The Tetley Beer Garden is Open

Google the word ‘optimism’ and the first thing you see is the dictionary definition which reads ‘hopefulness and confidence about the future or the success of something’.

It then goes on to give an example of a sentence to illustrate the meaning.  I should like to add a sentence of my own more accurately to explain the word.  The Tetley is opening a beer garden outside its bar and kitchen on Hunslet Road – in September.  Bearing in mind that September is not usually too bad a month for weather, after a summer like we have just endured this seems to be the epitome of hopefulness and confidence about the future or success of something.  

I spoke to Millie, who is in charge of marketing at The Tetley, and Holly, the Events Manager, who told me that the timing was something not totally within their control, but when they were offered a grant by Tetley’s Brewery in the form of the provision and sponsorship of the fitting out of the beer garden, they couldn’t refuse and jumped at the chance.  As it has turned out they might not have had much use out of the space during this wet summer anyway.  

A bit of clarification is probably in order here, as the names can be a bit confusing. The Tetley is a charitable organisation, being a centre for contemporary arts putting on events and exhibitions.  As you would expect, the tradition of the building has been honoured by having a wonderful bar and kitchen, all the proceeds of which go into supporting the artistic programme. It is housed in the old Tetley’s Brewery Headquarters on Hunslet Road, just a short walk out of town down Briggate.  Although it no longer has anything to do with Tetley’s Brewery, now owned by Carlsberg, probably, they still support The Tetley by making gestures such as this. Thankfully, the bar stocks its namesake’s beer and last night I was able to enjoy a couple of pints of Tetley No.3 cask ale. This has to be up there with my favourites, tasting like beer used to do and at 4.2% having just enough of a kick whilst still allowing you to have a couple without getting silly(er).  

Because Tetley’s Brewery doesn’t do things by halves, except their beer of course, no expense has been spared in the quality of the fixtures and fittings in the beer garden. In addition to the conventional outdoor drinking furniture, which I seem to remember was there before, a set of really cool industrial metal and wood tables and benches have been installed which seem to echo the brewery’s manufacturing history.  A new lighting system is there for evening functions or for those balmy November afternoons when you crave a pint in the open air.    

If you fancy some sporting activity, there is a boules court and other equipment has been provided to while away the time should your phone battery die.  There is a giant jenga, a limbo frame and a couple of ropes with wooden rings attached, the purpose of which I am not certain, but I’m sure that I have seen something similar in a programme on one of the more ‘liberal’ satellite channels. Bowls of water are also provided should you have four legs rather than just the two, or have a more eccentric method of hydrating.  

For the launch party, the full array of facilities was on show, with a barbecue, disco and a temporary bar indicating that there will be some rocking evenings to come.  The great thing about the position of The Tetley is that there are no neighbours to bang on the wall should the music get a bit loud. We were also treated to some great hot canapés straight from the aforementioned kitchen, a mini vegetable quiche and a similarly sized shepherd’s pie. Both were delicious. Although the evening was lovely and sunny, there was a force 8 blowing, which meant that the barbecue was not as spectacular looking as it will normally be, with everything needing to be anchored down by various means to prevent it from feeding the good people of Wakefield.  

Should the weather be clement enough to tempt you to enjoy an outdoor beer or something to eat, then I highly recommend that you give The Tetley a try. Please also keep your eye on their website as there will be special events utilising this new space in the coming months.  

I really do admire the optimism of The Tetley, but I will stick to my inbred Yorkshire pessimism, not least because when things don’t go according to plan, I can only be pleasantly surprised.  

For details of events at The Tetley go to https://www.thetetley.or  

All photographs by Stan Graham.


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