THE absolute transformation which the Leeds drinking landscape has undergone in the past five years has been well chronicled in this column and beyond.
Anyone who remains unconvinced should join those already converted who will be heading to the Brewers Market at Canal Mills this weekend for an event packed with great food, live music and some of the very best which the brewing scene has to offer.
Let’s start with the geography. Canal Mills is an 18th century textile mill close to the Leeds-Liverpool Canal at the end of Brandon Street, which connects the waterside with Armley Road.
Work to bring this abandoned, dilapidated building back to life began in 2012, since when this high-ceilinged space of dramatic beams and exposed brickwork has played host to art exhibitions, performance, live music and corporate events. It is a fabulous use for a forgotten space which has been thankfully left largely unchanged, allowing its industrial character to shine through.
It makes an ideal home for the Brewers Market, which began last year as the collective brainchild of the creative minds behind Canal Mills and festivals such as the Leeds Garden Party, which has become a summer fixture on the local calendar.
The event begins tomorrow lunchtime and runs right through Saturday with a hedonistic smorgasbord of food, drink, and some of the city’s best artists. The list of breweries represented is sufficient in itself for me to recommend you to go along. They include Fourpure and Five Points from London; Americans Firestone Walker, Sierra Nevada and Odell; the Liverpool Craft Beer Company, Cloudwater from Manchester and the dazzlingly innovative Thornbridge from Derbyshire.
Which is, of course, to say nothing of the Yorkshire brewers which include Summerwine from Holmfirth, Magic Rock from Huddersfield, Roosters from Knaresborough and Kirkstall from, er, Kirkstall. Pop-up bars featuring favourite Leeds booze stores Tall Boys and Latitude and newcomers the Hedonist Whisky and Gin Project add further to the choice on offer.
But perhaps the signature beer of this year’s festival will be the MaiThaiIPA which is a collaboration between Holbeck’s Northern Monk Brewery and the folks from Canal Mills. Head Brewer Brian Dickson says his new brew is inspired by a Mai Thai cocktail: “It’s infused with Almond Syrup, Lime, Curacao Orange Peel and Cherry. The result reminded us of a Bakewell Tart if you’d infused the pastry with citrus fruit. There are big almond and cherry flavours up front followed by deep citrus led by the orange peel.
“It’s one for marzipan fans,” he adds. “ Unusual but it definitely works.”
Talking of which, there is a whole range of street food (I’m never sure what that means, but it just seems to imply disposable cutlery) from Holbeck’s Grub and Grog Shop from Holbeck, The Mac Shac, Manjit’s Kitchen, Pizza Fella, Sela Bar and more, while a list of live acts and DJs will provide the soundtrack for an event which promises to showcase everything great about Leeds, beer capital of the north.
Simon’s new book The Great Leeds Pub Crawl is an enjoyable romp around the best of the city’s licensed trade, with a series of themed pub crawls which take in everything from the most traditional boozer to the newest, hippest cocktail joint. Fully revised and updated from the 2011 edition, it’s available in local bookstores and through online retailers such as Amazon, priced at around £13.99.
Venue: Canal Mills, Brandon Street, Leeds, LS12 2EB
Hosts: Matt Long and Will France
Opening Hours: 2pm-1am Friday, 11am-4.30pm and 5pm-1am Saturday
Beers: Amazing selection of craft beers
Wine: Decent choice
Food: Vibrant selection of street food
Entertainment: Live music and DJs on both evenings
Children: Not suitable, over-18s only
Events: Areas available for private hire
Telephone: 0113 200 2780