North Bar Leeds: The ‘first craft beer bar in the UK' celebrates turning 25 this weekend

North Bar is celebrating its 25th birthday with a host of celebrations spread across the weekend.

By Abi Whistance
Friday, 1st July 2022, 4:30 pm
Updated Friday, 1st July 2022, 5:27 pm

North Bar is celebrating its 25th birthday this weekend with a whole host of celebrations, from keg collaborations to beer tasting sessions.

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First opened by beer enthusiasts John Gyngell and Christian Townsley back in 1997, North Bar quickly made a name for itself as the must-try spot for some of the best world beers around.

Christian Townsley (co-owner of the North Bar)) with a glass of Mongozo beer back in 2007. Photo: Mel Hulme

Helping to launch international breweries including Erdinger Weisse Bier, as well as modern craft breweries Magic Rock and Northern Monk, the bar continues to inspire people across the city with its laid-back atmosphere and great selection of drinks.

"For so many people in Leeds, and across the UK, North is one of the first places they've ever had a craft beer or tried something different," said Sarah Hardy, head of marketing at North Bar.

"Some of my first memories [of North] are trying an IPA and not knowing what hops were, and I was like oh my god! I didn't know beer could taste like this.

"So John and Christian were talking about how funny it is that you see these big names like Brooklyn Lager or Sierra Nevada Pale Ale now in supermarkets and big pubs, when some of their first pours in the UK were in North Bar."

North Bar is celebrating its 25th birthday this weekend. Photo: Simon Hulme

To celebrate both North's birthday this weekend and its historical significance, staff have curated an incredible tap list of beers that have inspired their journey over the past 25 years.

Beers range from Brouwerij Kee’s iconic Caramel Fudge Stout to collaborations brewed with Sierra Nevada, Roosters and North Brewing Co.

"We've been looking at the history of North and we've also teamed up with Roosters in Harrogate," said Sarah.

"They were one of the first [breweries] to start using American art so we did a collaboration with them because we really love and champion good quality beer. It's all really exciting."

Saturday at North sees Garrett Oliver, founder and brewmaster from The Brooklyn Brewery, host a sold out beer tasting session, with all tickets for the event selling out in just 24 hours.

Erdinger will also be visiting from Germany to provide a ‘beer champagne’ reception on Saturday at 6pm.

Over the weekend local spirits and wine supplier Latitude will assist attendees in creating a curated cocktail passport showcasing North classics.

Customers can then take their completed passports to Latitude throughout July for a 10% in store discount.

For entertainment DJs will be digging into their vinyl collections and playing some of North's favourite hits, with the weekend rounded off on Sunday with a hot coffee, bagel and Bloody Mary recovery session assisted by Doghouse Bagel Shop.

On why North remains so important to Leeds, Sarah said: "[North] has been a real haven for doing things a bit differently. We started doing table service straight away when we opened because we'd seen it in Belgium and in cafes.

"It was very, very revolutionary to have table service in a bar at that point, so it's always been a space where yes, it's all great beer, but it's more about being a great bar."