Leeds '˜a capital' for new craft brewery trend

A boom in the popularity of small-scale breweries means Leeds has emerged as a capital of craft beer.

Monday, 3rd October 2016, 5:07 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 1:45 pm
Gregg Wallace shares a pint with Northern Monk Brewery founder Russell Bisset in Leeds, while launching the Leeds Food Month

Nationwide, new figures show, the number of breweries has risen eight per cent in the last year - and 65 per cent in the last five years. And with new breweries continuously opening in Leeds, experts say the city has become a centre of excellence for one of the country’s most booming industries.

“Beer has become fashionable and trendy in a way it wasn’t before,” said Simon Jenkins, Yorkshire Evening Post beer writer and member of the British Guild. “It’s become phenomenally popular. The price of a pint is important to people, but increasingly the quality is too.

“It’s seen across Yorkshire. Leeds certainly has become a capital of craft beer. The number of breweries has increased exponentially.”

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Simon Jenkins YEP blogger Tetley

There are now an estimated 1,700 breweries in the UK, the study by accountancy firm UHY Hacker Young has found.

Among them, Northern Monk which opened in Leeds two years ago. Founders say it’s popularity is great for Leeds as their success is shared with the city’s economy.

“It’s quite a cosmopolitan city,” said head brewer David Kerr. “For food, for drink, it’s an environment where people are starting to think more progressively. It’s exciting stuff.”

Rob Hepworth, assistant manager at Brewery Tap in Leeds, also said the rise in the number of micro-breweries in recent years has been massive.

Simon Jenkins YEP blogger Tetley

“People’s tastes have changed,” he said. “Over the last four or five years, what we would have considered small craft breweries are now the biggest in Yorkshire. They’ve grown massively over the past few years. Years ago, after the big financial crisis, people became more discerning about how they spent their money.

“People are drinking less. So they want to make sure that what they are having is really nice.”