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Ten reasons why Leeds is heading the new beer revolution

Written by
Chris Parkin

Ale drinkers have known this for a while, of course, but a new generation of breweries and craft-beer fanciers have done more than most to revive the UK's pub scene. The Observer noted this recently, explaining how Whitelock's – the oldest boozer in Leeds – was saved by a young brewery and its decision to tap into Yorkshire's thriving brewing scene.

So to further prove Leeds' standing in the beer-drinking stakes, here are ten supping tips. 

Burley Street Brewhouse
A small but perfectly formed micro-brewery which lives under and operates The Fox and Newt and also stocks The Packhorse. Their beers favour a more traditional real ale palette, but their session pale ale is a keeper.

North Bar
These folks, who opened up in 1997, claim they were the first craft-beer bar in the country and they're certainly dedicated to the cause. You'll find 16 beers on tap and bottles galore, including beer from the next bunch.

Kirkstall Brewery
The area of Kirkstall has been brewing beer since the 12th century when beer-loving monks built an abbey on the River Aire. They were followed in the 19th century by the original Kirkstall Brewery, and now a new generation of Kirkstall beer wizards are making delightfully hoppy beers on the banks of the Leeds-Liverpool canal.

The Brewery Tap

The Brewery TapJessica Wright

Leeds Brewery
Given a shout out in the Observer alongside Whitelock's was the 18th-century White Swan. It was closed for two years before being taken over by the Jamie Oliver-approved Leeds Brewery, who also run the excellent Brewery Tap and Crowd of Flavours, and whose beers run the stylistic gamut from traditional and dark to zesty and pale.

Northern Monk
Inspired by the ale-brewing monks (them again) who used to churn out barrels of beer at Fountains Abbey, these folks are housed in a grade-II listed mill in Holbeck and make delicious beer. Go and sample it in their Refectory tap room.

The Refectory tap room at Northern MonkGiles Smith

Friends of Ham
Opened in 2012 by Claire and Anthony Kitching after a trip across the US and a visit to Portland, this award-winning bar champions local beers as well as super-obscure US ales. Expect lots of big hoppy flavours.  

Tapped Leeds
Opened by the same people behind the Sheffield Tap, where they also brew their own concoctions (including a Belgian-style ale called Downtown Abbaye), you'll find a befuddling array of 27 different beers on tap, plus a three-figure selection of bottles.

Wharfe Bank Brewery
There are more breweries on the outskirts of the Leeds than you can wave a filtration kit at, like Cottingham, Saltaire, Outlaw, Copper Dragon… the list goes on. Otley's Wharfe Bank Brewery, opened in 2010, is one of the best.

Beer Ritz
Calling itself Leeds' "original craft-beer mega store," this shop on Weetwood Lane, Headingley, is your go-to spot if you're hankering after one more beer on the walk back from an all-afternoon session. You'll be dumbfounded by the huge selection. 

Beer Ritz, HeadingleyTim Green

Leeds International Beer Festival
Yes, yes, everywhere from Abbas Combe to Zouch has a beer festival these days, but this Leeds festival is one of a kind. Sponsored by Whitelock's, held at Leeds Town Hall, and soundtracked by indie-rock noise-makers, you won't find many sandal-clad feet here. Keep your eyes peeled for the 2015 edition on September 4-7.

If we've raised your hackles, shout at us and tell us where you go for your next-generation beer fix.

Keep your eyes on Time Out Leeds for more beer goings-on.

Follow CAMRA Leeds on Twitter.

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