The story of North Brewing Co. begins with North Bar, Leeds longest standing craft beer institution. It opened in 1997 with humble aspirations... “just a place for nice people to drink in the city” explains co-founder Christian Townsley. Having moved on from being the UK’s top account for Kronenbourg 1664 “at the time it was the newest and most exotic beer anyone could get hold of”, North Bar soon became the go to destination for imported beers from the continent and the US.
“We searched for new beers. We pushed boundaries. One day we came across Anchor Liberty Ale. We poured the first Sierra Nevada, Brooklyn and Erdinger in the UK.”
In 2005 they decided they wanted to get in on the brewing act themselves. They visited brewpubs and breweries all around the world to gather inspiration. But by this point, the bar was doing rather well. So they opened another bar… and then another… and then… well, now there are eight bars affiliated to North Bar within a 20 mile radius of Leeds city centre. A lack of time and money meant their dream of owning a brewery would have to wait.
It took until 2015, when North Bar teamed up with the folks behind the Belgrave Music Hall and Headrow House to finally make it happen. “The number of bars we owned had grown to a size that we figured we could sustain the brewery with the customers we already had, so it became a no-brainer and we took the plunge” explains Christian.
It has been a complete whirlwind for Christian and his business partner John Gyngell ever since. They’ve pretty much doubled the volume of beer they brew every year since launching and have become the type of brewery that North Bar used to champion.
It’s no surprise they’ve been a huge success. If anyone knows what people want when they wander into a bar, Christian and John do. The beer range is a perfect mix of highly drinkable Pales, IPAs and Lagers that look as good as they taste. The core offering is supplemented by some incredible, seasonal one-offs and specials that are usually sold out in minutes.
Introduced in the Summer of 2016, Piñata contains four different tropical fruits and a whole load of new world hops. Mandarin and grapefruit peel were used in the kettle and Guava and Mango added after fermentation. “We figured we’d brew a beer that tastes like sunshine in a glass” says Christian and they’ve done exactly that. It’s dry and easy drinking with beautiful soft tropical aromas and flavours that wouldn’t be out of place in a decent cocktail.
North Bar still boasts one of the finest, most interesting and comprehensive selection of beers in the North of England. North Brew Co are so busy they often can’t brew enough beer to keep North Bar stocked. A nice problem to have.