Six of the Best: Real ale pubs in Leeds

While this list is by no means exhaustive, we're happy share with you a selection of half a dozen pubs and restaurants which specialise in real ale.Report by Neil Hudson
Briony Rose, 25, bar supervisor at Head Of Steam.Briony Rose, 25, bar supervisor at Head Of Steam.
Briony Rose, 25, bar supervisor at Head Of Steam.


When we reviewed Whitelocks during its tricentennial year (2015 - yes, it really is older than America, which only gained independence in 1776), we described this Leeds institution as “a Victorian drinking palace of polished brass and copper, gleaming mirrors, sculpted tiles and delicious atmosphere.”

“We are proud custodians of this place,” says owner Ed Mason, who first drank here as a teenager in 1989 while a student at the University of Leeds. “Even at 18 I was a fan of real ale.”

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Beers: Kirkstall Pale (£3.70), Theakston’s Old Peculier (£4.10), Pilsner Urquell (£4.60).


In spite of its olde worlde appearance, there’s nary a word of complaint from the customers who visit this piece of living history. Tucked away right in the heart of the city, this Sam Smith’s pub has roots which run deep. So deep in fact that when you come to pay for a round of drinks and find you’ve still got change from a tenner, you’ll think you’ve somehow travelled back in time. You haven’t. It’s just that Sam Smith’s do pubs their own way and that means no TVs, no branded products and pubs the way they used to be. You’ll still have change from £2 after a pint of ‘Taddy’.


Is it a restaurant which serves craft beer or a craft beer pub which happens to serve some of the best food going?

Either way, Bundobust has made a real reputation for itself when it comes to the Leeds dining scene. It specialises in serving top quality crafted beer and matching them to some of the best Indian street food you’re likely to find this side of Calcutta.

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The decor is rough and ready, the table might be made from chipboard but the fare is outstanding. Try their Coriander Pilsner 4.7%, at £4.20 a pint or Boon Oude Geuze 6.5%, at £7.80 for 375ml.


Lovingly described as an “American-style brew pub”, this fine establishment serves 27 draft beers, including 13 cask ales and 14 craft keg beers. It has over 100 bottled beers from around the world. And as if that wasn’t enough, they make their own pizzas on site.

It’ a veritable phone book of a bottled list. Try their 3 Fontienen Oude Geuze, 6.0% at £14.50 for 375ml, or Kasteel Tripel, Belgian Tripel Beer 11.0% and £6.30 for 330ml.

If you like your beer, you will also notice that time somehow slows down while you’re inside and it’ll be later than you think.

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g unusual draft beers from, for instance, America’s Left Hand Brewing or Italy’s Birra del Borgo, beer geeks will be in heaven. On top of all that, Tapped also brews several beers on site. A gleaming brew kit runs along one wall and the beers are served fresh and unfiltered from huge bar-side tanks. Weisse Weisse Baby – a wheat beer whose typical banana, lemon, pepper and coriander flavours had been given a hugely refreshing, thirst-quenching lick, thanks to an unusually generous dose of Saaz and Perle hops – was very good, as was Tapped’s caramel-bodied, briskly hoppy, US-style session pale, Rodeo. Incidentally, if prizes were awarded for witty beer names, Tapped (Magnum PA, Downtown Abbaye, Normal Lager and more) would sweep the board.

• Pint from £3.10. 51 Boar Lane, 0113 244 1953,


Since opening in the autumn of 2014, it has put itself firmly on the Leeds real ale map.

It sits about 15 minutes walk from the train station in a former flax mill, serving sessionable beers to make you want to stay all day. Etched glass gives visitors a view onto the gleaming steel vessels of the brewhouse before they climb the iron staircase to the ‘Grub and Grog’.

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True North, 3.7%, is described as having “crisp bitterness over a full, golden body.” Or there’s the potent Dark Arches, 6.7%, a black IPA honouring Holbeck’s industrial architecture.


A host of quality beers, decent food and a great atmosphere but with a strong emphasis on craft beer and a bewildering range of bottles.

The Leeds branch can boast an impressive 30 keg beers and cask ales and (wait for it...) 180 bottled beers from around the world.

They even serve in two-thirds and third-of-a-pint measures, which makes trying more of their products even easier, although you’d struggle to get through them all in one sitting.

With regular jazz and blues nights, they even offer discounts for CAMRA members.

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