There’s good news and there’s good news.
North Brewing Co, maybe Leeds’s premier champion of beer, has now officially opened its new tap room.
What’s more, it couldn’t look more different from its flagship New Briggate site – and it already seems to be abuzz with trade on the Friday I visit.
It’s located on Sovereign Street near Leeds Station, and manages to fit in amongst the more suity locale.
Firstly, it’s a no-cash bar – so make sure to have your contactless on you – and the interior is the trendy faux-industrial type that abounds these days.
You simply can’t argue with the drinks list, though. Whereas the original North Bar boasts tipples from far and wide, the new venue seems to broadly be a vehicle for its own, or regionally-produced, beers.
More than 20 taps are offered, with a decent showing for collaborative creations too. There is a fridge-full of both North’s and others’ cans to choose from as well.
It also has wine, negroni and Aperol spritz – on tap.
Little Bao Boy, a Chinese fast food stall, is also the in-house eating option at the venue.
I’m nominally there to wait for a friend who’s arriving in an hour or so at Leeds Station, but I’ve had my eye on the opening for a week or two.
Choosing between what’s on offer is a toughy, though, particularly because so much of it sounds very distinctive, and not the sort of flavours you can just grin and bear until the next jar comes around.
I take a pint of North’s Piñata, a luminous mango and guava pale ale (4.5 per cent, £4.70). I’ve had this elsewhere, but I swear it didn’t taste anywhere near as surprisingly crisp and brilliantly sour as it did on this occasion. It has a remarkable taste, and was one I went back to later in the night, but if you’re after something quite plain, keep away.
Afterwards I had the brewery’s Kurious Oranj (surely a reference to The Fall track), a mandarin and orange zest IPA, which is served in a schooner (six per cent, £4). This sounds a lot like the last drink, but actually it’s far more ‘beery’ in flavour, and while not as exciting, it was not unwelcome either. It was then on to a pint of Herzog (five per cent, £4,70), a Kölsch style lager. Firstly brewed in Cologne, Kölsch beers are warm fermented with ale yeast, then conditioned at cold temperatures like a lager – an unusual process. So, yeah, it was nice.
I pledged to myself to next time try the Tiramisu Strongman, a 12.5 per cent barley wine from Huddersfield’s Magic Rock brewery. North Brewing Co only set up in 2015, founded by John Gyngell and Christian Townsley, those behind the original 1997 bar.
It’s come a long way in just three years.