There’s a new beer shop in town. And it’s a beer shop where you can drink in. OK, it has our attention.
Drinking culture in Leeds hundreds of years ago was centred on the many alleyways linking Briggate and Lands Lane. Today, there are still many great pubs in this space, not least The White Swan, The Pack Horse and Whitelock’s. Tall Boys joins this illustrious crowd by opening in Thornton’s Arcade, already home to some great foodie places.
The first thing you’ll notice when you walk in is the phenomenal bottle selection. This is easily the best selection of takeaway bottled beers in the city centre. It’s no rival for Beer-Ritz in Headingley, but it’s not trying to be. Many of the beers come from a handful of awesome breweries from home and abroad, including Mikkeller, Founders, Marble, Beavertown and Odell’s: there must be about 200 individual varieties to choose from. There are also three beers on tap, which are available to take away in growlers. And it’s all very reasonably priced, with most bottles in the £2-4 price range.
As well as the downstairs bottle shop, there’s a small “beer café” upstairs, where you can drink your purchases for a 50p corkage charge. There are a handful of unvarnished tables in a light, airy room with a big window overlooking the arcade. I found it very relaxing up here, but we were there on a working day and I can imagine it could get pretty crowded and noisy at busy times. The décor is “vintage study”: I especially liked the old TV and radio at the top of the shelves downstairs. There’s piped music, good stuff (classic, but not cheesy, indie) and kept at a reasonable volume.
Tall Boys doesn’t have all the amenities of some of our favourite places, but why would it? It’s a bottle shop with a place to drink. And it does what it intends to do very, very well indeed. Welcome, Tall Boys: your arrival is long overdue!
I’ll be back to do a full review, but I popped in to look at the shop and the selection. Most bases are touched on, but there is hardly any Belgian or German beer available, which needs improving. Very little of it was of genuine curiosity but as the reviewer touched on, this was something Leeds city centre was sorely missing. It mainly focuses on US and English craft ales and more traditional English bottled ale. The staff were very friendly and still keen to impress, I felt. The selection of chilled cans and bottles is limited so if people want to drink something chilled they will find their selection one-dimensional and a tad disappointing. Prices are fair, and they should be careful to keep them that way. I’ll be back!