The great British pub might be taking a battering at the moment, with countless closing down each month, but the pub scene in Leeds is still going strong. Whether you like the classic spit and sawdust vibe, or your tastes run a little more modernist, there’s a public house for everyone here.
Leeds is a large, gregarious city, bustling with friendly people. Its brewing tradition goes back a long way: the famous Tetley brewing company was founded in the early nineteenth century and before that, a system of mysterious monasteries turned out beer by the barrel. The brewer’s cart, sloshing with golden amber and pulled by a doughty old carthorse, was a common sight in the Leeds streets of yesteryear, of a piece with the flat cap and the whippet dog.
Today you’ll find a diverse city. Locals and students live here, as do the young and the old, and there are pubs for all comers. Looking for somewhere you can sit by the fire on a cold winter’s evening? Leeds has got it. Looking for a vibrant beer-and-or-cider garden in high summer? Leeds has got that too. And if you’re looking for precision-crafted beers made with love by artistes, you’re in the right city.
Pubs like The Brunswick offer fashionable real ale and craft beer on tap, in a hip environment. Meanwhile, the Grove Inn and Whitelock’s Ale House provide the classic pub atmosphere, and the Refectory is a pub on a grand scale, connected directly to the brewery, where drinkers sit in rows sampling the fine ales by Northern Monk. Whichever destination you choose, you can count on a warm welcome and great company.
Here are our top five favourite pubs in Leeds, curated from a quality shortlist and extensively road-tested by our team. If you like your waterhole less traditional, check out our favourite bars in Leeds.
Here are our picks
The Grove Inn Pub Leeds, Back Row, , Leeds, Yorkshire, LS11 5PL
When looking for some of the best folk music to be found in the north and a hearty local pint, the Grove Inn is the perfect pub.
Northern Monk Refectory LDS, The Old Flax Store, Marshalls Mill, Leeds, LS11 9YJ - Visit now
Northern Monk brewery opens its doors to guests at The Refectory, where a whole range of their beers are available to try. You’ll be drinking alongside the brewers in a unique, brick and wood industrial setting.
Whitelock’s Ale House, Turks Head Yard, Leeds, Yorkshire, LS1 6HB - Visit now
It doesn’t get more old school than Whitelock’s Ale house – it’s the oldest pub in Leeds, dating all the way back to 1715. Here you’ll find real ale and great-quality locally-sourced pub grub, complete with stained glass windows and wooden bar for that true 18th century feel.
Head of Steam, 2 Mill Hill, Leeds, LS1 5DQ - Visit now
The Head Of Steam pub chain is one of the prides of the North, and their Leeds location is one of the best. Based in Mill Hill, one of the oldest parts of the city, here you’ll find a jaw-dropping range of ales, from local faves to imports from as far afield as California.