Reviews and events

Festival of Brewers Focus – Meanwood Brewery

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Nestled between Headingley and Chapel Allerton, Meanwood was for a while just the space in-between its livelier, trendier neighbours. Unless you lived there, you were mainly just passing through on the route to have fun elsewhere. However, over the last ten years there has been a slow trickle of openings and expansions that have resulted in Meanwood being a destination in itself. There’s certainly a range of good beer bars and pubs, and latterly this is looking even healthier due to the creation of the Meanwood Brewery and their subsequent plans.

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Meanwood Brewery is the result of brotherly love, with Graeme and his brother Baz deciding to take their homebrewing hobby to the next level. With a 1hl kit being upgraded soon to a 3hl beast, the brothers are certainly moving apace – the ultimate aim is to open ‘Terminus’, a microbrewpub in the old tram terminus. With beers in Cask, Keg and rather slinky Bottles, their range stretches from ‘Pilgrim’, a NEIPA, to ‘Trickster’, a strong Saison, to ‘Exile’ a Blackberry Crumble Berliner Weisse, all of which will be on their Bar at Festival of Brewers, along with casks of ‘Totem’, a 6.2% American Brown Ale, ‘Arecibo Message’, a 5.7% American Pale Ale, and ‘Heroic’, a 5% English IPA.

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If you can’t attend the Festival of Brewers for some unimaginable reason, you’ll find their bottles at the usual places – Alfred, Beer Ritz, Raynville Superstore, Growlers, Caspar’s Bottle Shop and George and Joseph, as well as at Alley Cats and Corner Cafe, in Pop up events at Tandem and the occasional keg in Wapentake. Baz is excited about ‘getting to work alongside so many great breweries from the area and trying some of their beers with the public’ and if you haven’t already snapped up a ticket, his advice is simple. ‘Get one. You definitely don’t want to miss out on this one’.

About the Festival of Brewers

The first ever Festival of Brewers event takes place on 29th and 30thJune 2018, with New Craven Hall hosting, which can be found just one-mile South of Leeds City Train Station.

All too often, independent beer festivals choose to focus their attention on the same, larger, popular UK craft breweries. This makes it difficult for the hundreds of smaller breweries across the UK to share the spotlight. Festival of Brewers aims to address that by only showcasing the small and independent breweries.

You can find out all the information, including participating breweries and street food vendors, tickets and how to find the venue on the website www.festivalofbrewers.co.uk.

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Opinion and rants

Festival of Brewers Focus – Eyes Brewing

Starting up a brewery seems hard. Especially to an outsider, like me, who hasn’t and will probably never try. So kudos from me to anyone who gives it a go, especially when it’s a unique concept such as that of EYES Brewing. EYES have started up the UK’s one and only Wheat-focused brewery, and they also think that it is the first of its kind anywhere in the world since the Second World War.

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As well as having an original concept for their brewery, Dan, Chris and Tom also have a pretty eventful back story, as explained by Dan. ‘After my little girl was born I stepped away from a career in stand up comedy and back in to teaching.  After going on a day of brewing with Andy and Steve from Learn to Brew, now Crooked Brewing, Tom and I started to get into the theory and make up of beer. As I was building an extension on my house, my wife suggested we build a little bit on the back to put a small brew house in. I paid for the room, Chris and Tom paid for the brewery, and then EYES home brewing was born.’

From banding together over a 100L kit, things progressed when Chris  had the opportunity to become an assistant brewer under master brewer Al (now at Brass Castle) at Ainsty Ales in York, learning how to brew on scale. However, things weren’t running as smoothly for Dan in this period. ‘I was struggling with depression and ended up in hospital. The school I was working for were incredibly supportive until they saw a photo of me at York CAMRA Beer festival’. Disappointingly, the school then changed tack and pressured Dan to quit his job, resulting in a legal battle which ended with him being awarded compensation for his unfair treatment.

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Eventually, alongside a small business loan EYES finally had enough money to buy a van, a fleet of casks and ingredients for the first few brews. In December 2016 they started to sell their first beer, cuckoo brewed at Ainsty Ales, an arrangement which has worked well leading to them brewing at various places in and around Yorkshire. The EYES team is now a quartet of Dan, Chris, Nev and Tom.

EYES are looking to stand out with their range of Wheaty treats, in particular one from the darker end of the scale. ‘Dark Harvest will be a stand out for people as it is one of the world’s first ever Black Hopfenweisses. When we started brewing we started to make German style Hefeweizens as this is what we loved to drink. We then decided to see if we could create more British and American styles of beer but continue to keep over 50% wheat in the grist. Our first ever sale was in Whitelocks which we found incredible, and we will be bringing some exciting cask beer as well as cans’.

Eyes Brewing

The EYES crew are looking forward to attending Festival of Brewers, and are relishing the thought of being a part of a small, independent event. ‘This is like an underground gig for bands to look out for. Leeds has an incredible history when it comes to brewing and this is the future. I think people should get a ticket to see some of the innovation and up and coming stars of this great City of Beer. Though we are pretty much a festival of relative unknowns in the beer world we have a lot of variety amongst us. This is what I am looking forward to. There will be so many different beer styles to get. You won’t get sick of the same beers again and again like you may at other festivals’

About the Festival of Brewers

The first ever Festival of Brewers event takes place on 29th and 30thJune 2018, with New Craven Hall hosting, which can be found just one-mile South of Leeds City Train Station.

