Monday, 7 September 2015

LEEDS INTERNATIONAL BEER FESTIVAL 2015


I'm sat on the steps of Leeds' stunning Town Hall in some warm September sunshine with a glass of chilled, golden beer in hand, and I'm not alone. Hundreds of people are doing and have done the very same over this amazing 4-day festival of craft beer. Below, I can see where the various tantalising smells of food of the various vendors are coming from, as well as the marquee which is housing some of the UK brewers and there respective drinks. Behind me, a constant conveyor belt of happy, smiling people holding a half or a pint of something, enter and exit the town hall. Lets dip inside...

Main Hall
Undoubtedly it's the beer on offer from some of the most well known and respected breweries in the world that is the attraction. Yet the building we are sampling these liquid delights in plays a huge part in the success of the event (now in its fourth year). It's grand beauty and design as you enter the main hall is almost overwhelming and a better home for such an event seems impossible to think about. Beer is in easy reach even in the foyer where independent Corn Exchange dwellers Little Leeds Beer House have set up a fine display. Selling  bottled and can drinks from numerous other breweries as well as a rotating draught selection. Inside, people stand chatting over their chosen drink, studying the programme of the detailed beverages to go seek out. It's a proper kid-in-a-sweetshop scenario, such a vast choice and most of the cream of the beer producing industry are here with their beers on offer.

Free programme & free glass with entry
Different pallets require different needs and whatever yours maybe, there is a beer for it here somewhere. Money is exchanged for tokens and drinks bought at a steady third of a glass, or the more popular half, or (whisper it) even a full pint! We know it's acceptable to sip and take our time from a small glass as do most craft beer enthusiasts. It feels very continental and (thankfully) a world away from the pint guzzling, tasteless lager brigade. The marquee outside holds enough quality alone with local brewers Northern Monk Brewing Co, Ilkley Brewery, and Roosters Brewery all present. Add to this the likes of Beavertown, Hawkshead and Brew By Numbers into the mix and that would suffice, yet it's merely the tip of the beery iceberg. Inside the town hall, more big name UK brewers can't pour fast enough. London's Five Points, Four Pure, and Partizan breweries each have their own square feet marked out as do Manchester's Cloudwater and Peterborough's Oakham Ales among others, all present and keen to tempt you with their pales,IPA's, stouts and more.. You want more? Offshoot rooms and underneath the hall have it covered...

U.S. Room
The room hosting the beers from the U.S brewers is bustling with hop seekers. I mean just read this list of who's who in here - Firestone Walker, Founders, Odell's, Sierra Nevada, Oskar Blues and more besides. Huge paintings hang high on the walls, looking down on us and casting an eye or two over the goings on. Venture further down into the town hall's basement and cells and things are getting more mysterious and gatherings are becoming lively affairs. Particularly where innovators and party enthusiasts Recon have made their home, in the Cryptic Adventures basement. A 'forest' houses silent disco's, which run hand in hand with guest DJ's spinning some tunes. And of course there's more beer. It is home to the European section of the event with Italian brewers Birra Del Borgo, Brewfist, Toccalmatto and Birrificio Italiano sitting side by side with Edge (Spain), Jopen (Netherlands) and Ireland's Galway Bay. Mikkeller need no introduction I'm sure and have brought an incredible diverse range of beer from their native Denmark. Through the small Veltins (Germany) room and into the winding corridors of the original cells. Look hard enough down here and you'll even find a beer related cocktail bar tucked away!

Silent disco in the Forest
Wherever you go, there's beer to try naturally. It would be tiresome to offer up the incredibly long list we notched up given the amount of 'thirds' we managed to put away. We all have our own favourites, 'go to' beers, and new discoveries we're keen to blab about. Galway Bay Brewery was hugely popular, particularly their incredible 'of Foam and Fury' double IPA (8.5%), and their chocolate milk stout 'Buried At Sea' (4.5%) which is a dessert beer match made in heaven for the right accompaniment or simply a dessert on its own. Mikkeller naturally had people clambering to see what was on offer on any given day at their bar. At 13.1%, the imperial stout 'Black Hole' could certainly have taken you into one if you weren't careful. Rich and complex and massive! Spain's Edge Brewery kept me hop happy bringing their IPA 'Hoptimista' (6.6%) full of piney, citrus goodness. 

Mikkeller bar
Elsewhere, old faithful Magic Rock had a heavy-weight in tow with their 'Bearded Lady' Imperial Stout (10.5%), along with 'Ginspired' (6.4%). A collaboration beer with Siren, clean and crisp and not 'Gin heavy'. London champs Five Points had their lovely imperial smoked porter 'London Smoke'(7.8%) on, as well as the slightly more quaffable 'Railway Porter' (4.8%). Hawkshead seemed to have pleased a lot of people with their 'Chuckleberry Sour' (3.3%) which had vanished by the end of the festival. Their red 'Sundown' (4.5%) was a nice return to a hoppy but not heavy easy drink. Finally, we've got to tip our hat and offer firm handshakes to the New Zealand Beer Collective. To be found up on the top of the steps at the left of the entrance, these guys were full of passion about their beers and only too keen to chat at length about them. Yeastie Boys 'Gunnamatta' (6.5%) became yet another go to beer, an earl grey infused IPA that the folk in Leeds got through 6 kegs of. Three Boys Brewery 'Fresh Hop Gold' (4.5%) feels alive in your mouth as you swirl it around your taste buds. And 'Black The RIPA' (6.66%) by Renaissance Brewery - a black Rye IPA to die for, full of fresh hop flavour and fairly heavy roast. 

Our competition winner (centre) with the NZ Beer Collective
If you've ever wondered just what the fuss is about when it comes to beer festivals, do yourself a favour and put the first weekend of September 2016 into your diary.  Get yourself along to Leeds and be a part of a modern, game-changing beer event that blows away any beer festival you're likely to have set foot in before. See you there.

Words - Pete Jackson

Plus One Magazine would like to offer sincere thanks to the following breweries who participated in our hugely successful competition below...


Thanks also to; 
Drew Millward (poster)
Little Leeds Beer House (Growler and fill up)
Andreas Fält - Vertical Brands (Italian and Firestone Walker prizes)

Special thanks to;
Maria and Darren @leedsBeer

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With the fast approach fourth Leeds International Beer Festival (September 3rd - 6th 2015), we have a very special competition for you to win some fabulous prizes at the event. Click yon our LIBF15 page for all the details on the who's who of this incredible line up. Tickets are going fast and you'll need to already have yours for the chance to enter this competition. 

The prizes are still coming in and as they do we will post them below along with details of the brewery and what to expect from them at this year's festival at Leeds Town Hall.
It'll be one prize per winner, the overall amount of prizes is still TBC but so far we have four.


How to enter.


  • 1.You MUST have a ticket for the event to access your prize if you win.
  • 2.Follow us on Twitter and let us know you'd like to enter the competition by tweeting the following;                                                                                     
  • I've entered @plusonemagazine competition to win stuff at @leedsbeer http://plusonemagazine.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/leeds-international-beer-festival-2015.html
  • 3.Go to our LIBF15 page to post a comment. Tell us which brewery or beer you are most looking forward to tasting. Doesn't have to be one of the below, the winners will be chosen completely at random.
  • Prize winners will be announced on the evening of Wednesday September 2nd via Twitter and on here.
CONGRATULATIONS. ..

1st. @clarkiedp
2nd. @Nelly Toner
3rd. @vinylmojo 


Prizes 


1st Prize;



2nd Prize;



3rd Prize;


See you at Leeds International Beer Festival very soon!