Brew-denell – 3rd Annual Beer Festival 2015 – Review

Subtitled “if students did beer festivals…”

I hope in reviewing this that I don’t come across as patronising, that is not the intent at all, I have a very good time, there were just a few niggles for me…

This event took place (or rather is still taking place) between the 9th to the 11 of January 2015.

It took place at the Brudenell Social Club in the Burley Park area of Leeds, which is a 4 minute train ride out of Leeds, one stop before Headingly.

It is quite the student area by the look of it, grid layout of terraced housing left over from an industrial age, some with full door-size security gates over the front doors.  Much like Hamsterdam.

Tickets were £4 per day, bought in advance, £5 on the door and, I think £7/8 for the whole weekend, Sunday being free.

Entry included either a regular pint glass or a stemmed one, or an extra quid got you a half or pint tankard.

WP_20150110_002You also got a rather nice booklet.

Beers were sold in halves or pints, priced more or less to alcohol volume, ranging from about £2.50 to £5 a half, there was an even split between keg and cask, there were also about 5 ciders and a big range of bottles too.

The average age of the punters couldn’t have been much above 23.

Food was pizza or burgers by The Pizza Bus (@eatourpizza)

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£5-£6, the pizzas were very good, the burgers were also good, if the patties were a little on the small side.  If you can read the above list, most of the ingredients were marinated/contained beers, which I though was quite a good gimmick.

Queuing up outside to get in I noted a list of bands set to perform; Sick Of It All, Julian Cope, Gruff Rhys, Turin Brakes – what the hell kind of venue was this, it just looked like a regular club from the outside?

On the bar they had Estrella Damn (£2.90 a pint), a few other high-end keg lagers, mixed with the regular UK ones.  Cask lines with Kirkstall Brewery beers on, a special keg line for, at the time Left Hand Brewing’s Black Jack Porter (6.8% and I think about £4.50 a pint).  What the hell kind of venue was this?

The main room where the beers were was a good size, but quite small when all the beer equipment was installed, the food was outside, then there was another room with an additional large bar area and then a games room, which itself was two good sized rooms, one containing about 4 pool tables and what looked like a snooker table; which were moved for the bands (not the ones above) to play.

The venue was excellent.  If you want to go to uni, I am now recommending Leeds based on this venue alone, let alone the city centre drinking holes.

The even have a very good hand drier…

WP_20150110_005I’m not going to review the all beers on here, well just a special one, but what I would like to do is thank, part of Manchester’s Brewery Mile, Track Brewing Co. for making me aware of this festival, due to the crowds I was unable to have their Ozark but having had if before, if you can find it, I recommend it.

So I end on as many positives as I can, I’ll state my two niggles…

1) Staffing – there just weren’t enough.  One guy on the door was doing a sterling job for about 8 hours before it looked like he got a break.  The bar itself wasn’t exactly teeming with beer pourers either.  Those that were there were displaying a mainly excellent effort of getting through the queues, but just a couple more people at each service point (even one more) would have made things go a lot quicker and in the end get more people spending more money on more beer.

2) Servings – now I’m not expecting to get 2/3rds of a pint when I ask for a half, but what I don’t expect to get is short-served most of the time.  The oddest moment happened when one of my drinks went slightly over the half-line and rather than just giving me the beer, the additional amount was….POURED AWAY…..what madness is that?

Having said that, the staff were all bob on with their service; friendly and as quick as could be expected.

The large choice of beers was clearly marked on the boards or on giant posters and to make things easier for all, were given numbers like a Chinese menu, even if the numbers themselves weren’t in any order behind the bar.

My special beer of the day, and I did have quite a few very good ones but this stood out, was The Sun Before The Darkness, a 10% Belgian style strong ale by The Yeastie Boys of New Zealand.  The brewery and beers are new to me and this was a very dangerously drinkable beer, maybe too honey-sweet for some, but a lovely complex tasting brew with a very pleasant aroma and no taste of the high ABV at all.

I think I’ve all ready decided that a few days at this place next year might be in order.

So thanks to all the organisers and volunteers – a most excellent time.

To end, this sign did was funny given the circumstances

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