Category Archives: SummerWine Brewery

>SummerWine Take Over The Free Trade Inn

The Free Trade Inn in Newcastle is being taken over by Yorkshire’s very own Hop-scented upstarts SummerWine Brewery next week (25th-27th). If you’re yet to try James & Andy’s wares and are up that way then do drop by – now’s your chance. My personal recommendation would be Diablo IPA, which has fast become – in my humble opinion – their Flagship beer. However, such treats as Barista, Nerotype and their new Valencia ales will be on offer. In addition, there will be plenty of US-
inspired bottle action and a Meet The Brewer night on the 24th. So, if you’re in Newcastle, you really have no excuse to catch up with one of the country’s most promising brewing outfit. You can follow the Free Trade Inn on Twitter through @TheFreeTradeInn.

Back in Leeds, North have announced their annual Belgian Bier Fest will be kicking off on the 7th April. Expect the usual mind-boggling array of Belgian beauties, along with plenty of cheese and bread (one hopes). North’s festivals are always worth dropping in on.

Finally, as if anyone in Leeds needs reminding – CAMRA’s Leeds Beer Festival is taking place now. If its tips you’re after, I can wholeheartedly recommend Hopstar’s Smokey Joe Black Beer and Thornbridge’s Chiron. Leeds’s Gyle 479 was sitting in wooden glory amongst the rows of plastic and steel, and the beer was excellent; with a much more pungent, rum/whisky-esque nose than the plummy delights of the bottled version. I understand this has now run out, but I think there are still some bottles kicking around.


>Cask vs Keg vs Bottle vs Can


The Session: It’s like a Royal Rumble of dispense.
This argument has been rumbling on for a while, and I doubt that I’m going to add anything meaningful to it apart from my own point of view. However, seeing as though one of my favourite blogs, Reluctant Scooper is hosting the session, I thought I’d wade in. Hey, that’s what the blog’s for, so here goes.
Firstly – Bottle vs Can. Along with the true identity of Jack the Ripper, or why people ever rated Rafa Benitez, one of the true mysteries of life is why brewers put beer in clear glass bottles. It simply makes for a badly-kept beer, and one that tastes, no matter what beer it is, like all other beers in clear glass. Skunky. Harsh. Oxidised. Yuck. In the grand scheme of things, putting beer into cans holds no great pain for me; I’ve tried a few average US Pale Ales in cans and enjoyed not only the novelty, but the taste of the beer too. Some purists argue that the can taints the beer; let’s get glass right first, eh? Bring on Canning, I say. My view will stay that way until I drink a beer that’s genuinely been ruined by canning – the process, that is.

As for Keg…well, I have to agree with what Zak says in so much as that I’d like to think it’s horses for courses; some beers suit being Keg-Dispensed, some not so. The turning point for me was when I took a trip to Edinburgh in 2009 and enjoyed a pint of BrewDog 77 Lager on cask at The Abbotsford. Lovely it was; but at the time – for the first time, I might add – that flash of ‘might be better served in Keg’ came across my mind. Since then, there have been many beers that I’ve enjoyed on Keg, and those that I wish I had enjoyed on Keg – such as SummerWine’s Project 6 IPA series. I know Andy and James are pro-Keg, but I really believe this. Powerful, aromatic beers that do well slightly colder are great on Keg, as are excellent lagers such as all-time-fave Moravka and, more recently, Thornbridge Italia. Foley’s Brewdog tap and North’s constant Keg presence means we are sorted in Leeds, and The Grove (Huddersfield) unashamedly flaunts Keg as a dispense system for their US range; and that’s not even mentioning BrewDog Aberdeen’s all-Keg lineup. It’s popular, and that’s just here. When I open the West Coast Good Beer Guide, and am flicking the pages, gazing upon row upon row of Keg taps, I’m slightly romanced by it. It’s not a fad, and there’s no need to be scared of it. It’s just another option.
Old Peculier from the wood? Stouts, lush, velvety Porters, fruity Ales and Brown Ales? Give me cask. Summer Ales, Weiss, Wits and Pales at a Summer Barbecue? Chill those bottles. The best dispense system for any beer is surely the one that suits it the most.
…By the way, if you’ve got the Good Beer US West Coast, flick to Page 97 and check out the Maiden Publick House. That’s what I dream of: a bar in woods, with neon signs in the window and a shitload of great beer. If I win the lottery, that’s what I’m buying. You’re all invited.

