Brooklyn Brewery Pop-Up Bar, Leeds
In an until now unoccupied warehouse on The Calls something brilliant has popped up for the beer lovers of Leeds. Keep your eyes peeled for an unassuming, unadorned doorway, invisible but for light and the alluring sound of cheery voices. Brooklyn Brewery have thrown up a temporary bar and food hall in a bare bulb-lit cavernous room, with a range of their lesser known ales on tap. Running on a token system, buy them on the way in (£4.50 for one, £20 for five) and exchange them at the bar for the beverage of your choice. Pay up, token up, imbibe and chill out.
The whole vibe is very much like a ruin bar, wearing its pop-up and temporary nature on its bare brick peeling paint flecked sleeve. All the fixtures are put together out of plywood and corrugated steel, with the bar taps sticking through gaps in the metal. Plexiglass covers the empty window frames, themselves void of glass. A huge Brooklyn Brewery logo is graffitied onto the main wall. Reds are providing some damn fine smelling food too from a portable woodburner smoker, a stack of chopped logs stacked neatly next to it. All very bare bones, and all very cool. The atmosphere was lively and chatty, with a nicely diverse crowd sat at the park bench tables the room was finished off with. What could have been the domain of hipsters has attracted all kinds of folks. The bar staff were quick to help you make a decision and talk about the beers if you were undecided or curious.
Speaking of which, they haven’t just stuck on their standard fare here, such as Brooklyn Lager and Pale Ale. You can buy that pretty much anywhere that stocks good beers these days. Instead you’ve got their lesser spotted products such as Pilsner and Pennants and a range of more interesting ales and beers. I dutifully did my best to try ’em all and can happily report that, aside from the Pilsner and Pennants, I did.
A 2/3 pint of Weisse was my first choice, starting things light and easy. It had a nice aftertaste, almost banana-ry. Next down my throat was a pint of Brown Ale, a smokey yet still light and easy to drink little number. I then went for a Scorcher and found an instant entrant into my favourite beers list. At first gulp, you taste citrusy hints. And then the hops kicks in. This is a very hoppy beer, so won’t be to everyone’s taste. It is, however, very much to mine.
I figured at this stage I’d probably found my favourite of the range, but then I struck liquid gold again with a 1/2 pint of Silver Anniversary Lager. The above drinks were all in the 4.5-5.6 range ABV-wise. With the Silver I entered the heavyweight arena with an 8.6 percenter. It has a thick, syrupy texture and a hint of porter-ness to its flavour. It lingers on the ole taste buds for quite a while after. If you only try one drink, make it this.
It is possible that the alcohol had begun to affect my ability to judge taste at this stage but I bravely badgered on with a 1/2 pint of Mary’s Maple Porter, a dark and heavy 6.9er with a very rich taste. It rumbles down the throat, you really know you’ve drank it. The kind of beer that kills your taste buds and ruins your ability to taste anything when drinking subtler ales like pales. Luckily, my last guzzler, the strongest of the bunch, had enough flavour to work its way through. Blast! (yes, that exclamation mark is part of the name) is the hoppiest beer on the menu, which is unsurprising given it contains nine types of hops and has reached a potent 9% ABV. It has a very fruity flavour and a very light weight. This results in it being disconcertingly drinkable. You could drink a lot of this very quickly before you have time to realise you’ve gone from being vertical to horizontal. Having tested most of the menu, I called it a night, buying meself a T-shirt at the merch stand on the way out.
Leeds needs more things like this. It felt like a genuinely different experience, and the whole run down, could-be-packed-up-and-gone-tomorrow aesthetic I am a big fan of. The lack of tarting up and flare gives it flare. That said, I will also be saddened when this place ups sticks and goes; these are some tasty beers I haven’t really seen elsewhere. I suggest you get yourselves down there soon as you can and enjoy while it’s here.