West Yorkshire’s 10 Best Beers

pints in the sun (500px) HEADING PHOTO

Guest blog post by Neil Walker

The quality of beer being produced in the UK has never been better, with a new wave of craft beer breweries producing exciting, flavoursome, bold beers that are leagues above your average mass produced brew. Add to this some well established breweries who continue to produce fantastic beers as they always have, and you’ve got one of the best beer markets in the World.

What’s even more exciting is that some of the best beer being sold in the UK is being made right here in West Yorkshire.

So here’s my pick of the 10 best beers West Yorkshire has to offer, in a plethora of styles and flavours, from the counties hero brewers.

1. 1872 Porter 6.5%
Elland Brewery, Elland
This beer has become something of a modern classic in recent years, representing one of the most true-to-style Porter’s on the market in the UK, with a recipe that dates from (you guessed it) 1872.
Not as heavy as a Stout, this dark Porter style beer is rich and smokey with aromas of vintage port, charcoal and coffee all backed up by a laundry list of flavours including dark chocolate, burnt caramel, toasted malt and rich bitter espresso coffee. It’s particularly good when the weather outside turns cold, with the 6.5% ABV helping to warm your cockles, and was voted ‘Champion Winter Beer of Britain 2010’ by CAMRA.

2. Station Best Bitter 4.2%
Mallinsons, Huddersfield
Huddersfield micro brewery Mallinsons are brew fanatics – with a dizzying array of beers available at any one time and something exciting constantly in the pipeline, they make it hard to pick a favourite. I’ve chosen Station as its my favourite of their permanent brews, and is the beer you are most likely to find on the bar. Don’t let the words ‘Best Bitter’ fool you though, this is a world away from boring brown beer.
A pale golden bitter with bags of zesty citrus hop flavour and aroma, a refeshing, quenching finish and a distinctive freshness of flavour – a fantastic modern British Bitter.

Rapture Red Hop 500 wide

3. Rapture Red Hop Ale 4.6%
Magic Rock Brewing, Huddersfield
This brand spanking new brewery (launched June 2011) produce hoppy, bold beers unashamedly inspired by the American Craft beer scene, where big flavours, high ABV’s, and bucket loads of hops are the norm.
Magic Rock’s Rapture Red Hop Ale balances aromatic, citrussy American hops on top of a biscuity malt body to create a bonafied flavourfest, as brash as the Yanks themselves.
Fans of hoppy amber ales, such as 5am Saint from BrewDog, should give this one a try.

4. Triple Chocoholic 4.8% (Stout)
Saltaire Brewery, Saltaire
Chocolate? and Beer!?
Trust me, it works.
This rich Stout is brewed with Chocolate Malts, real chocolate pieces and even a little chocolate syrup, to create an indulgent yet surprisingly drinkable beer that delivers a triple-threat choco treat (try saying that after a few pints), with hints of coffee and smoke balancing against that body of super smooth chocolate.
It’s an unsusual sounding beer that doesn’t actually taste as weird as you might think, take the plunge and give it a try.

5. Black Band Porter 5.5%
Kirkstall Brewery, Leeds
This new brewery, based on Kirkstall road in Leeds, have already made quite a splash with their beers being very well recieved in some of the areas best pubs, and their Black Band Porter winning ‘Beer of The Festival’ at the recent Skipton Beer Festival.
A different take on ‘Porter’ to the Elland 1872, this beer is a little bit lighter but still has bags of flavour, making it hugely drinkable – with flavours of milk chocolate and roasted coffee, finishing clean and dry, begging you to take another sip.

6. Mary Jane 3.5% (Pale Ale)
Ilkley Brewery, Ilkley
Ilkley Brewery have established themselves as experts in ‘session strength’ hoppy Pale Ales – Beers that are big on flavour but relatively low on alcohol – meaning you can have a few pints without putting too much of a wobble in your walk.
Mary Jane has become their flagship beer, a light straw coloured Pale Ale that tastes much bigger than it’s ABV would suggest, with loads of citrus hop aroma and flavour coming from the use of American Amarillo hops, a slight hint of bready malt and a refreshing, citrus hop finish. A perfect session beer.

7. Diablo IPA 6%
Summer Wine Brewery, Holmfirth
India Pale Ale’s, or IPA’s for short, were originally brewed with high alcohol content and extreme amounts of hops (a natural preservative) to help them survive the long boat journey from England to the famously thirsty British Raj in India.
True to style, this beer tips the scales at a formiddable 6% and is absolutely jam packed full of American hops, giving it a wonderful tropical fruit aroma, flavours of grapefruit, passionfruit and orange citrus, and a satisfying and distinctive IPA bitterness. Fans of hoppy beers will love this.


