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Leeds Brewery, Midnight Bell

At its peak Tetley’s employed over a thousand people in their Leeds brewery alone. So when the doors closed in 2011 it was a blow to the locals and the economy. It had played a big part in the area’s history and to see it go from being brewed in the city to being produced in places like Wolverhampton and Tadcaster was a personal affront to many of the locals. Even by Yorkshire standards, Leeds folk are a proud bunch.

Wind the clock back a little bit to 2007 when two friends Sam Moss and Michael Brothwell launched the Leeds Brewery. Both were history graduates and former employees of the York Brewery who saw an opportunity to launch their own independent brewery. In Leeds.

Whilst the the term Leeds Brewery had previously been used to describe the location of the Tetley’s brewery in the city it wasn’t anything that big beer co. had actually registered. So why not call their brewery that and make good beer for the people of Leeds?

So as Tetley’s closed their doors, the new Leeds Brewery became the largest brewery in the city. Almost by accident. 

There’s a deliberate no fuss approach to their beer range. There are some nods towards the current trends in craft beer with the likes of an American pumpkin ale but there is much more in the range that reflects all that has come before and the people that the beer has been brewed for.

There’s also a relentless focus on finding and using only the best possible ingredients in their range. All the malts are sourced from the UK and even the yeast is identifiable as a Yorkshire strain, having been re-appropriated from an old Leeds brewery.

The end result is a well earned reputation for good beer that the locals can be proud of. If you are in the area you are as likely to find their beers in a traditional looking pub as you are a hip city centre craft beer bar.

Speaking of which, in 2008 Leeds Brewery opened its first pub, The Midnight Bell. Since then the brewery has opened another five pubs with a seventh due to open (in York) in the next couple of weeks. Each has its own character but with unifying elements of great beer and good food.

It’s no accident that the flagship pub shares its name with this week’s beer. It is also the title of a novel by Patrick Hamilton. Set in 1920s Soho, the Midnight Bell is a London pub that forms centre stage where Bob, an ex sailor turned barman, dreams of becoming a writer but becomes infatuated with Jenny, a young prostitute who he meets in the bar. We won’t ruin it for you, but it’s all a bit bleak.

Apt that this week’s beer is a slightly out of fashion dark mild. Cosey and something that is reminiscent of a time and breweries gone by but with a contemporary edge that is all about balance over blandness. This beer gives me immediate food associations. One sip this and I am already looking forward to a nice roast dinner this weekend. With Yorkshires.

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This beer should be served lightly chilled and with the local Yorkshire delicacy that is Parkin.


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