All too often, independent beer festivals choose to focus their attention on the same, larger, popular UK craft breweries. This makes it difficult for the hundreds of smaller breweries across the UK to share the spotlight. Festival of Brewers aims to address that by only showcasing the small and independent breweries.

You can find out all the information, including participating breweries and street food vendors, tickets and how to find the venue on the website www.festivalofbrewers.co.uk.

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Leeds Beer, Boozers and Breweries

Festival of Brewers Focus – Horsforth Brewery

As an introduction to the inaugural Festival of Brewers in Leeds on June the 29th/30th, organiser Mike Hampshire and I will be profiling some of the attending breweries, some of which may be new to drinkers in Leeds and beyond. First up for me is Horsforth Brewery.

Suburban Brewing Dreams

Horsforth lays claim to being the largest village in the United Kingdom which, given that it is now a rather sizeable suburb of Leeds, seems like a bit redundant. It’s certainly more like a small town these days, with decent pubs, eateries, a University and more recently, a brewery.

Like Horsforth itself, Mark Costello’s Horsforth Brewery has also grown recently. From an accomplished home brewing set up to 1bbl capacity brewhouse, brewing twice a week, Mark decided to take the next step last year. Whilst the business seemingly operates out of Mark’s garage, the building was actually reconstructed with the sole purpose of being his brewhouse, resulting in a compact but professional setup.

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The Shiny Hose House

Mark still brews part time alongside his existing job at the moment and enjoys the balance that gives him. ‘I’m hoping that Festival of Brewers will be an indication of how well things are going. I don’t struggle to sell beer, and the Horsforth Pale absolutely flies out on cask, which makes it my go-to beer at the moment and which I brew as much as possible. I’m a big fan of Saisons as well, I did one last year and I’ve been waiting for summer to brew it again. Wheat beers are also a favourite, and I like Rye beer especially my Black Rye IPA, which is a bit of a hard one to get people to try, but once they do I find that they like it’.

Expansion and Identity

Mark acknowledges the pressure of establishing his brewery in a busy market, and sees it as important to create an identity and brew beers ‘that work’. ‘There may be more adventurous brewers than me out there, but i like creating beers that showcase the flavours that are meant to be there. And some people may call my brewery traditional, but others may call me a crazy brewery – not many trad brewers make 7.5% fruity saisons. I look to people like Magic Rock who understand the width of their customer base. As the market for beer around Horsforth has grown, with new places like the Hop Shack and Granville’s widening people’s horizons, creating a great hoppy cask Pale will lead to them trying my other beers on the back of it’.

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Plans afoot

Mark’s beers have made it into most of Leeds’ bottleshops, as well as Ilkley, Otley and Ossett, but given that every brew is selling out at the moment, Mark acknowledges that extra capacity is going to be needed to further increase supplies, as well as investing the time to secure new customers. Last year’s bottled Raspberry Saison sold out to the trade within a day of release which indicates how well regarded the brewery was even after only operating at it’s current scale for a short period.

Festival Plans

Given the success of the previous brew, Mark is planning to showcase his Saisons at the Festival of Brewers. ‘I’m going to have four Keg beers – Horsforth Pale, Rubis (my Raspberry Saison), Soleil (my Rhubarb Saison) and Weiße Rose (my Hefeweizen). My Hefe is typically full of that Banana aroma that we associate with German wheat beers and i’m looking forward to seeing how people respond to it’.

‘I’m looking forward to the experience of having my own bar for the first time, I’ve worked bars before but this one really counts personally and I’m looking forward to seeing drinkers’ reactions up close. I haven’t advertised the brewery at all other than on social media, so I’m looking forward to seeing who’s heard of me too! Getting feedback from unbiased customers is fantastic, especially if it’s good.’

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Cleaning and Prepping

Unity and Togetherness

Speaking to Mark, it’s clear how much being involved with the Festival of Brewers means to him, and how excited he is to begin pouring for the public. ‘It’s a really interesting idea, as there are loads of good beer festivals out there that all feature the well known breweries, and rightly so, but this is a unique range of breweries and I’ve always liked the idea of supporting the little guy – and in comparison to others the breweries here are the little guy. All the owners of the attending breweries will care deeply about the event, and will have put a lot of effort into their setup for the day, so to see customers making that effort to attend in return will be really encouraging to us. I’m looking forward to trying the beers that Crooked Brewing bring to the festival, and they’re great guys as well. I’ve not had too much from Wishbone, which i’m looking forward to sampling, and trying Meanwood Brewery’s beers.’

As I talk to Mark, he is prepping to brew his Raspberry Saison for the festival and is thinking over a few tweaks to the recipe to ensure the beer will taste better than ever, and he is full of praise for the other brewers that he knows will be doing the same. It’s clear that any competitiveness between bars will be of the friendly variety, and this togetherness will be a real strength not only at the Festival, but for the Leeds brewing scene going forwards.

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This good boy poked his nose in briefly

About the Festival of Brewers

The first ever Festival of Brewers event takes place on 29th and 30thJune 2018, with New Craven Hall hosting, which can be found just one-mile South of Leeds City Train Station.

All too often, independent beer festivals choose to focus their attention on the same, larger, popular UK craft breweries. This makes it difficult for the hundreds of smaller breweries across the UK to share the spotlight. Festival of Brewers aims to address that by only showcasing local small and independent breweries.

You can find out all the information, including participating breweries and street food vendors, tickets and how to find the venue on the website www.festivalofbrewers.co.uk.

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