Canal Mills in Leeds and the post industrial pint

Canal Mills – turning away from textiles
On a return visit to my Yorkshire friends, I found myself in Leeds this weekend at the Canal Mills Brewer’s Market. Formerly a huge business cog in the wheel of the industrial revolution, Maurice Dixon Canal Mills had been in its heyday, a textile mill which manufactured face cloths, flannels, overcoating, velours, blazer cloths, serges and suitings.The giant factory warehouse no longer hums to the sounds of the mechanised weaving machines and you are more likely these days to have your trousers made in Asia than you are in Armley. The old Mill has instead been transformed into a rather funky venue or as they describe themselves:
‘a constantly evolving space for all mediums of creative output, from exhibitions,
pop-up restaurants, live and electronic music events to fashion shows and theatre projects.’

A spirited selection

We went along on the evening of the Brewer’s Market which is an event promoting local and a craft beers. And boy are there a lot of them.

Billions of beers!

BrewDog,  Brooklyn Brewery,  Zapato Brewery,  Fourpure Brewing Co., The Five Points Brewing Company,  Liverpool Craft Beer Expo,  NORTHERN MONK BREW Co.,Wylam Brewery, Cloudwater,  Magic Rock,  Roosters, Thornbridge. To name but a few. Luckily there were also wine, whisky and gin pop ups too (I don’t really like beer) I particularly enjoyed a couple of Gin Collins cocktails made with Bathtub Gin, which was quite helpfully displayed in a bath tub full of yellow rubber ducks.

Bathtub Gin

In the 1920’s the term bathtub gin was coined and referred to any style of homemade spirit made in amateur conditions. As gin was the predominant drink in the 1920s, many variations were created by mixing cheap grain alcohol with water and flavourings. Because the preferred sort of bottle was too tall to be topped off with water from a sink, they were filled from a bathtub tap. It had to be a vessel large enough to supply commercial users, but small enough for the operation to go undetected by the police. The common bathtub used as the time would have been ideal hence the name, ‘bathtub gin’ Many gin cocktails owe their existence to bathtub gin, as they were also created in order to mask the unpleasant taste of the neat spirit. In this case Bathtub Gin is also the name for the fine gin brand we were sampling that evening and jolly tasty it was too.

Global glugging

There were funky DJ type tunes going on, and an interesting mural inspired by the Creature from the Black Lagoon was under construction near the entrance. The artist Bobbi Abbey is a rather talented graphic pop artist and typical of the sort of creative work that the Canal Mills likes to support.

Bobbi and the beast

Interesting street food was in evidence inside and out including Manjit’s Indian Kitchen and the Mac Shac – who know there were so many variations on Macaroni Cheese!

Pimp up your Macaroni!

I also liked the Grub and Grog shop which were serving the trendiest crumpet options ever advertised on a series of different coloured toasters. Toasters as art – I approve!

Cool crumpets

There were other civilised pass times on offer including ping pong (table tennis) and bean bag throwing (I won half a pint of Pumpkin beer with my keen eye hand co ordination.

Pop up pleasure pints!

This kind of initiative is a very creative way to make good use of these huge historic industrial buildings which would otherwise fall into disrepair. You can even hire the building for an event and if you checkout the website you can see what’s coming up next. We had a great night – there was a chilled, friendly atmosphere and everyone was enjoying themselves.  I think it’s a positive move to support local businesses and artists even if I’d rather have a glass of Bolly than a beer myself.. Who needs serge suiting when you can have designer toasted crumpet to go with your designer ale.

Night Life at Canal Mills