Whitelock’s and The Turk’s Head Beer Festival

Another July, another Whitelock’s and The Turk’s Head Beer Festival. What I like about the annual event, this being the fourth of its ilk, is that there is a theme.

This means you are not just presented with a load of disparate beers requiring that you spend more time drifting around the venue or reading the guide than you do in sampling the ales. This year, the title was ‘The New Wave’ and  new beers were showcased from both old and new breweries who are looking to embrace the craft beer revolution. Both cask and keg examples were on offer, with more than enough to provide a comprehensive choice but not so many as to be overwhelming.

All photographs by Stan Graham

My first stop was the Welcome Desk where I purchased my commemorative glass and programme for £5. Also included is your first half pint. I heartily recommend that you use this glass for some of the more potent ales, several of which were between 10% and 12% abv. Don’t despair should you not wish to imbibe the produce of loopy juice strength as the curator had obviously taken great care to cater for we session drinkers who would like the extra one for the road without suffering (too much) the following morning.  Quite a few brews were in the 3% to 4% abv range with one coming in at a mere 2.9%

Another great thing about this festival is the iconic setting of that Leeds landmark, Whitelock’s, and its neighbour The Turk’s Head, which means that it is like boozing down the local but with a choice you could only dream of. There is outdoor seating in the intimate, atmospheric alley in which the pubs are situated as well as in the pubs themselves, in case of inclement weather. Because of the intimacy of the venue, it is easy to join in with other festival goers and I struck up a conversation with a young chap called Kimi from Finland. I didn’t realise until we were well involved in our reminiscences of Helsinki that Kimi is a director of Bone Machine Brew Co. in Pocklington along with his brother.

Because there are so many beers involved over the weekend they have to be served in rotation and sadly neither of the company’s brews were on tap at the time of my calling, but Kimi gave me a list of the pubs in my area whom they have supplied so I will pop along and have one next time I get a chance. As with the vast majority of independent producers, Kimi was passionate about his beers and proud of his achievements. I hope that his ales are as quirky as his home city, which is totally off the wall.

Our great City is represented by several breweries, including Anthology from Armley, as is Wilde Child, Holbeck’s Northern Monk, Zapato which is a cuckoo brewery in Northern Monk’s premises and another peripatetic firm Eyes Brewing.  If they are not focussed on what they do then they should have gone to Specsavers.

The only downside to the evening was that Capish? had had vehicle problems and couldn’t make kick-off time. I was assured that they will be serving their Italian-American street food by the time the second day of the festival opens.

The Festival runs from 5.00pm on 26th July until 11.00pm on Sunday 29th July during normal opening hours.

Stan writes Let’s Do Lunch for Leeds Living.  He also reviews special events for food and drink, which sometimes takes him beyond Leeds.  He has also developed an interest in writing on culture, most frequently dramatic and musical theatre.

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