Mention Tetley’s Brewery to people in Leeds, and for some it’s quite an emotional topic to raise. I’ve seen a look of sadness and betrayal on some faces, anger and defiance on others. All this still felt, 7 years after the brewery closed it’s Leeds operation. But, something new and exciting is happening, which may help to put away those ghosts of the past.
Leeds Brewing Heritage
It was only a couple of months ago, I found myself in Lithuania, talking to a large group of people about the history and heritage of Leeds brewing. The talk was accompanied by a tasting session of Leeds Brewery beers, and a picture guide of what was once the largest brewery in the North – Tetley’s Brewery.
Founded in 1822 by Joshua Tetley, Tetley’s Brewery spent almost the next 200 years defining the brewing landscape in Leeds. Here are some interesting snippets of information you may not know. In the mid-19th century, Tetley’s was the largest brewery in the North of England. A century later, Tetley’s owned over 500 pubs. By the 1980’s, Tetley’s could claim to be the largest brewer of cask ale in the world!
Some real accolades there, and one that caught the attention of Carlsberg, who bought Tetley’s in 1998. Disappointingly for many fans of the brewery, despite all that history, Carlsberg decided to close the brewery in 2011. Brewing operations instead moved to Wolverhampton. It was a sad time for the brewing heritage of Leeds, and one that was widely felt across the city’s communities.
However, despite those challenging times, what has happened since then has driven Leeds, once again, to the forefront of brewing in the UK
Just a Few Breweries, Then?
At my count, today we have 25 breweries in the Leeds metropolitan area. The scene is thriving, and each brewery contributing to quality and choice for the beer drinkers of, not just Leeds, but the wider UK.
Since 2007, there’s been one brewery that’s arguably carried the flag for brewing in Leeds. At 11 years of age and Leeds’ oldest brewery (but still very young in comparison to Tetley’s!) Leeds Brewery has been driving a quality range of core beers, that are readily available across the city. Leeds Pale is also arguably the modern-day replacement to guaranteed cask lines that would have once upon a time carried Tetley’s instead.
So, when I heard about a press and industry gathering at the Tetley in Leeds, with rumours of Leeds Brewery and the Carlsberg Tetley’s brand doing something together, I had to go!
A New/Old Era for Tetley’s
As I entered the conference, I was greeted warmly be Sam Moss, owner of Leeds Brewery, and introduced to Andrew Kenyon, a Tetley’s Master Brewer who oversees beer quality. Clearly, then, this is going to be a big deal!
Also, in attendance were Emily Hudson, the Brand Manager for Tetley’s, and Liam Newton, Vice President of Marketing the Carlsberg Group, amongst many others.
As we settled down to listen to each of the speakers, the purpose of the afternoon became quickly very clear. It was to not only share the new branding that Tetley’s is going to have, but also an exciting project that Carlsberg and Leeds Brewery will embark on, to resurrect classic Tetley’s beer recipes.
Tetley’s Pale No.3
Let’s start with the branding then. No more huntsman logo for Tetley’s. It could be quite “polarising” I was told when I probed about this outside of the presentation. And, although Carlsberg was neutral around the fox hunting image that it gives off, it’s a brave move to do away with an image that is so iconically associated with Tetley’s.
Instead, the brand for the original cask ale, and the glasses, is the Tetley’s family crest. Interestingly, this served as the brand for far longer than the huntsman. But, I’m sure there’s not that many around who’ll remember Tetley’s pre-huntsman. It’s a lovely nod to the heritage.
Although the re-brand is exciting in itself, there’s no change to where the brewing of the core beers will take place. The Tetley’s Original Cask and Golden beers will continue to be brewed in Wolverhampton. However, the really exciting part is the work Carlsberg and Leeds Brewery are doing together, to bring back some of the original Tetley’s recipe beers.
Leeds Brewery have been given access to the Tetley’s brewing archive, and also the original Tetley’s yeast strain that so famously gives Tetley’s beer it’s unique flavour. Read that sentence again, and let it sink in. Tetley’s beer is going to be brewed in Leeds again.
And, the passion and excitement from Sam about the opportunity Leeds Brewery have been given, was infectious. “This is a genuinely exciting project; who gets to delve into 180 years of brewing history?” Sam declared with a glint in his eye. “It’s important we remain as true to the original recipes as possible” Sam added, which the accessibility to the Tetley’s yeast strain fully enables.
The outcome? The first Tetley’s beer to be brewed in Leeds for almost a decade. And, an original Tetley’s recipe at that – Tetley’s Pale No. 3.
“This beer was originally brewed between 1848 and 1868” Sam went on to say. “Joshua Tetley died in 1859, so he could have actually drank this beer”. A beer full of history, and with potential links direct to the man who founded the original brewery.
On to Something Special
The Tetley’s Pale No. 3 is a great beer. The Tetley’s yeast profile is prevalent. This is supported by all English malt and hop ingredients (pale malt with East Kent Goldings and Brewer’s Gold hops). The yeast profile almost gives it the farmhouse flavour the modern drinker would associate with a Belgian farmhouse ale. Delicious.
Whatever your opinions are of what happened to Tetley’s in Leeds in the past, put them to one side. This is a truly exciting project that will hopefully prove to be popular and give us a taste of what generations before us were drinking in Leeds. I believe, this is very special!If you enjoy reading our content, please consider sharing with your friends using the sharing buttons at the bottom of each post. Also, you can subscribe to receive notifications about new blog posts via email. Simply enter your email address into the 'Subscribe to Mike's Tap Room' box at the top left of this page.