Friday comment: Leeds International Beer Festival

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1st Leeds International Beer Festival
6 – 9 September 2012 (various sessions)
Leeds Town Hall

It’s been a very long time since Leeds hosted a beer festival of any kind in Leeds city centre which is surprising given the rich beer culture in our city. There are many fantastic beer related events across Yorkshire and the North and Leeds and the surrounding region has a wealth of great pubs and bars that provide high quality beers from the UK and all corners of the globe. The idea to present a new beer festival experience was borne out of a partnership between Kirkstall Brewery and Leeds international Film Festival which saw Kirkstall set up a bar in the Victorian vestibule of Leeds Town Hall to serve thirsty festival goers with freshly brewed beer (the Film Festival present dozens of screenings on one of the largest cinema screens in the North in the venue). It was great to offer audiences a high quality beer drinking experience whilst they sat back and experienced the best Film Festival in the UK.

From there we had the idea to extend this on a much bigger scale and provide a new beer festival experience. As well as recognising our beer heritage we wanted to celebrate the innovation and creativity going on in independent craft breweries today by bringing some of them together in the most prestigious venue in Leeds – the Town Hall. So for four days in September this grand and beautiful building will play host to a fantastic line up of award winning UK breweries along with a US Craft Beer and international bar. And whilst audiences treat their taste buds to new and gorgeous tasting beer they can also take in a great live music line up featuring some of the coolest bands and artists around including Serious Sam Barrett and Tom Attah courtesy of Jumbo Records. As each mammoth beer drinking session lasts for 5 hours audiences can also indulge themselves with the fantastic range of food on offer from some our local foodie heroes including Viva Cuba, Fish& and the newly opened Friends of Ham.

The thing that’s been really amazing and inspiring in our journey to get the 1st beer festival off the ground has been the incredible support of some of our great and iconic venues and organisations in Leeds and Yorkshire, from pubs including Whitelocks in Leeds and The Sparrow in Bradford – to established friends such as Jumbo Records and new ones like Friends of Ham – if you haven’t checked out this wonderful new venue in Leeds get down there. The sense of community has been overwhelming and I think audiences attending the 1st festival will feel this when they walk through the doors of Leeds Town Hall and take the first sip of glorious beer.

Tickets cost £6 per session and includes a commemorative festival glass and full colour programme guide with beer tasting notes.

Full programme details including live music line up can be found at – Twitter @leedsbeer

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