Six of the best craft beers from Yorkshire
PUBLISHED: 00:00 16 May 2016
Where do you stand on fizzy, corporate beer from overseas? Personally, I think it has its place — that place being my fridge, writes Tony Greenway.
We Brits do like to keep things local however, with 82 per cent of beers sold here made here. We also appear to have quite a thirst on. Currently, beer is booming in the UK and, last summer, a new brewery was said to be opening every other day (although, around the same time, it was also reported that four pubs were shutting every day, so while there is loads of beer being made, there are fewer places to drink it!)
But the fact is the market for artisan craft beers is surging, with 1,500 small breweries accounting for seven per cent of all UK beer sales. There’s a reason for this. As The Guardian pointed out recently, small breweries are usually owned by people who are passionate about beer, love what they do and are far more flexible than their larger rivals. They don’t mind experimenting. You can taste the difference.
In Yorkshire, we’re lucky to have fantastic brewers producing some glorious craft beers and here are just a half dozen of them. Cheers to that, and to them.
With its sweet, smooth and citrus taste, the Whitby Whaler is a very popular pint (available through Punch Taverns and in bottles, too, mainly in locations around Whitby). ‘It’s not too strong with a nice bit of bitterness, and it’s well-balanced,’ says Will Cook, head brewer at Whitby Brewery. ‘It’s something that people can drink all evening.’ Fair enough, I say.
Hetton Pale Ale
Available year-round, this is a big seller for the Dark Horse Brewery near Skipton and winner of Yorkshire’s Perfect Pint from the TV series of the same name. ‘It was judged by a panel of people who were drinkers, they weren’t industry folk,’ remembers Richard Eyton-James, brewer-in-chief at Dark Horse. ‘It seemed to tick all the boxes, so I haven’t changed it much since.’ Hetton Pale Ale is described as ‘creamy and silky smooth’ and ‘fruity with a mild bitterness’.
The people who give us the Yorkshire Heart Beer and Music Festival at the end of April also produce a beer called The Hop Cycle. This beer is a year-round special from Yorkshire Heart, Nun Monkton, York which gets its name because it’s brewed using different hops each month (the malt stays the same).
Kirkstall Brewery in Leeds calls this beer after the emblem on the gate at Kirkstall Abbey. Made using three different hops and available on draft, it’s a big seller thanks to its downright drinkability. ‘It’s 4.5%, so not too weak, not too strong, and very pale,’ says Alex Dodd, head brewer. ‘So, it’s great for spring and summer.’
When I ask her to pick just one of the craft beers that Little Valley Brewery (just outside Hebden Bridge) produces, co-owner Sue Cooper ‘umms’ and ‘ahhs’ for a moment. Finally she goes for the 5% Tod’s Blonde, available on draft and bottle, and organic and vegan. Why is it a popular beer? ‘It’s a good all-rounder,’ she says. ‘Our strapline for it is “cool and crisp”’. Enough said.
Rudgate Ruby Mild
When I tell you that Ruby Mild has won lots of awards, I really mean it; in fact, there isn’t the space to list them all here. Let’s just say it took home a silver from the CAMRA Champion Beer of Britain in 2015 awards (and it also won gold at the same event in 2012 and was crowned Overall Champion Beer of Britain in 2009). Brewed in the Vale of York, it’s available in cask and in bottles, locally and nationally.