There’s so much choice in UK pubs that drinkers can be left transfixed in a state of option anxiety. Yet for non-drinkers most British pubs are rubbish. There’s a solitary line of Beck’s Blue in the fridge if you’re lucky, and if not you’re left choosing between a cloying fruit-based drink, or variations on a theme of water.
This is why the North Bar in Leeds makes such a refreshing change.
I used to come to this place even when I was a drinker – it managed to offer a great range of interesting beers without crossing the line into pretentiousness. But it was only when I cut out the alcohol that I found they had the alcohol-free side of things covered exceedingly well, too.
Its glazed shop-style frontage immediately sets its apart from the secretive taverns typical of the UK. This leads into a narrow and deep venue with continental cafe-esque seating. It’s a layout that creates a convivial atmosphere, where you feel comfortable leaning over to people you’ve never met and saying things like “They have quite a wide selection of beverages here, don’t they?”
Choice of Reason
Behind the bar is a bank of fridges contains so many bottled drinks they almost demand labelling with their own Dewey Decimal System. And alongside high alcohol content beer like Tsar Imperial Russian Stout (9.5%) are three alcohol-free beers. Seriously, three. I have an actual decision to make – crazy times.
As if that isn’t enough, they also have a chin-stroking breadth of choice in the ginger beer category, plus the full range of the excellent Fentimans soft drinks and mixers. Oh, and everyone’s favourite Germolene substitute – root beer. On top of this they also do tea and coffee.
Here’s a full-ish list:
- Jever Fun alcohol-free beer (0.5%)
- Erdinger alcohol-free wheat beer (0.5%)
- Schneider Weisse alcohol-free wheat beer (0.3%)
- San Pellegrino Chinotto
- Blenheim Ginger Ale – Hot
- Blenheim Ginger Ale – Not as Hot
- Goose Island Ginger Ale
- Goose Island Root Beer
- Fentimans soft drinks and mixers
- Tea / Coffee
The staff are friendly, they really know their stuff, and they don’t pass judgement on your choice.
As publican Matt Gorecki says: “We’re interested in all drinks really, it’s a bit of a misconception that North is a ‘beer bar’ in reality we love all types of drinks and we try and the the highest quality and most interesting selection in all categories.”
“We’re particularly inspired by the way the US approaches soft drinks and the variety that’s out there. Although I still haven’t managed to get any cucumber soda yet!”
“The main thing is to appeal to as broad a selection of people as possible and that means offering a good non-alcoholic selection – some of the German beers are really high quality and we have them front and centre rather than as an afterthought.”
The UK can be a rubbish place to go out at night if you’re a non-drinker. But if you’re the Leeds’ area, the North Bar is a star worth setting your compass by.
The North Bar, 24 New Briggate, Leeds, UK. There are also branches in the Leeds suburbs of Meanwood and Chapel Allerton.
Do you know of a bar or pub which can match the North Bar for its alcohol-free drinks?