Lonely Planet Writer

Beer, glorious beer: Leeds celebrates Yorkshire brewing heritage with one-off exhibitions

Leeds is cementing its status as a beer-obsessed city this spring with two themed exhibitions that show how entrenched the amber nectar is in Yorkshire culture.

Beer exhibition at Temple Newsam
Temple Newsam is a Tudor-Jacobean house with grounds landscaped by Capability Brown. Photo by: Olaf Protze/LightRocket via Getty Images

The first explores the social history of beer at one of Yorkshire’s greatest country estates, Temple Newsam. This 500-year-old mansion near Leeds has gardens that were landscaped by Capability Brown and is famed as the birthplace of Lord Darnley, who became the husband of Mary Queen of Scots in 1565. Beneath the original Tudor-Jacobean living quarters, which are open to the public, lie vast cellars that once held thousands of gallons of locally brewed beer for both the estate’s workers and the aristocracy who visited the mansion for extravagant banquets. Records show that Temple Newsam had an on-site brewhouse as early as 1520.

‘Beer: a history of brewing and drinking at Temple Newsam’ explores the role that ale played at the estate between about 1650 and 1850, as well as the drink’s place in British culture more broadly during that period. Exhibits show how beer and brewing helped bridge social divides and also the gender divide – one of the characters uncovered during research was Elizabeth Pease, a local female brewer who supplied ale to the estate for more than 30 years during the 18th century.

Craft beers exhibitions begin in Leeds
Leeds beer exhibitions get underway. Photo by : John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

The exhibition includes brewing manuals on loan from Leeds University’s Special Collections archive, as well as historic artworks and drinking vessels. Tours of the cellars, special events and tasting sessions are running in conjunction with the exhibition, which will run until 28 October 2018. To celebrate the show, Leeds’ Northern Monk craft brewery has released a Temple Newsam beer inspired by a 1736 recipe.

Craft beer is the subject of the second exhibition to hit Leeds, ‘Beer by Design’, which launched mid-April at community arts venue Left Bank Leeds and has been created as part of the annual Leeds Indie Food festival (10-28 May). In stark contrast to the Temple Newsam exhibition, this one is a celebration of Yorkshire’s progressive craft beer scene, showing just how much the local industry has evolved in recent years.

John Smith's Brewery worker
John Smith’s Brewery drayman poses with family on his dray, Tadcaster, Yorkshire, c1910. Photo by: Past Pix/SSPL/Getty Images

Contemporary illustrations, design and experimental art from The Brewers Design Society form part of the exhibition, sitting alongside advertising materials from the archives of local breweries. From 10-12 May, beer lovers can time their visit with the LS6 Beer Festival at Left Bank. The venue is based inside a deconsecrated church and during this annual weekend, it celebrates Yorkshire craft brews, accompanied by street food and DJs.

By Lorna Parkes