Head of Steam, Headingley

EatsLeeds Head of Steam Review - Beer

*UPDATE: Since this review, Head of Steam have expanded their range to include gluten-free beers 

We visited Head of Steam’s new venue in Headingley recently, a few days after it first opened. Head of Steam now have thirteen venues across Yorkshire and The Northeast, including their existing Leeds City Centre venue, which opened in 2014.EatsLeeds Head of Steam Review

Head of Steam in Headingley is much bigger than their City Centre venue, with a more sensible layout. The circular bar and hanging glass bottles in Leeds look impressive but actually take up a lot of space whilst adding little to the speed of service or atmosphere of the venue. Headingley has a more traditional bar against one wall, with plenty of space for seating at various tables. There is a restaurant area upstairs (run by Longhorn’s Barbeque Smokehouse – The menu looks great for meat-eaters, but probably isn’t my cup of tea). They have continued the cyclical display of glass bottles, but here they prettily light up the stairway. EatsLeeds Head of Steam Review - Ceiling Lights

The building has previously been home to a variety of short-lived cocktail bars, all a bit bland and sticky feeling, so I was pleasantly surprised by Head of Steam’s total refit of the venue. It now has a more traditional pub feel, with a mix of wooden tables, and seats in cracked-leather and country-style tweed fabric, giving the venue a rustic feel. Exposed Edison bulbs, industrial metal display shelves and an impressive collection of branded beer signs, hung on the walls amongst a few artsy photo prints, give the venue a bit of edge, and sets the decor apart from being a generic ‘rustic pub’ venue.EatsLeeds Head of Steam Review - Table and Chairs

When we arrived, on a midweek early evening, the bar was already buzzing with a crowd of students and young professionals. The craft beer movement has brought a move away from loud bars offering 241 cocktails, and Head of Steam caters for this crowd of younger beer-drinkers. Arcadia had previously been the only place in Headingley offering a really good range of beer (and is still a firm favourite of mine), but the addition of Head of Steam offers a wider choice of venues, and creates space for a different beer-drinking crowd.EatsLeeds Head of Steam Review - Bar Lights

There was one big problem for me with the new Head of Steam venue. The bar carries a really strong range of beer on cask, keg and in the fridges, so I thought they might have a gluten-free option available. When I enquired, I was offered a bottle of Flying Dog’s Gonzo, an imperial stout. I was thrilled, as I love a good stout, and so I was also surprised not to have heard that it was gluten free before. Foolishly, I took the drink without question and it was absolutely beautiful – really thick, with a caramelly, burned sugar flavour and a rich, fruity backnote. Unfortunately, it was not gluten free. I got suspicious after drinking (and enjoying) most of it and, on reading the label, found that it was brewed with wheat. Suffice to say that my stomach did not enjoy the rest of the evening. I’ll happily drink a cider or glass of wine the next time I visit Head of Steam.*EatsLeeds Head of Steam Review - Beer

Besides that, the venue is pretty nice. The staff are friendly, and their range of beers is quite extensive, with a focus on Belgian and American styles, and the menu boasts a selection of classic and prosecco cocktails, all at £6 a pop, as well as four individually priced ‘beer cocktails’, which sound really interesting. Head of Steam expands the craft beer and real ale scene of Headingley, offering a new venue for drinkers in the suburb.

*UPDATE: Since this review, Head of Steam have expanded their range to include gluten-free beers

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