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Anything but scraping the barrel: the beer scene in Leeds

Jun 12, 2019
Anything but scraping the barrel: the beer scene in Leeds

Leeds is known for a lot of things. The huge student population that descends on the city every September through to May, the famous white of the Leeds United football kit, and one of Europe’s largest indoor markets, Kirkgate Market. Leeds as a city has so much to offer. One area the city excels itself in that non-locals might not be aware of is its beer scene. Punters aren’t restricted to choosing between lager or bitter. The city boasts of a rich melting-pot when it comes to beer - ice cream IPAs and coffee stouts are just a couple of the quirky creations that the city has to offer. 

A combination of established breweries and new wave brewers are making Leeds one of the greatest places to grab a pint in the UK. Leeds has become a must-stop spot for beer lovers, perfectly showcasing the careful evolution from cask ales to hop-heavy, world-beating craft brews.

Where better to celebrate National Beer Day on June 15th  than Leeds?

New wave brewers

The likes of Tetley and John Smith used to dominate this landscape; middle-aged Yorkshiremen queued in their droves for a refill of these traditional tipples. Now those same Yorkshiremen are joining young professionals, hipsters and tourists to the city in the same queue, waiting for their glasses to be filled with weird and wonderful concoctions that their fathers would have balked at. 

The modern drinker wants to experience more than X amount of pints for Y amount of pounds sterling. The new wave of brewers like Northern Monk and North Brewing Co satisfy their customers’ palates with a quality over quantity approach. Their ideal clientele is quite happy to sip away at four pints and call it an evening, rather than chasing the cheapest possible pints to pounds conversion rate.

And any scepticism regarding the longevity of the craft beer scene is firmly misguided. North Brewing Co opened a tap room earlier this year in the city centre, which is thriving, and Northern Monk opened another refectory in Manchester. The scene is expanding and is here to stay.

What can marketers learn from a crafted approach?

Dynamism is essential to carving out a space in crowded market. In a saturated market where an average of 18 pubs closed a week in 2018, establishing a new drinking haunt or brewery in the UK can be daunting. Craft breweries don’t attempt to reinvent the wheel, instead they play to their strengths to avoid the same fate as many of the UK’s pubs which have closed down.

They promote their food offering in equal measure to their core product. Think of your favourite pub – chances are it has a good food menu. Most pubs rely on a competitive food menu to supplement drink sales, and new craft beer spots are no different. Many of these new places in Leeds strike the balance between food and drink by having outside retailers take over their kitchen or hosting street food events for thirsty revellers.

It’s calculated that 1/5 of beer production by craft breweries are made for the bottled/canned market to offset the increase of cut-price supermarket beer sales. Craft breweries know what they are and what they want to be, but they aren’t afraid to embrace something new to supplement the sales of their core product offering.  

Something we could all learn from the craft beer scene is embracing negative feedback. Negative feedback can feel like a dagger to the heart of your business, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Craft breweries are taking the feedback of people who aren’t compatible with their products and simply owning it. So what if Mark, 67, from Dunblane doesn’t enjoy your Citra Sour – HE IS ONLY ONE MAN!

By embracing these honest reviews and championing them, brewers are showing that they believe in their product and one negative review won’t derail momentum. A company that takes negative reviews and spins them in a creative way is far more legitimate than the company who buries any disparaging reflections from customers.

Lastly, craft brewers are constantly trying to challenge their consumers. They aren’t content with finding out their customers’ favourite pint and perfecting the recipe for maximum profit. They would rather unsettle our taste buds and demand more from what we deem to be ‘tasty’. This novel approach ensures that customers are likely to return as they’re guaranteed a unique experience every time.

Where to get your fix for National Beer Day

Arcadia 34 Arndale Centre, Otley Road, Leeds LS6 2UE

Assembly Underground 12 Great George Street, Leeds LS1 3AL

Bundobust 6 Mill Hill, Leeds LS1 5DQ

Little Leeds Beerhouse Unit B3B, Leeds Corn Exchange, Leeds LS1 7BR

North Brewing Co Tap Room 3 Sovereign Street, Leeds LS1 4BA

North Bar 24 New Briggate, Leeds LS1 6NU

Northern Monk The Old Flax Store, Marshalls Mill, Marshall Street, Leeds LS11 9YJ

Terminus Tap Room & Bottle Shop (The Meanwood Brewery) Stonegate Rd, Leeds LS6 4HY

Tapped 51 Boar Lane, Leeds LS1 5EL

The beer scene in Leeds is as diverse as it is mouth-watering. Every one of these spots are equipped with staff who will go above and beyond to ensure you have a pint that is perfectly suited to your personal tastes.

Tweet us @otbtweeter with your favourite drinking haunts in Leeds and any hidden gems that we may have forgotten to mention!


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