Over St. Patrick's weekend I went on a day trip to Leeds, a trip that had much to do with football and very little to do with beer. However, as I was researching any possible stops on our travels I discovered that Brewdog Leeds was opening just two days before out arrival. Sorted.
My first visit to a Brewdog bar was far from ideal, being accompanied by two non-beer drinkers as well as being tired from the drive, flight and the painful football. As such, it was just the one for me. I was planning on having a guest tap initially, but with nothing really inspiring there, I went for a Hardcore IPA, something I should have tried a long time ago. It pours a hazy amber and straight off the bat there are very strong pine notes, as well as a curious underlying bubblegum sweetness. It's very bitter, obviously, but really it's quite balanced. This is because there're some deep chewy malt flavours hinted at beneath the hops, as well as some fruit, but they never get fully realised.
Good, but not quite a Sierra Nevada Torpedo, which is kind of my standard for the style. Still, once the heat around the trendy new bar cools off and the hipster crowd disperses, I imagine Brewdog will be a nice spot for an aftenoon drink.
That was going to be it, but then there was the airport. With around two hours to kill and a bar serving cask ale, I didn't stand a chance. Unable to make my mind up, I went for a platter of 1/3 pints, for the sweet price of £3.75. First up is Theakston's Best Bitter, offering up a subdued malt backbone on the aroma, with a strong nutty, almost woody flavour. The finish has a slight touch of citrus, but overall it's low on everything, remaining just about drinkable. Black Sheep Best Bitter was next, and promised a fairly similar experience, with light fruit and grainy notes throughout, before turning pretty nasty at the finish. Finally, their Golden Sheep was mindblowing. Really, my mind was blown, my perception of cask beer changed forever, by the sheer blandness of this beer. I truly believed that any cask ale was better than a pint of Bud or Amstel, but this really challenges for the prize of world's emptiest beer.
I must stress that all of these were pretty bland, but I think that's down to the clear lack of freshness of the casks. Could have been there weeks for all I know. As such, I don't think it would be fair to judge these beers on this tasting. Still, if you're in Leeds Bradford Airport and craving some craft beer, you may be better off with the over-priced bottles of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Otherwise, ask about the freshness of the casks.
Either way, to even have such a decision to make in what is a pretty small airport still amazes me. Well done LBA.