2006 was the year that I moved to England because I was going to be attending university there. Specifically the city of Leeds became my home for the next several years. And much like most first year students I stayed in a residence hall. The first residence hall I moved into was Kirkstall Brewery. Indeed karma has come around. Just as the name suggests it was an old brewery that had been converted into a residence. The story of which I decided to tell you in this article.
The brewery has a heritage that goes back to the 12th century. The Cistercian monks established an abbey at Kirkstall and decided to incorporate a brewery in their new premises. In 1833 the original Kirkstall Βrewery was built and started operating under the supervision of Tomas Walken. It over looked the Aire river and the monastery. Its buildings spread over a wide area along the Leeds-Liverpool canal. In 1845, the company was acquired by the Benjamin Dawson C.A. Although the brewery seems to have operated prior to 1831, it wasn’t officially registered until 1871.
Since 1898 the brewery had been producing about 72,000 barrels of beer annually. The beer was sold in Leeds, the Yorkshire region and beyond, and had offices in London. The brewery was especially known for its exports to Australia and New Zealand. It used the channel system and barges to transport barrels easily for loading onto ships for the exports.
In the building of the old brewery, and current university residence known as the “Warehouse”, where I lived, it is possible to see the doors just above the water level. These were the same doors that were used to load the barrels of beer onto the riverboats.
In 1899 the company was reestablished with new headquarters, and operated until it was bought out by the Dutton Empire of Whitbread &Co. Ltd in 1953. The brewery was re-equipped and continued to produce beer for the Yorkshire region and its production went up to a quarter million barrels a year up to 1983 when the brewery closed down, bringing an end to the 150 year brewing tradition of Kirkstall Valley.
The Kirstall brewery buildings remained empty and unused for many years until the late 90’s when they were given a new lease. An ambitious plan to create the Kirkstall Brewery Student Village that was undertaken by Leeds Metropolitan University.
Several years have passed since then and while I may have stayed at the old brewery merely a year and nearly six in the city of Leeds it wasn’t until I eventually got involved with beers that I realized that the story doesn’t simply end. Twenty eight years after its closing the new Kirkstall Brewery reopened in June of 2011 to revive a long tradition of brewing in the Kirkstall area. It provides inspiration to make its name known once again for good quality beer. Almost three decades later the name is being revived, although on a much smaller scale, thanks to an ambitious beverage importer who decided to expand into beer production. The man behind this undertaking is Steve Holt, who has a wealth of experience in the beer industry.
He is the founder of Vertical Drinks in 2003, which is the main European importer and distributor of the Sierra Nevada beers as well as other California beers, he also manages sales and marketing for a number of other beers in the United Kingdom. Vertical Drinks Ltd, will also be responsible for the sales and marketing of the Kirkstall Brewery labels. All this with the support of Dave Sanders, who is known in the field from Elland brewery. Currently the production is limited to 21 barrels while its selection includes the following labels: Kirkstall Pale Ale 4.0% abv, Three Swords 4.5% abv, Black Band Porter 5.5%abv and Dissolution IPA 5.0%abv.
Fortunately the brewery was built with specifications that will allow for expansion, so that in the near future production can be increased to 32 barrels.
Kirkstall brewery is the last brewery that is introduced to a market once dominated by Tetley. The success of Leeds in the brewing market cannot be questioned and it has indeed proven to be a motivator since pubs and bars are opening in the area despite the departure of Carlsberg-Tetley.
Φωτογραφίες: yha, goodfoodgoodbeer, newstudent
This post is also available in: Greek
Η Δανάη Μαργαριτίδη έχει πτυχίο Διοίκησης Επιχειρήσεων και μεταπτυχιακό τίτλο Δημοσίων Σχέσεων του Πανεπιστημίου του Λιντς. Γύρισε στην πατρίδα εξαιτίας της εμπιστοσύνης της στην δύναμη που δείχνουμε ως λαός στα δύσκολα και της αγάπης για τους δικούς της ανθρώπους. Τον τελευταίο καιρό κάποια μοίρα της παίζει "ένα παιχνίδι" και η Ζωή την έφερε σε επαφή με την μπύρα..
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