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Great Yorkshire Bottled Beer

9780992819361.1Well, here it is: the follow-up to last year’s Great Yorkshire Beer. One of the few reasons that posts have been light this year on the blog! Let me tell you a few things about it.

The book itself is partly a response to reader feedback following the publication of Great Yorkshire Beer; both individually and in the book trade. Readers wanted more breweries, they wanted a more usable ‘guide’, they wanted something with more scope. The idea of a bottled beer guide wasn’t my first thought when the chance to write another book came to me, but I soon warmed to it. Why not? Why not catalogue the bottled beer being brewed right now in Yorkshire? Why not celebrate the diversity of brewing in the region – much like that in the UK in general – from Sam Smith’s to Magic Rock? Plus, drinking my way round the region would be fun, I thought.

And it was; I tasted beers new and old, discovering new breweries such as Harrogate Brewing Company and Atom, alongside reappraising the likes of Samuel Smith’s, Black Sheep and Timothy Taylor. I learnt new things about breweries that I thought myself familiar with, and made countless new friends in the process. It features beers from every brewery regularly producing bottled beer at the time of writing; over 150 beers from over 60 breweries.

There are no interviews this time – just a short biography of each brewery and tasting notes, alongside some notes on storing beer, common faults, a little food matching, and a list of recommended beer retailers. Simple!

We’ve intentionally published it in time for Christmas, not only to hit the peak time of the year in terms of bookselling but also in response to another bit of feedback, which was that these books make great gifts. I’m really pleased with it, and it’s a great little sister publication to Great Yorkshire Beer. So if you want a little present for the beery person in your life this Christmas, there are worse avenues I could point you down!

Great Yorkshire Bottled Beer is published on 27/10/2014, and is available for pre-order now from Great Northern Books and all other good booksellers. If you’re a store, bottleshop or other business and want to stock the book, drop me an email (on the about me tab) and I will point you in the right direction.

Treboom Brewery: Banging The Drum

YorkshireSparkleThe first time I heard  about Treboom was (somewhay aptly, given the music connection) in the office of Revolutions Brewing, taking a break (Tea, Pork Pie, Mini Babybel) from brewing a beer with them. They’d been doing some beer swaps, and Treboom’s pumpclip stood out on a table strewn with them.

“Ah…Treboom…” said Andy Helm as I eyed the clip, conspiratorially. “Good beer. Really good, actually. Check ’em out.”

So – not one to ignore advice from brewers – I duly did. It took a while (I was to later find out that Treboom’s beers generally don’t last long on the bar) but I soon became acquainted with Yorkshire Sparkle; a crisp, super-pale-ale that begs for a sun-drenched beer garden, a packet of Salted Crisps, and excellent conversation. Too late to include in Great Yorkshire Beer, Treboom joined the likes of Hop Studio, Hand-Drawn MonkeyCollingham and Brass Castle in breweries (well, HDM is kind of a brewery) really gaining a cult following in Yorkshire of late. When Jon Chappell (York Tap) and I put our heads together to decide what we were going to put on the bar for the book launch, Yorkshire Sparkle wasone of the first non-book-included beers on the list.

I finally managed to have a natter with John Lewis at the launch. As is often the case, Treboom is a labour of love between one couple – John and his wife, Jane Blackman. “We set up (Treboom) because I lost my funding as a research scientist at the University of York, working on Prostate Cancer.” says John. “We had always wanted to do something together and, as  I had been a homebrewer, a microbrewery seemed the obvious choice as is quite scientific!”

They started in early 2012, making beer in Cask for pubs within a 30 mile radius of York. A little investment and a grant from DEFRA later, and Treboom’s beer is enjoying a charmed life in the myriad pubs of York and surrounding areas. “Things are going very well – people are enjoying our beer. Yorkshire Sparkle is our best seller and won silver at the York CAMRA Beer Festival last year, and Baron Saturday also came top in a York Battle of the Breweries.’

It’s not all classic styles of beer though. John firmly ascribes to the tried-and-tested method of using seasonals to supplement the core range with something a little different. “Yes, we’ve made some interesting seasonals including a green hopped beer called First Draft and a Wheat Beer using Bog Mrytle from the North Yorkshire Moors.” Bog Myrtle, eh? That’s one to try.

Next week Treboom are throwing open their doors for their first Brewery Beats festival. With a connection to drumming (a Treboom is a drumming term), Jon and Jane have assembled drummers from all over the world to come and provide entertainment to guests while they in turn get to know the brewery.

