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9th June 2017


The much-loved independent venue on New Briggate in Leeds has been at the heart of the craft beer scene in the UK since opening in 1997.

Often referred to as “the first craft beer bar in Britain”, North Bar is credited with influencing a new wave of craft beer bars around the country, with many citing North Bar as one of the original driving forces behind the craft beer revolution in the UK.

Inspired by continental cafe-bars and dismayed by the lack of options available on the Leeds bar scene at the time, directors John Gyngell and Christian Townsley set out to revive the city’s flagging nightlife by opening a friendly drinking spot with a focus on never-before-seen imported beers and excellent service.

“We were working as glass collectors when we discovered Belgian beers like Orval, Duval and Chimay and were completely blown away. We travelled regularly to Belgium, researching beers, bars and the drinking culture, then extended our research to the Netherlands, Germany and the USA”, said Townsley.

The timing of the bar’s opening, and its proximity to two of the UK’s most important importers and distributors of speciality beer (James Clay and Vertical Drinks), meant that North Bar was perfectly placed to spark a revolution in the UK craft beer scene, hosting the UK launches of brands such as Sierra Nevada, Erdinger, Brooklyn and Schneider Weiss and establishing its reputation as a Mecca for beer fans.

Having reported record-breaking turnover for the last financial year as well as winning several national awards in recent months, North Bar remains at the top of its game with no intention of giving up its throne as an industry-leading venue.

Two decades on, it remains the go-to drinking destination for an ‘all killer, no filler’ selection of beers and spirits, with rare finds and new releases continuously landing on the bar.

The next big release to hit the North Bar cellar ahead of the the birthday party will be a special edition 20th anniversary beer brewed at North Brewing Company (launched by Gyngell and Townsley in 2015) in collaboration with Danish brewery Dry and Bitter, whose ‘Hops Not Hate’ fundraising project focuses on donating profits to charity at every point in the supply chain. Proceeds from sales of the collaboration beer will go to local Leeds-based charity St Gemma’s Hospice.

The release of the charity beer will mark the launch of NB20: a year of fundraising activities across all seven North Bar venues in Leeds, Otley and Harrogate, which will see staff and patrons taking part in challenges and events, from barbecues to bike rides, with the aim of raising £20,000 for St Gemma’s.

“We’re really proud of how North Bar has grown and we’re so thankful for the support we’ve received. The love people have for all of our bars is incredible, so we wanted to mark the anniversary by getting as many people involved as possible and giving something back” said Gyngell.

The birthday party on Saturday 1st of July will also see a limited run of 150 NB20 charity party bags being sold in the bar. The specially-designed tote bags will include copies of the 20th anniversary zine which features interviews and illustrations contributed by regulars and members of staff,  as well as T-shirts, beer and other surprises.

The event is open to the public and all North Bar fans are invited to join the celebrations which will run all day until late, with DJs, balloons, cake and free use of the popular photobooth without which no visit to the North Bar would be complete.


Contact: Fran Rackham (Marketing and Events Coordinator)