As one of the newest additions to Thornton’s Arcade, Tall Boys Beer Market successfully straddle the split in modern day drinking culture; the newer custom of retreating to one’s home to enjoy a competitively priced supermarket stock of beer after a hard day’s work, a sad indication of the decline of ‘pub culture’, versus the resurrection of the independent dining and drinking experience in Leeds. This cultural revitalisation is based utterly on the self-sufficiency of a city thriving on a culture of mutual support and enthusiasm from punters and customers (who are often from the same pool). Tall Boys endeavour to re-imagine drinking culture by embracing the recent coveting phenomenon of craft/indie brewed beer, whilst providing both a retail and hospitality service.
Tall Boys endeavour to re-imagine drinking culture by embracing the recent coveting phenomenon of craft/indie brewed beer, whilst providing both a retail and hospitality service.
The market is nestled amongst other independents situated along Leeds’ various arcades which veer off from the high-street-orientated New Briggate, highlighting the strong arcade culture of Leeds city centre. This very much marries the tradition of Leeds drinking culture, once based along perpendicular paths (see The Ship Inn, Whitelocks Ale House), with a new taste for independent establishments. This is echoed in Tall Boys’ approach to drinking; an antidote to the decline of localised drinking culture, which has been largely killed off by convenience shopping and lifestyle changes. They endeavour to make quality beer both appealing and affordable. Tall Boys also offer their take on an age-old tradition of the Growler- reusable and iconic brown vessels which can be refilled with fresh guest ales on tap and taken home old school style. As well as a vast range of bottled beers with enough selection to suit most tastes (discernible or not), their stock includes choices from both local and international breweries who have a likeminded approach to real ale, and let’s face it, bottles so pretty they make cracking emergency vases afterwards!
Leeds based illustrator Jonny Wilkinson aka Idiot’s Pasture is behind the recognisable Tall Boys seal, which projects their image as friendly and simple, with a hint of the rough-and-ready chipboard aesthetic that we see at the likes of Belgrave Music Hall and newer vegetarian canteen and beer cafe Bundobust. The cafe upstairs is now open all week, and encourages customers to stop awhile and enjoy their purchases for a small corkage fee of 50p, taking welcome advantage of the beautiful arching arcade space above the shop, with yet again a simple unvarnished cosy feel.Knocking down the unapproachable wine-sniffing elitism of the archetypal gallery, Tall Boys have instead opened up their first exhibition with northern zine group Broth Tarn.
The cafe also serves as a gallery space for local art work and photography. Knocking down the unapproachable wine-sniffing elitism of the archetypal gallery, Tall Boys have instead opened up their first exhibition with northern zine group Broth Tarn. ‘Northern realism’ soaks right into the wood grain with the group’s various photography adorning the walls. The black and white photographs give their subjects a timeless grit, from the urban artistry of the can-slinging graffitists scrambling onto wheelie bins to scrawl their messages, to the grass roots glamour of a young woman reclining in a terrace yard; the portraiture of local haunts and faces is not unlike the aesthetic of Shane Meadow’s 2005 film This is England. It’s not hard to imagine some kind of rousing eclectic soundtrack blasting out alongside these almost implacably nostalgic images. The photographs are accompanied by various miscellany such as a battered coal shovel and discarded bricks one can imagine being lobbed through the broken window of a disused factory space, indicating a kind of self-made- self-destructive dichotomy of the north. The exhibition suits its space so well it is hard to imagine these images and items do not permanently decorate the room. Broth Tarn will run until the 2nd of March at Tall Boys and prints are available for £3 on their website www.brothtarn.tumblr.com