Some 13,000 years ago the nomadic Natufians began experimenting with the process of fermentation, and with that came the creation of the one of the world’s most widely consumed alcoholic beverages: beer. From hoppy IPAs to fruity lagers, nothing is more inviting and refreshing after a days’ work. As the summer months dawn on Leeds and temperatures increase, it’s time to move our drinking habits outside and find the greatest beer gardens in the city.
Beer gardens themselves are a German invention, originating from Munich in the 19th century when outdoor areas were attached to the traditional beer halls and breweries. They have since spread worldwide, but Germany remains home to what is possibly the largest beer garden in the world: the Hirschgarten restaurant which has seating for over 8,000 people.
Leeds is not without its own crop of stunning and lively beer gardens and terraces, however. Nestled within the city limits you can find the likes of Whitelocks, the oldest public house in Leeds, which was built in 1715. Located in a back alley behind the Trinity shopping centre, it boasts a long and narrow beer garden with an unmissable overhead sign. They serve several local and craft beers from the likes of Kirstall and Ilkley, as well as familiar lagers such as Carling. The outdoor seating might not be expansive, but it offers a calmer and more composed atmosphere. Whitelocks may not offer the cheapest pint around, but it is an ideal location for any city employee in search of a post-work beer.
If you are in search of a livelier location for your evening jaunts then Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen, located off Merrion Street, is home to a sizeable weather-ready rooftop terrace, fit with heaters for the winter months. Commonly, music plays throughout the establishment and their partnership with Super Friendz means it is a regular stage for gigs. At Belgrave, you will be in direct sunlight and good company, with its chatty staff and patrons. They offer many craft ales, in addition to the usual lagers, which you can also opt to have an entire pitcher of, at favourable price. If you a student or music fan, then Belgrave’s roof terrace will be your beer garden of choice this summer.
Toward the canal, south from the hustle and bustle of Leeds centre, lives the somewhat up-market Aire Bar. Stepping down into Aire Bar removes you immediately from the industrial city as you sit next to the canal and sip at your beer of choice. This establishment can definitely be considered as one of Leeds’ hidden gems, in prime location if you live in Brewery Wharf. Aire Bar possesses a harmonious atmosphere, where one has the time and quietness to think and converse.
How about Sheaf St? Located in Duke Studios, it’s already a hidden gem in itself – with amazing food and drinks for you to enjoy. But their beer garden is a hidden gem inside a hidden gem. You’ll find the cosy spot surrounded by yellow bunting like their trademark exterior and is a genuinely lovely place to sit. Definitely one not to be missed!
If you want to venture out a little to a place that does amazingly brewed beer and has loads of place for you to sit, then Northern Monk in Holbeck might just be the place for you. The beer garden is full of greenery, rustic benches and most importantly: catches a lot of sun. The surroundings of historic mills, good people and good beer is a winner on a Spring day.
Of course, Leeds is home to dozens and dozens of public houses – many of which have outdoor spaces – but the experience on offer at places such as the Hedley Verity does not parallel the enjoyment one may receive when drinking in one of the above independent beer gardens.