Bar review: The Brunswick, North Street, Leeds

There was a time when being situated on the east side of town, beyond the inner ring road and heading out towards Regent Street and the Playhouse and so on, would have been a death knell for any business but not so today.

Leeds seems to be the evergreen city in that it is always expanding. This area in particular has also benefited from its location to Leeds Grand Theatre, about to mark its 140th anniversary on November 18, and Leeds First Direct Arena. One road which seems to be leading the way in terms of enticing people to venture beyond the usual haunts is North Street, where you will find the likes of Brewdog and The Reliance and if that doesn’t ring bells for you, then the ever excellent Belgrave is a glance away. But it’s relative newcomer The Brunswick which has drawn our attention on this occasion. We’ve heard good things about this artsy, food and beer retreat and can happily report it’s worth the extra step count.

The ground floor bar is long and narrow but manages to cram a fair bit in, sporting a retro-kitsch display above the main serving area, below which you will find offerings from Ilkley and Kirkstall breweries on tap but a sumptuous array of other craft ales, including many local tipples, including Brunswick Pale at 4.5 per cent and £5 a pint, which is made for them by Ilkley Brewery and seems the obvious thing to try. It’s a fruity, zesty number with more of a kick than you might expect from a 4.5 per center and there’s a grapefruity finish which lingers alluringly.

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The bar is no frills, with bare wooden tables and a minimalistic look to the rest of the palce, which is no bad thing. Leading off the main seating area is a narrow staircase which climbs steeply up, revealing more rooms above and at least three flights before we eventually reach what is an art gallery. As we arrive, artist Laura Angell is busy setting up a series of pictures, which she describes as ‘anti-porn’, a kind of missive to the endless tirade of commercialised pornography (think Game of Thrones and your average hi-end perfume ad) which has become the norm.

They do brunch and Sunday lunch (better to book ahead for that, apparently), for those who want food but I’m guessing it’s the ale which will draw you here. They have nine keg lines and five cask ales. When we visited, there was Boundary Brewery’s You’re Not Getting Any, an imperial oatmeal milk stout with blueberries, at a head-thumping 9.9 per cent and coming in at £10 a pint (£5 for a half). Others included Fourpure’s Altitude Extra Pale Ale (4.9 per cent), at £7 a pint, a marshmallow stout at 7.5 per cent and £7.60 a pint from Ilkley. Overall, it’s a welcoming experience and would make a pre-theatre/town pub crawl stop off.