Back in early August I noticed someone re-tweet a new account on Twitter; Brewers Market, which immediately grabbed my attention. On further investigation, Brewers Market was going to be a three day market in an old mill, filled with a vast array of keg beers and street food stalls. Keg only. I was excited.
The location of the Brewers Market was Canal Mills, an old 18th century textile mill on the Armley side of Leeds. The mill was only refurbished two years ago and the space is currently used for a variety of different events ranging from night markets to club nights. The Brewers Market was the first of its kind for Canal Mills; a beer festival of sorts offering over 50 different beers.
After taking the ‘scenic’ route along the Leeds – Liverpool canal you enter the mill and immediately feel like you have been transported to somewhere in London. The high ceilings are dripping with fairy lights, the exposed brick work gives a trendy urban feel and the floor space is filled with picnic benches.
The £7 ticket cost covered your entrance fee, a pint sized souvenir glass and a programme. We were a bit disappointed with the programme – it was a list of the beers which had been previously published on the Brewers Market Twitter account. There were no additional tasting notes available which would have been a nice touch – even a mention of the beer style would have helped.
Personally, when we are drinking keg beers we like to drink them from a half glass and in third measures. In our opinion, any beer over 7% should be offered in thirds. For example, there was BrewDog Russian Doll Barley Wine which is 10%. I would have liked to have tried this one but there was no way I could have drunk a half and continued long into the night.
Once we picked up our glasses we went to the token stand. As with most beer festivals the bars were cashless and operated a token system. Here you exchanged your sterling for raffle tickets – these were your tokens. Each raffle ticket represented £1 (which wasn’t advertised or explained when we were making our purchase). Many of the beers were £2.50 which required tearing the paper in half. This seemed a bit of an after thought and didn’t work as well as the token system should. A card with £1/50p values to mark off would have been just as easy and would have worked a little better.
When me and Leanne are at festivals we both like to try beers we haven’t tried before (where we can). I started with a Liverpool Craft Love Lane Pale as it was a modest 4.5% – a good starting beer to enjoy whilst browsing the programme. Leanne started with a Weird Beard Little Things That Kill (3.8%). We assumed this was Batch 9 but this wasn’t listed in the programme. After having Batch 8 at Leeds International Beer Festival and loving it, this seemed a good place to start. It was slightly more sour than Batch 8 but still nice and juicy.
My next choice was the Northern Monk / Weird Beard collaboration; Blue Habit, a blueberry saison at 6%. It was great that this was served at a good temperature so that the big fruity flavours of the blueberries came through (some of the beers served were ice cold and the flavours were lost). Northern Monk are fast becoming one of my favourite breweries. From first trying their New World IPA (a big punchy boozy IPA) early last year to more recently sampling their take on a black IPA; Dark Arches. Look out for their Refectory opening later this month….
Leanne loves Burning Sky Devils Rest so really wanted to give the 4.4% Arise a go. This is a session IPA with peach and pine flavours followed by a bitter after taste. Enjoyable but it did lack a bit in the flavour department. An easy drink however.
Most of the beers I wanted to try were quite high in abv (especially when they were being served in halves!) so I wanted a low percentage beer next. I’ve had a few bottled beers from Red Church before and as I hadn’t seen them on keg anywhere I chose the Broadway Black Ale (2.9%). Although this looked dark and heavy, it smelt like your typical IPA and was refreshing in the mouth with a light coffee after taste. Leanne opted for a Magic Rock Pith Head (4.5%) which was a radler style beer. This has big hits of lemon and lime making for an ultra refreshing beer, almost like a juice. It was a bit tangy but in that thirst quenching, refreshing kind of way.
Three drinks in and it was time for some food. On offer there was Pizza from Pizza Fella, street food and stews from Grub and Grog and what we chose, Fish and Chips from Fish&. We picked a Sharing Box for two which consisted of three types of battered fish pieces with chips. The batters were your regular fish shop batter, a salt and pepper and a sweet chilli batter. We both agreed that the salt and pepper one was the best.
Time for another drink. I had Summer Wine Brewery Diablo (6%) in a bottle for the first time a few weeks ago and after going on about how good it was I convinced Leanne to try it on keg. The problem was that this was served far too cold so none of the big tropical flavours could come through. I’d built it up and it just didn’t deliver on this occasion. I’ll get her to try it again at Indy Man Beer Con this weekend.
For those who were not big beer fans the mill also had wines from Guest Wines or gin based drinks from Portobello Road Gin Bar. The gin drinks seemed really popular. The bar looked pretty cool too.
Down to our final few tokens, I wanted another try of the Five Points IPA (7.1%) as when I had it last at Leeds International Beer Festival it wasn’t tasting its best. At the Five Points bar I was informed that this was Batch 2. (I had Batch 1 previously). Batch 2 was much better but still lacked a little something. I’d be more than happy to sample Batch 3. Leanne went for one of her favourite beers; Five Points Hook Island Red at 6%. This is a red rye ale that is big on the pine flavours with a dry after taste. She loves this so much because it tastes incredible on both keg and cask. She’s spied bottles of this at Belgrave Music Hall and hopes to complete the cask/keg/bottle trio. Hopefully it will taste just as good.
Last but not least I went back to the Liverpool Craft bar to try their West Coast Pale (6.2%). This is their take on an IPA, a hazy amber coloured beer with slight hints of orange peel. I enjoyed this one and would most definitely have it again if I saw it in a pub. Leanne finished on a Wild Beer Bliss (6%). This is an apricot saison that we had in a bottle a few weeks back and both really enjoyed it. On keg the spicy, peppery, fruity flavour really came through. This is a fantastic beer.
Overall we really enjoyed the Brewers Market. There was a great selection of beers which were all reasonably priced. The venue had a great atmosphere and was a nice change from the usual beer festival scenes. There was a good mix of music and a even a live art installation. We look forward to seeing if Canal Mills decide to have another Brewers Market next year…
Simon’s beer of the day – Northern Monk / Weird Beard – Blue Habit 6%
Leanne’s beer of the day – Wild Beer – Bliss 6%