Thursday, March 26, 2009

Leeds Brewery

Wed 25 March 2009

You may have gathered that in between drinking wine and making cakes I am an enthusiastic beer drinker. I am also a massive fan of the Leeds Brewery. My workmates and I also spend quite a bit of time in Leeds Brewery's Pin, where we do a reasonable job of currying favour with the staff.

It wasn't long that someone came up with the idea of a trip to birth place of some of our favourite beers and, after a bit of too-ing and fro-ing, we settled on 25 March.


We piled ourselves in a taxi for the short journey from Hunslet to Holbeck and then spent a very pleasant hour and a half with Sam. After pouring us a beer Sam took us through the brewing process and chatted about the setting up of the brewery and the effort (and headaches) involved in setting up the pubs. Of course, we also talked about brewing and quite a lot about the administrative details involved in running a brewery. That might sound really dull but it's actually fascinating. The way in which alcohol production is taxed is skewed dramatically in favour of the government (hmm, there's a surprise) and it seems like everyone is ready to step in and take a cut at pretty much every point of the production process. Among some of the more esoteric facts we learnt was that in Norwich you will find the National Collection of Yeast Cultures, where samples of yeasts used (currently and historically) in the UK are kept and that the guys from Leeds found a strain of yeast from a now defunct West Yorkshire brewery and resurrected that as 'their' culture. It never occurred to me that such a place might exist!

The brewery itself is tiny: at the moment maximum capacity is around 80, 000 pints a week and, as they only have four fermenters, they only brew four times a week.

We all agreed (over a pint or two later at the Midnight Bell) that this was one of the most enjoyable brewery 'tours' we'd been on. Sam did a brilliant job of imparting a lot of information in a very accessible and personable way.

Leeds Brewery doesn't actually run 'tours' - the place is tiny and wholly unsuitable for a large group (there were only 6 of us and any more would have been difficult), so we were very lucky that we were able to arrange this and that Sam was prepared to hang around well after beer o'clock and talk to us.

Probably the easiest place to see the Leeds Brewery in action is at The Brewery Tap by the station - as they have installed a microbrewery upstairs which is brewing lager. And you can fit a lot more than 6 of you in the bar!
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Blogger Katie said...

I love the Leeds Brewery beers. This sounded like a really interesting day out.

9:36 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

It was great to see how such a small brewery operates. On the one hand, I hope they eventually move to larger premises so they can offer tours as standard, but, having said that, the tours might run the risk of becoming a little souless ...

4:46 pm  

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