“Two groups of drummers came to us independently because they had seen the logo – one of them actually practices in Shipton where we are based. They suggested doing something together and Brewery Beats is the result. We have Japanese Drummers, African Drummers, Egyptian Dancers and a band called The Eclectic Sparks playing.”

BreweryBeatslogoBut wait – there’s more. “Jane is a ceramicist and so we decided to invite some artists along too.  There will be 12 artists here in total with work ranging from painting, printmaking, ceramics, photography and jewellery”.

Food is taken care of, too. John explains. “The festival really combines all our interests into one package -art, food, music and beer!  Harrogate Preserves will be there – they use our Kettle Drum Best Bitter in their chutney – Haxby Baker produces artisan bread and is going to use our beer to make some bread. Butterfly Chocolates are going to use our porter (Baron Saturday) to make some truffles. We’re very excited about it – and there’s going to be a cheesemonger so, along with our beer, there will be the makings of a Ploughman’s!”

The festival’s completeness sums of what I’ve learned about Treboom in a short space of time; a brewery that clearly wants to be of a community; one spoke of a great wheel that encompasses more than beer. “The event is really to introduce people to Treboom and show them what we are about and where our interests lie.  We want to make good quality beer and do interesting things along the way rather than become a beer factory.”

That’s an admirable cause, indeed.

You can get full details of the festival here. You can also read Gavin Aitcheson’s excellent profile of Treboom over at York Press here.

Fancy Winning A Copy of Great Yorkshire Beer & A T-Shirt?

CAMRGB-WEB-HEADER….What’s that? Yes?

Well, get yourself over to CAMRGB, who have very kindly launched a bit of a giveaway with the book and a spiffing CAMRGB T-Shirt, to boot.

Head on over if you want to take part.

Wharfebank : What Happened Next

Picture courtesy of Wharfebank Brewery

Picture courtesy of Wharfebank Brewery

As you all know, I spent a large part of 2012 spending time in the pockets of brewers around Yorkshire whilst writing Great Yorkshire Beer. One of the things I learned early on – in stark relief – is that things change incredibly quickly in this business. It seemed that almost as soon as copy was filed, changes were happening; rebrands, changes of personnel, new premises being sought. So, with that in mind, I’m going to catch up with the brewers involved for a series of short updates over the summer.

A couple of weeks ago I was invited over to The Fleece in Otley to celebrate Wharfebank’s 500th brew. It’s been somewhat of a steep progression for Martin Kellaway and his crew recently; Wharfebank are now a bustling, thriving modern brewery with a couple of local pubs, a small core of staff and beers in cask, keg and bottle. For the 500th brew, they’ve teamed up with Ken Fisher (the man behind Grateful Deaf Beer) and…well, I’ll let Martin explain:

‘I wanted our 500th brew to be special but also a lot different from what our other 499 brews had been. Tony Jenkins (Business Support and all-round go-getter at WB) has met Ken on many occasions whilst working together at the GBBF and we quickly agreed that some of Ken’s wonderful style of beers could form the basis of our celebratory beer. Combining Ken’s style with that of Jayne Hewitt, our very own Master Brewer, we together created ‘D’  -our 6.6% 500th brew. It’s got 6 distinctive hops with a IBU of 65 – it certainly is special.’

So, something a little different for Wharfebank’s fervent army of followers across the region. That’s not the only change; Wharfebank’s new brewer is actually taking on his first commercial job. Steve Crump is an award-winning homebrewer, who is being welcomed into the fold to bring fresh ideas to Wharfebank. Without going into too much detail about what lies ahead, Martin is as excited about the appointment as Steve is.

‘Steve is a brilliant  home brewer, and he joins our team to create new beers that push our range even further, whilst building on the successes we already have.’ beams Martin. What I like about Wharfebank is that, despite their solid reputation for no-nonsense beers, Martin and the team keep a close eye on what’s going on and want to be part of progression – in their own way – with no risk of trying to be something they aren’t. For example, building a partnership with The Harewood Estate to use their fresh hops each year.  ‘One or two of our experiments haven’t worked, but it’s the benefit of brewing on our small scale that enables us to try new ideas. We are ahead of where we planned to be but we can always do better, and every day we strive to improve.’ adds Martin.

photo 2

Scallops, paired with Tether Blonde

Wharfebank’s bottled range (purely an idea when interviewed for GYB) is now available, and I can personally recommend the IPA and SPA in particular. Not only that, but Wharfebank’s experimental foray into the Spanish market has been incredibly well-recieved, and remains an opportunity for export success.

