Bar review: Terminus, Meanwood, Leeds

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IN recent years Meanwood has built a strong case for boasting the best drinking suburban scene in the entire city.

From a standing start just a few years ago, the opening of Alfred and East of Arcadia catalysed the development of a bar crawl which now boasts five diverse venues in less than 100 metres, two with their own brewery.

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Saturday evening afforded me a first opportunity to visit Terminus, the bar and bottle shop which opened in November in an unpromising alleyway close to where Stonegate Road meets Meanwood Road. It is the brainchild of the extravagantly bearded Baz and Graeme Phillips, the brothers behind Meanwood Brewery, who started their business brewing in their garage before decanting the operation into the rather ramshackle set of buildings which were once home to the local tram terminus.

The transformation has been remarkable, effecting from this unpromising space a two storey bar with three quite distinct rooms – plus a spacious decking area whose privacy and seclusion makes up for its lack of a view.

Stepping inside you enter the pocket-handkerchief main room which is dominated by a long bar counter topped by four real ale handpulls and ten keg beer fonts. Blackboards chronicle the changing choice, which on this occasion features ales from some of Yorkshire’s smaller hard-to-find breweries, the likes of Nightjar, Nomadic and Eyes. Perhaps I’m not looking hard enough, but the brothers’ brewery is distinguished by its absence among this company; even so, all the curvy glassware bears the Meanwood motif.

But I’m quickly drawn towards Beaucoup Weisse from Zapato, an innovative craft brewery which has recently moved into its own premises near Huddersfield after some time “cuckoo brewing” on other people’s kit. This cloudy pink raspberry and blackberry accented ale showcases the talents of brewer Matt Gorecki in sharp and refreshing style. I also try the Bleep IPA from Wishbone Brewery in Keighley, this time a cloudy yellow ale whose firm piney bitterness is doubtless the product of some substantial weight of hops which have been discharged into the mash tun.

But before we can make true acquaintance with these regional delights, we need to find somewhere to enjoy them. This initial room is full, but a sign points the way to further seating upstairs, where an eclectic mix of furniture and artwork rather feels as though it has been thrown together from material picked up at a junk store or car boot sale.

Perhaps a charity shop has furnished the chunky bookshelves, where Dickens sits cheek-by-jowl with Dr Who, history books with rock biographies. This taste for recycling the apparently obsolete extends to the decor, which harnesses bare brick and stone, floorboards and scaffold poles into a quirky sociable space which rapidly fills as our evening progresses. Dogs are welcome too – at one point a gentle collie befriends an excitable whippet, while downstairs a golden retriever sleeps oblivious to the constant thrum of conversation all around.

That this place is thriving, that Hungry Bear’s beers continue to excite and surprise – and that those two originals, Alfred and East, continue to do good business – suggest that Terminus will not be the end of the line for Meanwood’s burgeoning bar culture.

FACTFILE

Stonegate Road, Meanwood, LS6 4HZ

Type: On-trend craft and real ale bar and brewery

Opening Hours: Noon-midnight Wednesday-Saturday; noon-10pm Sunday; closed Monday-Tuesday

Beers: The bar serves a fabulous changing choice of 10 draught craft keg beers plus four handpulled cask ales

Wine: Small selection

Food: None

Children: High chairs are available upstairs

Disabled: Slightly tricky access – and the bar is on two levels.

Entertainment: Choice of board games available

Beer Garden: Large enclosed decking area to the front

Parking: On-street areas nearby

Website: themeanwoodbrewery.com/

Email: baz@themeanwoodbrewery.com

Phone: 0113 318 5821