, albeit in a different part of the country.
One source of happy memories still very much alive and well on the site is the Tetley Headquarters building. The architectural centre-piece south of the city centre has become a contemporary art gallery, educational space, bar and kitchen thanks to Carlsberg and a partnership with arts charity Project Space Leeds.
Its ground floor bar and kitchen has become a homage to the historic brewery with a modern edge – still selling cask Tetley ale and displaying old memorabilia but in an extended minimalist space.
The bar is the perfect mix between old and new, paying tribute to the site’s industrial past. Walking through the building’s wrought iron-gated entrance and through a charming revolving wooden door, you enter a clear and uncluttered central space that has a triple-height central atrium opened up through recent renovation.
Tactile grey concrete flooring and a punctured panelled metal ceiling encases the single-storey bar space, which is littered with heritage wooden furniture topped with aged patterned fabrics and brewery trinkets such as old plaques and flags unearthed from the brewery archive, adding character to the blank-canvas walls.
A glass display helps acts as a separator while showcasing heritage Tetley bottles. The bar and kitchen area is lit from above with warm glowing, simple spherical fittings, while its neutral walls and flooring, modern minimalist bar, straight lines and cold cut edges balance brilliantly with period features and hearty mementos from the past.
Low key modern indie pop adds another element that turns this bar from a brewery museum into a welcoming bar and expansive beer garden for all ages.
The bar’s array of handpumps dispensing Tetley Gold, Tetley Cask, lagers such as Carlsberg, Mahou and San Miguel as well as Somersby cider seemingly attract both ends of the market. There are dozens more beers and ciders in the fridges. There are however no cocktails.
We went for pints of Tetley Gold and Somersby cider before indulging in a pair of Southern Comfort and cokes. The bill came to just over £14.
Tetley Bar and Kitchen has certainly added something new to the city’s bar scene.
The headquarters building has been transformed, and thankfully its roots are still well intact and open to view. There are not many bars with as much history or prominence in Leeds that appeal to such a broad span of people. The brewing of Tetley ales may have moved but its history and affinity with its home city is still alive and well thanks to this renovated slice of Leeds’s heritage that pays its respects to the past.