Leeds’ 5 Most Rated Beers Uncovered
15th June 2021
There’s no disputing that Leeds has a serious reputation for beer. We’ve got a beer-y pedigree that stretches back to Joshua Tetley in 1822, through to the UK’s first craft beer bar, North Bar, which opened its doors in 1997 and began bringing game changing European and American brews to Leeds not long after.
In the decades since, we’ve been at the forefront of the craft beer boom, so much so that Leeds can comfortably boast of its status as one of Europe’s true beer cities. Leeds-brewed beers grace the shelves of the finest artisan bottle shops, and the diverse selections to be found on supermarket shelves.
They’re found in kegs, casks and cans in bars and pubs from Tokyo to Toronto, winning medals at international competitions, and finding themselves top billing at beer festivals all over the world. So whether you’re opening a can of Kirkstall Pale in Kirkstall Brewery’s new taproom, sipping a pint of Leodis Larger in a Leeds Brewery pub, or picking up a few bottles of either in a London off-licence, you’ll be reconnecting with our city’s brewing heritage.
But which Leeds beers can we crown as the true champions? In honour of National Beer Day, we took to beer review app, Untappd, to uncover the numbers behind all the hops, yeast and malt. Over 150,000 drinkers put down their pint and logged on to give their opinion on these top five beers, and here’s what they had to say.
North Brewing Co. – Transmission (New England IPA)
North Brewing Co. is the brewing offshoot of North Bar, the aforementioned craft beer pioneers. Their two decades in the industry have given them the kind of heritage many brewing upstarts can only dream of, so it’s no surprise that their core range of beers has been hauling in the awards, and winning over all sorts of drinkers.
Transmission took home the SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers) Overall Champion Keg Beer award, and we can see why. It’s a hefty 6.9% New England IPA, packed with juicy, hoppy, tropical flavours. Is it named after the Joy Division hit? Is it a reference to the founders’ love of cycling? Either way, it’s a true headliner.
Where to find it? Go right to the source and grab a pint at Springwell, North Brewing Co.’s newly opened brewery and tap room, just outside the city centre.
North Brewing Co. – Sputnik (American Pale Ale)
Another North Brewing Co. big hitter, and another American-influenced brew to boot. It’s a much more sessionable 5% (that’s beer-talk for being able to drink a few without sliding under the table), with a light body and a blend of citrusy hops. If you like your pale ales crisp and fruity, this is the one for you. And if you don’t know how you like your pale ales, this is the one to help you decide.
It makes for a tasty pint, but there’s also something to be said for a six pack of the bright red cans to be found in supermarkets and bottle shops all over the place. If you’re looking for something to sip in the park, or to take along to a barbecue, Sputnik is a tried and tested crowd pleaser. Just the right amount of craft to please those in the know, with nothing too left-field to throw off the unadventurous.
Where to find it? If you’re after takeout, you’re never too far from a quality bottle shop. Try Raynville Superstore in Bramley, Caspar’s Bottle Shop in Chapel Allerton, or Beer Hawk in Trinity Leeds. Or a supermarket, but where’s the fun in that?
(North Brewing Co Tap Leeds City – Credit John Slemensek Bokehgo)
Northern Monk – Eternal (Session IPA)
Northern Monk is a true Leeds success story. The brewery began life as a shoestring project brewing out of other premises, but it’s grown to become a rival to any international craft superstar. Their creations are inspired by their northern surroundings, combining the best of monastic brewing values (hence the name) with modern, progressive techniques.
The brewery offers a pretty dazzling lineup of seasonal and special brews, many dreamt up in collaboration with local artists, athletes and creatives as part of their Patrons series. But it’s the core lineup that rakes in the reviews, with nearly 30,000 dedicated drinkers giving their opinion on Eternal, a completely thirst quenching Session IPA. Light, refreshing and full of flavour, it’s got a little bit of American attitude, and a little bit of English moderation.
Where to find it? There’s the Northern Monk Refectory, for starters – a dedicated establishment in Holbeck that makes a great start to a south-of-the-river pub crawl.
Northern Monk – New World (English IPA)
Not all IPAs are made the same, and New World is a fantastic example of the genre. It’s Northern Monk’s tribute to the American hops that first began arriving on the UK scene in the Victorian era, only to be rediscovered at the turn of the 21st century by forward thinking, progressive brewers looking for an alternative to traditional British textures and flavours.
It’s a modern English IPA, drawing sweetness from British pale malts, and packing in five globetrotting hop varieties from the USA, Australia and closer to home. The result is basically everything you want in a pint. Thirst quenching, tasty, brave and bold.
Where to find it? You’re just as likely to come across a can in a backpackers bar in Bangkok as you are in a pub in Batley, but our favourite spot might be Headrow House, where you can sip a perfectly cooled pint on the roof terrace in the sunshine.
(Northern Monk Brewery – credit Tom Joy)
Northern Monk – Faith (Hazy Ale)
This is a biggie. Nearly 50,000 people have had their say, and it’s a resounding ‘yes’ to Northern Monk’s New England style pale ale, Faith. It’s the archetypal modern pale, full to the brim with soft fruit flavours, and a hazy, tropical feel. Those in the know praise its gentle peppery bitterness, or grapefruit hoppiness. But you probably don’t need to worry about that. All you need to know is that it’s summer in a can (or keg, if you’re lucky).
So that’s a top three haul for Northern Monk, and it’s no surprise. Along with North Brewing Co. they’re really at the forefront of Leeds’ brewing scene, and the UK’s for that matter. And there’s no better place to explore it all than right here where the beers are brewed.
Where to find it? After your visit to the city, nip into Leeds Station Marks and Spencer for a couple of chilled cans to make your journey back home a little more atmospheric.
Fancy exploring the Leeds craft beer scene?
If the top five Leeds-brewed beers has whet your appetite, then we’ve got just the tour for you. The award-winning Leeds Beer Tours are launching a brand new Craft Beer Tour for 2021, taking in the best of our brewing scene guided by an expert drinking companion.
The new tour will begin from July 2021 onwards and tickets are available from National Beer Day on the 15th June at leedsbeertours.co.uk
Looking for more? Find out everything there is to know about craft beer in Leeds by visiting www.visitleeds.co.uk/leeds-craft-beer-bars