8. Gyle 479 8.9% (Oak Aged Vintage Ale)
Leeds Brewery, Leeds
Leeds Brewery beers are a welcome site on bars throughout the county, but this a beer you might not have seen, and which marks a bold move into the bottled craft beer market.
Gyle 479, a rich mohoganny-plum hued Vintage Ale, is matured in Oak Single Malt Islay Whisky Casks giving it a unique smoky vanilla aroma and flavours of sweet sultana and cherry with a spicy, dry aftertaste.
This beer ages beautifully, so my advice is to buy a few of the impressive swing top bottles now and save them for Christmas.

9. Landlord 4.3% (Strong Pale Ale)
Timothy Taylor, Keighley
Probably Keighley’s most famous export, Timothy Taylor’s Landlord is a classic for a reason, and apparently Madonna’s favourite beer.
Landlord is a perfect example of why British Cask beer can truly be a thing of beauty. Perfectly balanced, subtle yet flavoursome, drinkable yet complex, it ticks all a beer drinkers boxes. Served at the right temperature (not too cold), and in good condition, it’s a damn near perfect pint.

10. Citra 4.2% (Golden Ale)
Ossett Brewery, Ossett
Ossett brewery make a range of great beers which, in combination with their lively brewery owned pubs, aim to attract younger drinkers to the “Real Ale Revolution”.
Named after the single hop used in it’s brewing, Citra is a riot of tropical fruit aromas and pithy grapefruit flavours, all combined in a juicy, hugely drinkable Pale Ale. It’s a relatively new beer thats only available in Ossett pubs at the moment, but it’s so good I could see them making it a part of their permanent range. Fingers crossed.

So there you have it. Ten great beers from ten great breweries, all based in West Yorkshire.
We’re a lucky lot aren’t we?

Guest blogger Neil Walker also writes www.eatingisntcheating.blogspot.com A foodie beer blog about the best things in life: Craft Beer, Real Ale, Food and all things tasty.


  1. And where can we purchase such delights? I’d never been aware of the Gyle before and must, must buy some. Is it the sort of thing Beer Ritz will carry, or do we have to visit the brewery in person?

    1. The 1872 porter is now available in bottles it has gone to a deli belge in sowerby bridge, taste fine wines in almondbury and a real ale off liscence in newark north nottingham at the moment.

      I will keep updating the Elland brewery Facebook page on the supply of bottles. E mail the brewery let me know where you live and I will try and direct you to the cask porter

  2. what? nothing on the list from naylors, or old bear? i like ilkley brewery but mary jane certainly not the best they do by a long shot. think rodhams and briscoe would make it in to my top ten brewers (Both very small operations)

  3. mike i believe abbey inn had gyle on draft for their leeds beers fest, beer ritz prob your best chance for that one – and pop into arcadia while that side of town

  4. Naylor’s Cravenbrau for me. Great beer using lager hops for a v light and refreshing tipple which is perfect for summer or the transition between lager-boy and man-beer.

    Great article. Will certainly check out a few of these breweries I’ve not heard of before.

  5. burley street brewhouse and wharf bank both deserve honerable mentions but missing off little valley is near unforgivable. nothing against mallinsons or ossett but with competion like it is they wouldnt make my top ten. and id argue for the recent licorice stout from saltaire being just slightly nicer than the tripple choc stout – but happy to agree to disagree on that one.

  6. Thanks for all your comments guys.

    This article was written as my personal pick of ten great beers from Yorkshire, and my main aim was to highlight some interesting beers and breweries that people should try. Unfortunately there are bound to be some beers that didn’t make it into the list, but can’t please everybody all of the time!

  7. respect neil , west yorkshire has far too many great beers for any list to be definative. 2 on your list id describe as good not great but given your enthusiasm am willing to give them another chance. and will def have to track down some magic rock brews. feel like id need do more ‘research’ before i drew up a list myself, would be nice to see a similar list of north yorkshire brewers.

  8. I didn’t know magic rock beers have been launched yet. Where did you manage to try them?

  9. Interesting to note that 8 of the beers are relative new kids on the block with Landlord and 1872 representing the old guard. Probably says a lot about the improving beer scene in West Yorkshire but we should remember the consistency of the established brewers.

  10. A nice list, Neil. There are a lot of breweries in Yorkshire, as rightly stated above, but there is some real innovation happening too. This innovation will push forward beer in our fair county, and although I’m all for ‘the consistency of established brewers’ as stated by John and Steve, the balance between this consistency – and an environment and market for brewers to push beer forward – will make Yorkshire a brewing hotspot.

  11. Good mix of styles and breweries, Neil, and excellent tasting notes as always.

    I’m of course massively jealous that you’ve got to try the Magic Rock beer: I’ll just have to wait until the launch nights at The Grove and North.


  12. Neil, before posting reviews such as this, I recommend you use a ‘spell check’. The spelling errors are numerous.

  13. Interesting coming back to this list 2 years on, the newer beers on list I was sceptical about now certainly among my favs. And the old guard of beers I was disappointed weren’t on list well I can now see why they weren’t. Still a lot of personal favs missing but beers there im no major fan of def deserve place as cracking examples of their style.

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