Ah, Leeds is brilliant. I don’t know of any other British city with a name that demands you repeat it three times when you speak it aloud. Go on, say with me now. Leeds Leeds Leeds.
While the beer in Leeds is first rate, what I love about it most of all is the choice it offers you. Do you wish to drink the finest pint of Landlord, bursting at the seams with condition, and lovingly caressed through a tight sparkler as the gods themselves declared? How about the latest kinky hop sludge, dry-hopped so heavily that it’s served with a knife and fork and a portion of chips (for dipping) on the side? What about a selection of Orval, by year, served by someone who has an award for serving Orval? Leeds really does have it all.
In fact, the only problem I have with Leeds these days is what a creature of habit I’ve become when I visit; meandering to the same locations and drinking the same beers time and again, because I love them dearly. I’m thankful then, that I’ve received a beer from a Leeds brewery I know relatively little about – other than they’ve been recommended to me by friends in the North.
Ridgeside Brewery has been flying under my radar for far too long, having been producing beers in the Leeds suburb of Meanwood since 2010. Despite having a strong reputation back home, they’ve not often been spotted in the wider beer world (e.g. London), and with this beer it feels like they’ve grabbed me by my teeth and screamed for attention.
Picurd – so named for Captain Jean-Luc Picard from well-loved sci-fi show Star Trek: The Next Generation – is a lemon curd sour, featuring lemon juice, vanilla and the opinion-splitting lactose. Hear me out though: it definitely works in this beer. Pouring a totally opaque shade of yellow, you can almost smell the acidity as its foam quickly disperses. At first sip it’s battery acid sharp – like biting into a fresh lemon dipped in pop rocks. But then, a soft, silky sweetness creeps in, reminding you of freshly baked lemon meringue pie.
A nice little dry hop cleans up the finish with a bitter tang. This tantalises you into taking a second sip, and a third. Then, all of a sudden, that sharpness is replaced with a more rounded, approachable acidity. It reminds me of the sour sweets I enjoyed when I was a kid: there’s mouth-puckering pain, but there is also great reward and deliciousness.
I can honestly say it’s the best beer I’ve had named after the erstwhile commander of the Starship Enterprise since I enjoyed Jean-Luc Biere de Garde at Colorado’s Odell Brewing in 2016. If you’re yet to discover Ridgeside, this is a fantastic – if idiosyncratic - place to start. And if you have already discovered them, well then you probably already know this is going to be an absolute belter of a beer. Good old Leeds.
Matthew Curtis is a writer, photographer and editor of Pellicle Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis and @pelliclemag. Stocks are now super-limited but if you’re quick you can pick up a can of Ridgeside Picurd here. To be first to read articles from Matt and our food writer Claire Bullen every month, why not subscribe to our All Killer No Filler subscription box?