Gathering a Head of Steam with Wilde Child

Last year, I had the privilege of meeting Keir McAllister-Wilde. Introduced by a mutual friend, it was an exciting time as it was one more brewery to add to Leeds’ growing list and an opportunity to meet another brewer.

When I met Keir, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I didn’t know his background, nor had I heard of him through my tenure on the Leeds CAMRA committee. So, a newbie to the brewing scene then, or he was to me at least! One of the first things Keir told me then was that his background was as a home brewer, who went on to brew with commercial breweries including Elland Brewery, to hone his craft. The plan was always to run his own brewery, but perhaps frustration at brewing the same recipes pushed this plan forward ahead of schedule. So, in late 2015, Wilde Child Brewing Co. was formed.

Wild Childe is set up in Keir’s private residence, a decent sized garage that is crammed full of brewing equipment, in Kirkstall. Keir believes this is the smallest professional brewery in Leeds, although admits that there are others in the area who also make this claim.

If I were to describe what Keir is to you, the words that immediately spring to mind are passionate, enthusiastic and creative. All three of these traits come out as soon as you talk with him, but equally as important they appear very clearly in his beer too.

Head of Steam

Keir’s first available beers were in bottles. Whereas many new brewers would come to market with a portfolio like a bitter, a pale and a stout/porter, Keir ripped up that form book and brought to us Instant Hobo, a 9% bourbon imperial stout, Hopstrosity a 10.5% triple IPA and Creature of Doom an 8.2% doppelbock. No holding back then!

Since then, Keir’s creativity has flourished and all his beers have been greatly received. Producing in cask (Keir’s preference, despite the challenges this can bring not only in production but cost as well), bottles, cans and kegs, Keir has built a great reputation for immensely flavoursome and high-quality beers that push boundaries (in fact, check out Pushing Boundaries, an 8.1% double IPA).

The beer list

For Leeds Beer Week 2017, Keir hosted a double tap takeover at Head of Steam Leeds and Headingley, of which I attended the Leeds part of the event.

If I were to pick a person that runs Keir close on passion and enthusiasm then Chris Nelson, manager at Head of Steam in Leeds City Centre, certainly makes the shortlist. Chris is a Beer Academy Beer Sommelier, with fantastic knowledge on beer and food. This is someone who truly loves his job and it shows.

Head of Steam Leeds is still only in its early years. It’s predecessor, Spencers, had a reputation that was enough to make me never step foot in the place. Since Cameron’s Brewery bought the site and transformed it into Leeds’ first Head of Steam bar, it has become an award winner and one of the leading beer drinking venues in the city.

So, if you put one of Leeds’ most passionate and creative brewers, in one of the city’s leading pubs, run by a passionate and enthusiastic beer sommelier, it’s going to be good, right? Absolutely!

Keir (left) and Chris (right) handing out beer and food samples

The event in Leeds was a beer and food pairing. Keir brought with him six beers (although one was not included in the food pairing) and Chris and his team delivered nibbles that were designed to pair well with each one of the beers. Every course was excellent, but there were two in particular that really stood out for me. Firstly, was the 5.2% Columbus, part of Wilde Child’s hop series, which was paired with beef on ciabatta with fresh jalapeno and Hell Fire cheese. Second was Instant Hobo, this time in a wooden cask which was paired with ice cream and chocolate – superb.

Instant Hobo paired with ice cream and chocolate

Also in Keir’s beer portfolio that night was Enfant Terrible a 4.5% French-hopped beer that on this occasion had been aged on French Oak chips, Dangerous Liason a 6.5% Red IPA that had been brewed with Chris on collaboration duty, Opaque Reality a stunningly fruity and creamy 5.9% mango and passionfruit IPA and finally, Righteous Indignation, Keir’s recently brewed 7.4% New England IPA.

The icing on the cake of this event was Chris organising a taxi service for people who also wanted to then attend the Headingley part of the evening’s event – service at a different level.

Wilde Child beers are widely available across Leeds and you can check out where it is frequently stocked on the Where To Find Us section of the website.

Head of Steam Leeds has recently undergone a small refurbishment to provide more space for customers to enjoy great beer. Specialising in cask, international keg, cans and bottles (with a focus on US and Belgian beers), it’s located just a few minutes’ walk away from Leeds City Train Station.

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