>SummerWine P6 #6 & Crown’s Brooklyn Heights


Decent Pale Ales. Like buses, you wait ages for one and two show up at the same time. Foley’s had both these gems on over the weekend, and I managed to taste both today. First up, Crown’s Brooklyn Heights; a 5.8% US-inspired pale that I’ve been wanting to taste for a while (forefront of picture). It didn’t disappoint – copper-hued, with a firm, cereal-led body and a green-pine and grapefruit hop profile that was both soft and dry at the same time. A serious pale, at a serious abv, that ends up wholly drinkable, super-refreshing and well-balanced. Simple, yes, but strangely enough can be hard to find in pale-world. Let’s get more Crown into Leeds; North and now Foley’s have stepped up to the plate – who’s going to be next?

Summer Wine’s final Project 6 IPA doesn’t fail to disappoint either – as I kind of knew it wouldn’t as I held it to my nose and caught a whiff of all that lemony aroma. With a little darker malt in the body, there’s enough sweetness at first to balance the bitterness that you know is coming; and it does arrive in style. Softly juicy at first, then getting dryer and bitterer (is that a word?) as the sip continues, P6 Brew 6 certainly lets you know it’s an IPA. Check out both breweries’ blogs too; both are enlightening as well as entertaining.

>SWB P6 Brew #3


…A bit late, this one, but I had to get it out there. SummerWine’s IPA project continues apace, with Brew 3 landing last week at Foley’s.
Gold-hued, there’s a strong Lime and Grapefruit note here. I also found it a little less sweet than Brew 2, which made the beer just a touch thinner and lighter. Balance is still the key word here, however, and it’s an incredibly refreshing, juicy IPA that tastes nowhere near it’s 6.6%abv.
Brew 4 is in the Cellar now, apparently – so get yourself down to Foley’s for a taste.
SummerWines new blog can also be found in the links section – it’s well worth a read. >>>

>SummerWine Project 6 IPA Brew 2


…Regular readers will be familiar with SummerWine’s Summer IPA project, and I’m pleased to see that Brew #2 landed this week. Brew#2 proved to be a paler pint than #1, and, as expected, loaded with hops. Whereas #1 had a more herbal, green note, #2 has a much more citrus-led profile. I don’t know what hops are in it, but I’d hazard a suggestion of Centennial and Amarillo being present. Still smooth, and very drinkable for its abv as before, #2 is a much fruitier beast than its predecessor.

Still, I’d like to do a side-by-side comparison, as well – What about bottling this set of big IPA’s, SummerWine lads?

As usual, tasted in Foley’s.

>To Holmfirth and Beyond – A Chat With Summer Wine Brewery


Keeping it local (locale?) and staying in Holmfirth, I’ve had the pleasure of having a quick chat with James Farran, head brewer at Summer Wine Brewery. This little outfit have big ideas, and that’s a quality I really like about new breweries – a sense of adventure. Whether it’s creating a relatively large core range of nine beers rather than the usual three or four, or devoting this summer to IPA, there’s a questing nature underneath underneath it all that certainly comes through in their beers, which take usual styles and simply make it their way. This sounds like the easiest thing in the world, but in my opinion, too many breweries tread the same path. Anyway, I’m rambling: I’ll let James do the talking.

Leigh: Summer Wine – tell me how it started.
James: Good question. Well, I was set on the track as a brewer around 9 years ago when I had one of those beer epiphanies, you know when you drink a beer and it changes everything you thought you knew about beer. I was 18 and the beer was Fraoch Heather Ale from Williams Bros; it was malty, spicy, slightly sweet & extremely well balanced – it instantly changed my ideas of what beer could be.

