Beercast: Leeds comedians Larry and Paul explore city's beer culture in podcast

Whether it's the taste of modern craft ales, the period piece charms of pubs such as Whitelock’s, or the history of Joshua Tetley’s brewery, one thing is for sure: Leeds has a special link to the beer industry.

It is a subject savoured by comedy partners Larry Budd and Paul Dunphy, a pair who love its bustling beer culture so much they wanted to celebrate it in podcast form.

Beercast - Leeds is a 10-episode series presented by the pair which features the pubs, businesses and people who make the West Yorkshire city one of the top spots for a tipple. As well as speaking to producers from firms such as North Brewing Co and Northern Monk, they champion ‘nano’ or ‘micro’ breweries like Tartarus or Piglove and their use of exotic ingredients from around the world.

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“We wanted to make something that was really listenable because of our radio backgrounds and we wanted to make it about beer in Leeds,” says Larry, a former BBC Radio Leeds presenter, of Chapel Allerton.

Larry Budd, Johnny I'Anson and Paul Dunphy with North Brewing Co's John Gyngell and Sarah Hardy, and Andy Turner, co-owner of Dave’s Pies.Larry Budd, Johnny I'Anson and Paul Dunphy with North Brewing Co's John Gyngell and Sarah Hardy, and Andy Turner, co-owner of Dave’s Pies.
Larry Budd, Johnny I'Anson and Paul Dunphy with North Brewing Co's John Gyngell and Sarah Hardy, and Andy Turner, co-owner of Dave’s Pies.

“But not make it too geeky,” adds Paul, 38, who lives in the city centre. “That was really important, that we don’t spend ages pontificating about the tasting notes.”

He continues: “The main point of the podcast is celebratory first. It’s easy to overlook how important beer and hospitality are to Leeds - it’s probably one of the tenets of the city, it’s one of the reasons you would come here, despite some people saying it would be about the shopping - which it isn’t - so this is a way of shining a light on it and going: ‘Look how incredible this is, look how much variety there is, look how much everybody’s working together, look how lovely everyone is’.”

The series has reached half-way and in the first episode, The Modern History of Leeds Beer, Larry and Paul speak to recurring guest Simon Jenkins, who wrote The Yorkshire Beer Bible, Whitelock’s Ale House manager Beth Templeton and Maz Terron Busteros from Leeds International Beer Festival.

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Other subjects they explore include Women in Beer, examining how gender-inclusive the industry is, featuring conversations with Horsforth Brewery’s Emma Kerrawn and the Women on Tap community interest company founder and director Rachel Auty.

Whitelock's Ale House, Turk's Head Yard, Leeds. Picture: James Hardisty.Whitelock's Ale House, Turk's Head Yard, Leeds. Picture: James Hardisty.
Whitelock's Ale House, Turk's Head Yard, Leeds. Picture: James Hardisty.

The Beer and Food episode features an interview with Mayur Patel and Marko Husak, the pair behind Indian vegetarian street food restaurant Bundobust, which has ventured into brewing.

Meanwhile, Beer: Serious Business was recorded from Springwell, North Brewing Co’s brewery and taproom in Leeds with the business’s co-founder and director John Gyngell and head of marketing Sarah Hardy.

More subjects will be explored before the series culminates with “Leeds’ Ultimate Beer Crawl”, a trip around some of the city’s greatest pubs.

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Producer and roving reporter Johnny I’Anson also heads out to community projects such as the Horsforth Hop Drop, which allows locals to grow hops to exchange for beer at Horsforth Brewery.

Larry, 42, notes a conversation the pair had with John Gyngell while making the podcast.

“He thinks that beer and hospitality and the bar scene, that is the story of Leeds. And you’ll look back maybe in 20 years time and go, ‘Oh yeah that seems obvious now’ – but it seems the right time to really celebrate it. Because you always hear this phrase, that ‘Leeds hides its light under a bushel’. I’ve always hated that phrase because I just think, well stop saying that and start shouting about it. So that’s what we’re trying to do is just celebrate something and drink some beer at the same time - which is really arduous.”

In episode one, which was recorded in Whitelock’s off Briggate, during the conversation with Simon Jenkins they talk about how the contemporary brewing scene in Leeds may have been born from the closure of its most famous beer producer: Tetley’s operations in the city were closed by Carlsberg in 2011 after nearly 190 years.

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“You suddenly had a brewing vacuum and it just created a fertile ground and I think there is an argument in saying Tetley leaving was the best thing that ever happened to beer in Leeds,” says Larry.

The comic pair are known for sketches such as the Royal Television Society Yorkshire award-winning Newsreader Nightmare, Every Political Debate Ever, which has been featured on BBC Radio 5Live, and The ISIS Closing Down Sale, made for BBC Comedy. In March 2020, they set up the Northern Imposters production company with the intention of developing scripted TV and radio comedy.

“We’re getting really nice feedback from around the brewing community and a lot of other craft beer influencers, if you like, have been following and getting on board and saying: ‘This is a good thing to be doing’,” says Larry

“It’s been touched on and people have done stories about Leeds brewing, obviously it’s an interesting field and part of the reason we wanted to do it was to be able to really dive deeply. Who’s going to do 10 hours on Leeds brewing? Who’s daft enough to do that?”

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The podcast has been supported by Welcome to Leeds and Leeds BID. Head of marketing, Martin Dickson, says: “We’re delighted to be supporting this innovative and engaging project, which is shining a light on one of our most important and thriving business sectors.

“Beercast Leeds is highlighting the huge impact that brewing has had on our city, and on our economy, while celebrating the diversity and amazing community spirit within the industry.”

The podcast is available on Spotify, Apple, Audible, and other platforms.