Keeping the faith with Yorkshire's small brewers

HE'ˆcalls himself a beer evangelist. Mike Hampshire, pictured, is a former Chairman of the Leeds branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, a qualified beer sommelier ­'“ and now the founder of the Leeds Festival of Brewers, which will focus attention on some of the smaller producers on the thriving Yorkshire beer scene.

The Festival of Brewers, which takes place next Friday and Saturday (June 29-30) at New Craven Hall, just south of Leeds city centre, will shine a light on smaller, independent craft breweries who are often overlooked at other festivals in favour of the longer-established craft brewers.

“As much as I love the well-known craft brewers and other beer festivals, I wanted to create an event to give an opportunity to those who don’t always get one,” says Mike. His line-up features nine brewers, who will be hosting their own bars, selling cask and keg beers on draft as well as bringing bottles and cans for drinking at the event, or for custormers to take away.

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Some of my personal favourites will be showcasing their wares including Nomadic Beers, based in the Fox and Newt brewhouse in Burley; Eyes, who are concentrating on the growing popularity of wheat beers and the endlessly inventive Wilde Child of Armley. Those seeking reliable, session-strength ales might want to check out Garforth’s excellent Quirky Ales, while others include Sunbeam Ales from west Leeds, Wishbone from Keighley, Crooked Brewing from Church Fenton and the geographically self-identifying Horsforth and Meanwood Breweries.

“These small breweries are all brewing on small kit and producing great tasting, quality beers,” says Mike. “The brewers themselves will also be staffing their own bars so this will be a great opportunity to meet the people behind the beers.”

Independent food vendors Little Bao Boy and Ruby’s Street Kitchen will be selling their produce on Friday and Saturday respectively and there will also be a selection of non-alcoholic drinks available for the designated drivers.

Admission to the Festival of Brewers is by ticket only ­– and they are on sale in advance, priced £6 from Buying them in advance secures yourself a free festival glass, though apparently it will be an empty one.

If Mike’s event celebrates the small and the esoteric, then an event east of the city on the same weekend features some of the region’s more mainstream beers.

Depending on which version of the press release you rely upon, this will be the eighth or the ninth Annual Clifford Champion Beer Festival, taking place at Clifford Village Hall on Saturday 30th, when there will be 30 real ales available including favourites such as Ilkley Mary Jane, Leeds Pale, Kirkstall’s fabulous Dissolution IPA and former CAMRA champion beer of Britain, Elland’s 1872 Porter.

Here the food is mainstream beer festival fodder with the ever popular pie and pease from Setchfields of East Keswick and wood-fired pizzas from The Big Red Oven Co.

Doors are open from noon until 11pm and throughout the day there will be a full programme of musical entertainment which starts out slow and mellow with the Boston Guitar Group at 1pm and gradually ramps up through the day with singer songwriter Ryan Smith, The Ukulele Fusiliers, The Doctors and headline band The 88’s.


Address: New Craven Hall, Leeds, LS11 5NF

Type: Two-day beer festival

Opening hours: 4-10pm Fri 29 June, noon-8pm Sat 30 June

Admission: Tickets are £6 from website and can be bought at the door

Beers: Great choice from nine of the region’s smaller breweries - Wishbone, Horsforth, Eyes, Quirky, Crooked, Meanwood, Nomadic, Wilde Child and Sunbeam

Food: Street food traders

Entertainment: Tutored beer tastings by beer sommelier Mike Hampshire

Beer Garden: Outdoor seating area

Disabled: The venue is fully accessible and dog friendly

Children: No special facilities

Parking: On-street parking available outside