Tetley beer is once again being brewed in Leeds after a historic deal sees this British drinking favourite return to its home city after more than six years.
The beer is being made at Leeds Brewery, which was founded in 2007 and became the city’s biggest brewer when the giant Tetley plant closed in 2011. Now a partnership with Tetley’s parent company Carlsberg, will see these former rivals collaborate to bring Tetley beers back to its traditional heartland.
While production of the flagship Tetley Bitter will continue to be concentrated at Banks’s Brewery in Wolverhampton, Leeds Brewery will focus on producing a range of Tetley beers based on recipes from the company archives. The first, No.3 Pale Ale, recreates a recipe from 1868 – and uses the same unique double strain of yeast which has given distinctive taste and texture to Tetley’s beers since founder Joshua Tetley first opened the Hunslet brewery in 1822.
“Recreating this beer has been a really interesting process,” says Leeds Brewery boss Sam Moss. “It was a challenge our brew team was delighted to accept. Head brewer Venkatesh Iyer has used the same traditional Kent hops as in the original and we’re thrilled with the quality and flavour of the beer and with how faithful we’ve managed to remain to the original recipe.
“The Tetley yeast gives it a distinctive character that you could identify with your eyes shut.
“At a time when many breweries seem to be creating weird and wonderful ales, traditional English beers like this can easily get forgotten.”
The West Yorkshire Archive in Bradford holds a wealth of material on Tetley’s, including the recipe for every beer they ever brewed. And while Tetley Brand Manager Emily Hudson shrugs off the suggestion that Carlsberg has overlooked this remarkable legacy over the years, she hopes this new initiative will help re-invigorate the Tetley name.
“We recognise the affection and support for Tetley’s that still lives on across the country, particularly in Yorkshire. We felt this was a fantastic opportunity to team up with one of the region’s leading brewers to recreate the recipe within a mile of where it was originally brewed 150 years ago.”
Moss admits that he and his Leeds Brewery colleagues “thought long and hard” about accepting the offer to brew the Tetley beers. But ultimately “the exciting opportunity to play around with the Tetley archive” proved too good to resist.
“It’s great that we can do this,” he says. “But it’s going to be a small part of our business – and we will still focus on our own beers like Leeds Pale and Midnight Bell which have gained a great following in the city since Tetley’s closed down.” That these Leeds Brewery brands will now be sold in pubs nationwide thanks to the partnership with Carlsberg, was a significant factor in Moss and his team taking up the challenge.
A host of venues have already committed to stocking No.3 Pale Ale – and if this experiment is a success there’s no doubt that more of Joshua Tetley’s historic recipes will also be reproduced, back in his own home town.
As Emily Hudson says: “We just want to fly the Tetley flag. We know there is still a genuine love for Tetley’s here in Leeds and we hope this will be the start of something really special.”
Moss adds: “This could be a really interesting journey celebrating everything that is really good about British beer.”