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29th June 2022

The bar that started it all: The ‘first craft beer bar in the UK’, North Bar in Leeds, turns 25

North Bar in Leeds is turning 25 this July and they’re kicking off the celebrations with a birthday party to remember in Leeds.

North Bar opened in Leeds in 1997. John Gyngell and Christian Townsley took over a long, narrow unit on New Briggate and started building a bar. In the early days, the beer selection was much less adventurous than in 2022… They sold Kronenbourg, Guinness and lots of Beamish Red. However, they started to build a reputation for brilliant service and great music in quirky surroundings. And the drinks selection quickly improved!

A trip to Belgium in the early 2000s opened their minds to what beer could be, and they started asking distributors to import the beers that they’d tried. They branded themselves as a ‘world beer bar’ (cool at the time, sounds a bit naff now) and started to play.

It wasn’t long until North’s reputation for bringing beers from around the world and serving them in the relaxed and welcoming environment grew. They helped to launch international breweries including Erdinger Weisse Bier, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Brooklyn Lager, alongside modern craft breweries emerging in the UK such as Magic Rock and Northern Monk.

North Bar has been pivotal in shaping the craft beer scene in the UK through their exciting, innovative beer lists, regular programme of events and beer festivals, and commitment to top quality table service. Throughout the past 25 years they have grown to a joyful family of 8 bars and taprooms, opening their own brewery in 2015.

To celebrate their 25th birthday they have lined up a weekend of festivities.

North have curated an incredible taplist with beers that have inspired their journey over the past 25 years: From Brouwerij Kee’s iconic Caramel Fudge Stout, to collaborations brewed with Sierra Nevada, Roosters and North Brewing Co.

Saturday sees Garrett Oliver, founder and brewmaster from The Brooklyn Brewery host a sold out beer tasting to celebrate the long standing relationship between North Bar and the brewery. Tickets for this event sold out in 24 hours, raising £500 for North’s partner charity, St George’s Crypt. In addition to this, Erdinger will be visiting from Germany to provide a ‘beer champagne’ reception on the Saturday at 6pm.

Local independent spirits and wine supplier, Latitude, have curated a cocktail passport showcasing North classics. Customers can take their completed passports to Latitude throughout July for a 10% instore discount.

DJs from parties past and present will be digging into their vinyl collections playing all weekend, and Sunday sees a proper North style ‘Recovery Sunday’ with hot coffee, spicy Bloody Marys and a pop up from Doghouse Bagel Shop.

1st July – 3rd July

North Bar
24 New Briggate,

Opening hours
Sun – Tues: 11am – 12am
Wed – Thurs: 11am – 1am
Fri – Sat: 11am – 2am

Company Bio
North Bar was opened by John Gyngell and Christian Townsley in Leeds in 1997 with the shared vision of blending global craft beer and local breweries, interesting wines and spirits, great quality food, and eclectic music and art. North Bar quickly became renowned for its alternative approach, quirky style and excellent, friendly service – winning the prestigious ‘Best place to drink in Britain’ in the Observer Food Monthly Awards in 2006.

They have since expanded the North Bar family of bars to eight venues in Leeds and the surrounding area: from Preston Bar nestled in leafy Oakwood, to the cycling hub at North Bar Social in Otley, to their slick city centre taproom on Sovereign Square.

In 2015 they founded North Brewing Co; a global brewery, with an independent heart, born out of a love of food, drink and hospitality.

At North they brew beers that excite them: From clean, crisp Pilsners to be drunk in the sun, to hazy hoppy IPAs, to twists on traditional cask styles. They have been invited to showcase their beers across the world, pouring at festivals in Berlin, Shanghai and California, with their beers being sold in over 30 countries. They have collaborated with breweries from Cornwall to Brooklyn, playing an integral role in shaping the modern beer scene in the UK.

In 2021 North relocated to Springwell, a 21,000 square foot brewery in North Leeds. The site at Springwell produces 2.8 million pints of beer a year and is home to their flagship taproom. The taproom showcases their beers alongside street food, a considered low and no alcohol list, and North’s keg cocktails. A regular program of events including art fairs, pop up film screenings and tap takeovers and beer launches, attracts people to the area, and has enabled Springwell to quickly integrate into the local community.

In 2022 North launched Field Recordings – an experimental brewery drawing upon their rich history with beer. These limited edition beers are released across the country at specialist craft beer bars and bottle shops.

Facts and Figures

Company name: North Brewing Co / North Bar

Founders: John Gyngell, Christian Townsley

Head Brewer: Seb Brink

Date founded: 1997 (North Bar Ltd), 2015 (North Brewing Co)

Number of venues: 8

Number of employees: 85-100

Annual production: 16000 HL (2.8 million pints)


Press release from North

Media contact: Sarah Hardy, Head of Marketing,