To cut a long story short, I decided to start homebrewing – first, those dodgy syrup kits & eventually full grain mash. I brewed over & over honing my skills as I went, learning all the time about mash temps, pH, sparge temp, hopping, yeasts etc. & how they all can affect the finished product. Many brews followed. I then decided I wanted to brew commercially as what I was brewing was very well received. I wanted a brewery with a name that was synonymous with its location & as I lived close to Holmfirth what better than Summer Wine? So I incorporated Summer Wine Brewery Ltd & trademarked the company name.

I brewed on a small half barrel plant for two years, until I ran into Andy Baker (Summer Wine MD) & another one of our directors at our place of work. I wanted to take the brewery to the next level & Andy was looking for an opportunity to blood himself in the business world after he had graduated – and never one to shirk a challenge, he put his money where his mouth is and jumped in. Everything then moved very quickly we had premises and a working brewery within 6 months (would have been quicker if not for brewery equipment lead time.) Nearly 2 years on the brewery is in huge growth, the beers are well received far and wide & we have some exciting plans for expansion in the pipeline.
Who, or What is your motivation to brew? Where do you look for inspiration?
My motivation to brew comes from lots of sources. I have heard it said that ‘brewing is in your blood’ & when you’re in this industry brewing just feels right and when you have the passion for brewing you don’t feel like you have a job and it’s easy to get out of bed in the morning. Sometimes the motivation can come from drinking a great beer or opening and fresh pack of a new hop variety – or maybe even a blog debate (At least we’re good for something – Leigh). Inspiration is everywhere.
My favourite SW beer is Helios – a fruity, spritzy blonde that’s massively sessionable. Can you give me the lowdown on some more of your core range – and what’s your favourite?
We believe choice is a right, not a privilege, and that is why we have a core range of nine ales. Our range carries all styles from Dambusters Dark Mild (3.5%abv) a true mild, Invictus Copper Ale (4.5% abv) our take on a Bitter with punch, up to Apache American Pale Ale (5.2% abv), my personal favorite is Teleporter (5.0% abv) our ten-grain porter that is subtly fruity & chocolatey, with real depth & class. It’s a really great dark ale.

What’s your favourite non-SummerWine beer?

Oooh that’s a tough one, so many great beers in the UK & the world for that matter. I’m a great believer that there is no such thing as a great beer only great gyles, however my favourite cask ales being brewed at the moment would have to be Marble Pint & Thornbridge Jaipur – but I am also a huge fan of dark ale as a style. My favourite bottled beer would have to be the Brewdog/Stone collaboration, Bashah.

Project 6 – what’s it all about and what can we expect? Project 6 is our new monthly released IPA at 6.6% abv. The first was released at the beginning of June and the start of every month thereafter. The 6 beers will all be Pale IPA’s that showcase the world’s best hops; six varieties in each brew, kettle, aroma & dry hopped to create intensely fruity beers that have real balance despite the huge amount of hops going into each brew,

You can expect each beer to be different from the last in that bitterness levels will change from brew to brew and some interesting dry hopping with some more unusual hops will give the beers an individual character. IPA’s are at the forefront of such an exciting brewing scene at the moment & it is really a pleasure to turn our hand to a series of them.

Apart from Project 6, what else is on the horizon in 2010?
We currently brew two monthly specials to accompany our nine core ales, which vary in style. We also have some very exciting ideas in the pipeline for this year and beyond; without revealing too much one project will include the fusion of two styles whilst another will involve some interesting aged beers.
And finally….You’ve got one day off this year – how do you spend it?
Probably spend the day sat in a old chesterfield reading some of the ever increasing pile of books waiting for me, mainly factual things regarding evolution, physics & cosmology whilst drinking a selection of the world’s finest bottled beers… heaven!

So there you go. Brewers by day, Science buffs by night. P6 Brew #1 certainly hit the spot: amber in colour, with a sweet, caramelly body, it delivered a green, grassy, slightly herbal hop bite thanks to a mix of Ahtanum, Willamette, Herkules and Liberty – and two secret hops – that increased on the sip. The balance between the body and the hops was spot on – although James warns that P6 Brew #2 is even better. Keep an eye out for it.
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