We spent the evening in The Fleece, which is a fantastic pub (with one of the best beer gardens around) on the riverbank in Otley. The team there really do get the food right  –  the menu was incredibly well-paired with the beer on offer. Acquiring The Fleece -and The Half Moon in Pool – has always been high on Martin’s agenda, and I asked him how the two were performing. ‘The pubs have all traded well, despite the poor spring weather.’ he says.

‘The Fleece has gone from strength to strength with the new management team of Oliver Renton and chef Simon Miller.  Oliver runs front of house and Simon was recently a quarter finalist on BBC Masterchef The Professionals.’

The Half Moon in Pool-in-Wharfedale has traded well, with great support from our local community. Fred and Heather are our managers and are a doing a fine job. We’ve introduced simple, locally sourced and freshly prepared pub food,  along with our refurbishment of 5 letting bedrooms. We are also building the cask sales so that the introduction of  guest ales should become a permanent feature very soon’. The Half Moon is a cosy village pub, and one worth stopping at if passing through Pool.

rook-2Most recently, Wharfebank joined forces with Castle Rock to take the reins at The Rook and Gaskill in York. It’s a different proposition from the other two, as Martin explains. ‘The Rook  is run by Steve Bradley, who also runs the thriving Fulford Arms. Since opening in late 2012, we’ve has created a  beer range on cask and keg that is proving really popular. The recent introduction of The Yorkshire Lager – from the Great Yorkshire Brewery –  has also been very well received to compliment  Freedom Pilsner, Titanic Stout and the 10  ales we have on. There’s always 2 beers from WharfeBank and 2 from Castle Rock  the bar, always a LocAle from the York region plus many fantastic rotating guests. Food has slowly been introduced – which is  a unique offering of Caribbean! Music and events are also driving trade, so yes, overall a very positive outlook.’

SO, overall, a productive and positive year for Wharfebank, with some real focus and attention on the places that you can enjoy their beer in as well as the quality of the beer itself. Behind the bar, they’ve also launched a Master Cellar Club, which provides a strong link between brewery and publican, providing training, special beers and general support. This idea is one that I think sums up Wharfebank very well – a small regional brewery thinking like a larger one, especially when it comes to that area we all love between brewery and consumer – The Pub.

The Flying Duck, Ilkley & Oscars for Ossett

Flying Duck Cover pic3New pub openings are always exciting, and Ilkley is about to get not only a new watering hole, but a new brewpub to boot. A group of local beer enthusiasts – a couple of whom have been involved with Ilkley Beer Festival for a number of years -are currently refurbishing The Albert Inn on Church St. It’ll be reopening as The Flying Duck, a nod to its original title of The Mallard Inn.

The 2.5 barrel brewplant will be housed in the buildings behind the pub, and fermenting vessels from Oban Ales have been shipped down to Yorkshire. The team will be producing a range of beers for the pub under the banner of Wharfedale Brewery.

Hopefully they’ll be able to restore some glory to the pub; the Grade II listed building is one of Ilkley’s oldest properties, having been built in 1709 as a farmhouse and is mentioned in Sir Nikolaus Pevsner’s “Buildings of England” chronicles for its architectural importance, according to their press release.

Spokesman Jonathan Shepherd outlines the style of The Flying Duck; the emphasis will be on home-made and guest Real Ales and a pub for the community. ‘When looking for a premises, we were advised that the lease on the Albert was available – which with its 300 year history – provides an exact match with our plans to provide a Yorkshire Dales style real ale and fine wine venue in a setting packed with character which we hope the community will be proud of”.

The pub is being renovated as we speak; I’ve seen some of the plans and it looks lovely, to be honest – the Albert has not been particularly worth visiting in recent years. I’ll be keeping a keen eye on this one – brewpubs don’t pop up often – and you can keep up to date with them on their Twitter account. 

pumpclipsBrewDog Leeds opened this week, and yet again proved that being a ‘chain’ doesn’t have to be all bad as long as you stay true to your original vision. Another, less-heralded chain of pubs won a fantastic award this week; and in typical Ossett fashion, to little fanfare.

Winning The Best Microbrewery Pub Company at The Publican awards is massively deserved. Ossett’s pub estate – from the simple ale-focused likes of The Rat (Huddersfield) and The Riverhead (Marsden) to the music-and-beer niche The Hop (Leeds, Sheffield and Wakefield), they do things right. Great beer in great settings, and if you’re a fan of live music, then The Hops are a godsend.

It’s great to see Ossett getting recognition like this; underrated somewhat as a brewer, let’s hope that this award throws a bit more of the spotlight their way.

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