Home > Beer > BrewDog Leeds: The best-laid schemes o’ dogs an’ men…

BrewDog Leeds: The best-laid schemes o’ dogs an’ men…

Loiners are quite blessed when it comes to the craft beer on-trade, what with the North Bar group, Mr Foleys, Arcadia and the other Market Town Taverns, and the Leeds Brewery pubs. Nonetheless, it was exciting to see that BrewDog were hoping to open a small Leeds bar behind the Corn Exchange, especially given how much I enjoyed visiting BrewDog Glasgow.

However, as you may be aware, BrewDog failed to get their licence at a Licensing Sub-Committee hearing on 6 February. Thanks to the Council Website (and @ewanmitchell pointing me in the right direction), you can read the outcome of the hearing here.

In short, the reasons for the refusal were given as follows:

Whilst the concept of the bar and style of operation were welcomed, it was noted that the premises were within a violent crime hotspot within the Cumulative Impact Policy area. The Sub-Committee were regrettably not persuaded that the application would not add to the impact in the area, despite the undoubted experience of the operator.

This followed submissions from the West Yorkshire police that:

The premises was located in a violent crime hotspot within the Cumulative Impact area which was not covered by the Leedswatch CCTV system. Whilst much work had been done to try to address this, there were many problems and issues in that area. An additional concern was that Brew Dog would be likely to attract different people to it rather than those already using the area, therefore drawing additional people into the area which could exacerbate the problems there.

And @brewdogbarbruce‘s address to the sub-committee:

Mr Gray addressed the Sub-Committee in relation to his style of operation, indicating that he would hope to be a positive influence on the area by educating people to a different way of drinking. He informed the Sub-Committee that staff training was extensive and thorough and that customers were not allowed to become drunk.

Bruce’s witness statement also expands on the ethos of appreciation and education regarding beer, whilst noting that one of their other bars, BrewDog Edinburgh on Cowgate, is in an area associated with heavy drinking and a crime hotspot. Bruce’s statement is especially interesting in this comment regarding the Camden application:

…the local council were hesitant to grant the application, however once our concept was discussed with them the opinion (of both the police and the Committee) was that our concept is far more likely to decrease excessive drinking and antisocial behaviour than contribute to existing problems and hence the variation was granted. We have since had a great response both from local residents and Police.

I don’t intend to comment on the matter myself, but I think there’s an interesting debate to be had here: does an ethos of beer appreciation simply mitigate the damage done by another premises selling alcohol in an already-busy part of town, or can it actively improve the area? Does the calming influence of the beer geek pour hop oil on troubled waters?  Or, several thirds down, are we really just as antisocial as the rest, as this story might suggest?

From a selfish perspective, I admit to being a bit miffed that (at present) it appears I won’t be able to enjoy the BrewDog beers and other interesting imported beers that BrewDog Leeds would have stocked whilst claiming my Equity For Punks discount. At the same time I will admit that I probably wouldn’t have been visiting on a Saturday night very often, simply because I don’t find that end of town a particularly nice place to be when it’s packed with weekend revellers.

UPDATE: BrewDog appealed the decision and won at a hearing in Leeds Magistrates Court on 6 September 2012, as discussed here.  The bar opened in March 2013 and my review from the first week is here.

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  1. February 29, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    “The police had names for the Cowgate when it got like this: Little Saigon; the blood bank; Hell on Earth. Even the patrol cars went in twos.” [Ian Rankin]

    In fairness, it’s not as bad now as in Inspector Rebus’ time. The Cowgate fire took out a couple of the major nightspots, the rest have calmed down. It does still have an edge though – there are plenty of stag parties and soforth that cruise around, but the BrewDog bouncers keep them out, and the staff inside the bar are arguably the friendliest and most helpful in the city. I’ve never seen anyone inebriated inside (other than the cheerfully drunk). BrewDog deserve a lot of credit in this regard…

    • February 29, 2012 at 2:06 pm

      I was impressed with the attitude of the barstaff in both Glasgow and Edinburgh BrewDog bars. There’s a lot to be said for good, enthusiastic, well-trained staff.

  2. February 29, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    Your last point rings true with me, too. I must admit, I wouldn’t generally be down ‘that end of town’ on a weekend night. Much too busy for me. It is a shame, however, in general, I think. Like I alluded to on Twitter a few weeks back when we discussed this, I’ve been told by numerous pub and restaurant people that Leeds is generally notoriously hard for granting liscences. A shame that the same can’t be said about Subway, Betting shops or Cash For Gold, eh?

    • February 29, 2012 at 6:40 pm

      I know I guy who used to do door security in Swindon and he said the worst job was Subway – the amount of extreme violence that kicked off in there after pubs had closed was quite horrific but, as you say, they don’t seem to have much trouble getting a new shop opened.

  3. February 29, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    “Does the calming influence of the beer geek pour hop oil on troubled waters?” Ah… that’ll be ‘a way with words’.

    Doesn’t sound, on the evidence above, as if the license was rejected on a knee-jerk basis, at least, but then what do I know about (a) licensing or (b) Leeds. (Nothing.)

    • March 2, 2012 at 5:41 pm

      The reasons for the decision, short as they are, did seem to concede that it wasn’t just going to be like any other bar.

  4. February 29, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    It is a shame but it sounds like BrewDog may have a good chance of getting a licence if they can find premises that isn’t in a ‘violent crime hotspot’ – of course, that’s if their experience hasn’t put them off Leeds entirely.

  5. March 1, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    I heard that they’ve already found another potential venue whilst at the bgbw seminar this week. Can’t recall who told me or where it was to be!

    • March 2, 2012 at 5:40 pm

      I hope they do find a new one if the appeal fails. I’d got my hopes up.

  6. scabthecat
    April 22, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    if there’s another’s potential venue, go try there. behind the corn exchange would be a nightmare. brewdog should be careful what they wish for in filing an appeal. around albion place or the carriage works or in front of old LGI would be more appropriate.

  1. May 6, 2012 at 1:49 pm
  2. September 19, 2012 at 11:13 pm
  3. March 15, 2013 at 11:01 pm
  4. June 19, 2013 at 5:42 pm

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