City Buzz: 12,000 people expected at Leeds’ biggest beer festival

Leeds International Beer Festival is back at Leeds Town Hall. Picture by James Hardisty.
Leeds International Beer Festival is back at Leeds Town Hall. Picture by James Hardisty.
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Thousands of people have flocked to Leeds Town Hall for creative cocktail competitions, gin experiences and wine festivals so far this year. But now it’s time for beer to take the limelight.

The Leeds International Beer Festival is back with a bang from September 3 to 6, and is set to be bigger and better than ever.

The impressive turnout last year saw 9,000 people attend, but this figure is expected soar to 12,000 this year.

Now in its fourth year, the festival (which is one of the largest independent beer festivals in the UK) will showcase hundreds of national and international beers and will include ‘meet the brewer’ sessions, three live music stages, DJ sets, a street food market and retro games.

Speaking to City Buzz about the event, organiser John Kelly from Kirkstall Brewery said: “The festival has been growing exponentially every year.

“We’ll have well over 100 brewers this year, and they are all beers that we enjoy.

“There isn’t a beer on there that we wouldn’t order ourselves.”

If you’re a bit of a beer novice and are worried you’ll be shown up, you needn’t be.

As well as having that fun festival atmosphere, it’s also a chance to learn about the industry.

John added: “It’s not just for people who know their beer.

“We haven’t tried to be deliberately esoteric.

“There genuinely is something for everyone.”

Leeds is home to some great breweries, and the size of this year’s festival reflects the growing demand from punters for something more refined than a watery pint down the pub.

“West Yorkshire is very well respected in the industry,” John explains.

“We have more breweries in Yorkshire than anywhere else the UK. There are over 100.”

That’s quite an achievement, and is yet another string to add the region’s bow.

One of the highlights of the festival this year will be the Crackerjack BBQ Feast at Leeds Town Hall’s creepy old police Victorian cells.

The rather unusual dining experience is hosted by BBQ expert Andy Annat, who is three times UK BBQ Champion and World championship finalist and has travelled around the world to teach and preach the ways of the humble barbecue.

Each course will be matched with different beers (naturally) and dishes include spit roast lamb shoulder, hickory smoked pulled pork and Korean-style beef short ribs.

Tickets to this part of the festival cost £50, which include beer, food and entry to the festival.

If you’re not willing to splash that much cash though, the ticket prices for the main beer festival are the same as last year, at just £7, which includes a commemorative glass, programme guide and access to the entire festival site.

Other events will be held at bars across the city in the run-up to the festival, with tap takeovers at venues like Bundobust, The Social and North Bar.

This year’s previous drink-based festivals have proved to be the toast of the town, and with so much going on for the Leeds International Beer Festival, we’re sure this one will be a big hit too.

For details, visit www.leedsbeer.com or follow the event on Twitter @LeedsBeer.

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