Leeds welcomes brewers from around the world as the Leeds International Beer Festival returns to the Town Hall for its 8th year. The annual 4-day beer extravaganza, in the heart of the city, celebrates craft beer, showcasing the best in modern and traditional beer styles, brewed both in the UK and overseas.
With so many tasty beers to choose from it’s not hard to have a few too many too soon and miss out on some of LIBF’s best kept secrets. Here are some tips to help you squeeze the most out of this year’s festival.
Low ABVs are on the up
In the past, the choice of low abv (low alcohol) beers was limited to warm, dusty bottles of Becks Blue, usually accompanied by words of contempt and looks of disgust from your drinking buddies. Well, the modern world of craft beer is changing that, with a surge of breweries trying their hand at making some beers that are low on ABV but BIG on flavour. 2019 has seen the comeback of Victorian Table Beers (ooh err), Radlers (tasty beer and fruit juice mixes) and the introduction of session/small pales and IPAs. Often weighing in at below 3.6%, this mix of low ABV beers can provide a refreshing break between the stronger stuff, keeping you on top form throughout the session.
Here’s a few of the low ABV beers on offer this year:
- Bone Machine Brew Co. – Ægisdrekka Session IPA – 3.5%
- Buxton – Low Tor: Peak District Bitter – 3.8%
- Cloudwater – A Monument at Emmanuel Head: Small Pale 3.5%
- Cromarty Brewing Co – Udder Madness: Vanilla Milk Sour – 1.6%
- Northern Monk – Patrons Project 20.01 // Mark Newton: West Coast Routes: Lemon Radler, 2.8%
Share the experience
The best thing about beer festivals? The huge range of ‘out there’ beers to choose from, including some that you’ll never find at your local pub or bottle shop. They’re often high strength special brews, barrel-aged for big bold flavours, with a hefty ABV to match. If you spot a beer with the words BA, Imperial, DIPA, TIPA, Barley Wine be prepared for anything from 8% to 16% ABV.
One of these is essentially the same as a pint of strong wine, so share the love and share a third with friends. Get a couple of different ones and swap after a few sips. This way you can experience more without breaking the bank.
Street food is to beer festivals as Mo Salah is to Sadio Mane, both brilliant in their own right, but damn, they’re good when they’re together. When it comes to street food, LIBF doesn’t disappoint – from Indian delights brought to you by Leeds legends Bundobust, to Korean bao buns from Little Bao Boy and not to be missed Cadillac Jack’s classic burger and fries combo.
If you’re partial to a mixed-meat kebab, give Döner Summer’s delicious Berlin döner a try – a vegan upgrade to the end-of-the-night favourite. If it’s cheesy chips you’re after, head to Blue Caribou Canteen for their authentic French-Canadian poutine.
There’s a beer for everyone, and a dish to go with it. Getting your fill will mean you don’t peak too early so you can enjoy the festival right ‘til the end.
Once you’ve swapped your tokens for that first cold beer, it’s time to check out all that LIBF has to offer. Check out the live music on offer and, head to the tipi on Friday and Saturday night, keep your ears open for a performance from Leeds DIY legends COWTOWN.
For pub quizzes, descend to the crypt below the town hall, and for an experience to remember, the old school jail cells will be unlocked throughout the festival, offering probably the strangest setting to enjoy a pint in Leeds.
All beer-ed out? Head to Cardiff brewers Tiny Rebel’s arcade room and get your fill of free-to-play arcade games. Be sure to pay the glass washroom a visit – it might not sound like the go-to destination for beer-related fun, but the glass washroom offers loads of seating and unlimited tap water. Switch the odd beer for a pint of water and finish this year’s festival with no regrets.