A look ahead to the Beer and Bread Festival at Fountains Abbey
PUBLISHED: 00:00 10 June 2019
Fountains Abbey celebrates beer and bread in an exciting new street food collaboration
The monks who lived at Fountains Abbey in the Middle Ages were a canny lot. They could have produced all sorts of crops, but they opted for wheat, oats and barley, which they ground in their own mill to provide two essentials for everyday living: beer and bread.
'Fountains Mill was originally a huge monastic watermill and granary,' said Hayley Donaldson, a visitor experience assistant at the National Trust estate near Ripon. 'In the abbey's heyday, the monks brewed 60 barrels of ale every ten days. At the time, tea and coffee were unheard of and water was insanitary, so ale was consumed with all meals.
'Today, we eat bread and drink beer for pleasure, and Yorkshire is full of bakeries, breweries and street food producers making bread and beer of all kinds. But back in the Middle Ages, they were more about survival.'
The monks might not have been mad keen on sharing their home brew and malted bloomers, but they were happy to pass on their culinary knowledge and, as a consequence, played their part in building what have since become two major industries.
Now, in a nod to the abbey's food heritage and to celebrate the important role both play in modern Yorkshire, a new Beer & Bread Festival is being launched this month (June 15th-16th and 22nd-23rd) in partnership with Leeds Indie Food.
Local street food producers, brewers and bakers will be gathering around Fountains Mill to share their wares and talk about how they create their own specialist artisan produce. Visitors will also have the chance to learn about the history of the mill - one of only a handful of monastic mills still surviving in Europe, take a tour of the old brewhouse and bakehouse, and have a go at making traditional dough.
'Fountains Abbey is such an amazing location, with a history to match,' said Simon Fogal, founder of Leeds Indie Food. 'With its long history in the processes of making beer and bread, Fountains Mill is the perfect host for this event.
'We're revving up for two exciting weekends celebrating the best local beer, bread and street food against the backdrop of this World Heritage Site.'
Leeds Indie Food was initially set up as an annual celebration of the independent food and drink culture of the city. It celebrated its fifth anniversary in May with a host of festival events.
In 2018, the Leeds Indie team started running more events outside of its own festival period, with a weekly food fair, #EatNorth, at North Brewing Co in Sheepscar Grove, Leeds, and Chow Down at the Piece Hall in Halifax, which welcomed 120,000 people over four weekends last year.
Now, it's adding the Fountains Abbey Beer & Bread Festival to its growing roster, with vegan tacos, local beer and award-winning doughnuts all on the eclectic menu.
Among the many foodie (and drinkie) highlights will be Malton's Bad Seed Brewery, run by a pair of enthusiastic home brewers who turned their passion into a microbrewery business in 2013 and have since turned their home town into a beacon for hand-crafted, full flavour beers (including one that tastes of rhubarb crumble).
You might also want to prepare your taste buds for:
Los Antojitos, a pop-up that specialises in hand-pressed corn tortillas piled high with vegan flavours, including barbecue sweet potato and red cabbage slaw, and seitan de barbacoa Estila Yucatan (a sort of richly spiced vegan stew) and refried beans.
Sela Bar Pizza Bus, which tours the country serving hand-pulled pizza, including the crowd-pulling truffle, mushroom and chorizo.
Luigi Street Food, which specialises in small batches of home-made pasta, bruschetta and other Italian delicacies bursting with fresh flavours.
And Doh Hut, whose sweet doughnuts are so delicious they won the British Street Food of the Year Award in 2018. Take our advice and try their crème brûlée version, filled with crème patissiere and drenched with torched caster sugar to create a ridiculously pleasing caramel snap.
For full details of the Beer & Bread Festival at Fountains Abbey, visit nationaltrust.org.uk.