Craft Beer Road Trip, Yorkshire

We spent 4 days road tripping around Yorkshire in search of great craft beer for the crate. We talked to local experts and followed up their tips. Next time you’re in Yorkshire you can retrace our footsteps, but for now sit back, relax and retrace our tastebuds from the comfort of your home.

Day 1

5pm, The Cap and Collar, Saltaire

Kegs stacked in a glass cabinet from which lines sprout like vines. Chris goes for a Baildon Blonde (Baildon Brewery) which causes him to wince while Russ smugly sips Black Night, a Oatmeal Stout from Leeds based Ridgeside Brewery. Jack goes for Against the Grain from Wold Top Brewery which he finds to be both gluten and flavour free.

Should have asked the barman for recommendations

7pm, The Triangle, Saltaire

A fully licensed bottle shop/art gallery. We talk to resident expert Simon who proclaims the number one craft brewery in Yorkshire to be Magic Rock.

Day 2

In Brighouse we collect Anthony (another of our subscribers) then on to Magic Rock in Huddersfield. We arrive without appointment. It’s wet and cold. Russ fumbles the buzzer with trepidation.

10am, Magic Rock, Huddersfield

“Can I help you?”

Jack mumbles something in reply.

“Have you got an appointment?”

Shit.

“I’ll see if anyone is free to see you”.

Disheartened we huddle in the rain. Magic Rock is a heavyweight brewery and have better things to do on a Monday morning than entertain our sorry arses.

The door swings open and Richard Burhouse (Founder) appears smiling warmly. He ushers us in from the rain and takes an interest in what we are doing. Our spirits rise and minutes later and we‘re watching a fresh batch of Common Grounds (a full bodied coffee porter) buzz off the canning line and into boxes ready for shipping.

Antony, Russ, Chris with Magic Rock founder Richard Burhouse

Richard talks us through production. How an investment in malt silos frees up time to focus on the creative aspects of brewing. How the canning line becomes a bottle neck. How Cryohops make better beer and bring operational efficiency.

In despatch we spy some freshly canned Cannonball (a masterclass IPA) and load it into our wagon along with Common Grounds. Richard suggests we head to Mallinsons (Huddersfield) and Summer Wine (Holmfirth). We skip the more traditional Mallinsons and head to Summer Wine.

11.30am, Summer Wine, Holmfirth

Our timing was bitter (because Director Andy Baker was leaving for a cycle ride and couldn’t see us) and sweet (because he performed a prolonged lunge and welcomed us back on Wednesday). We noted the appointment but Wednesday turned out to have other plans for us.

Lunges: Chris once did a lunge in a brewery and it went viral. Craft beer lunges are a thing.

We fire a Cannonball on our way into Leeds……It’s magic, it rocks, it’s Magic Rock. Outside Leeds station we discover Friends of Ham, which has been beeping on our radar.

1.30pm, Friends of Ham, Leeds

A fine selection of craft beer and artisanal swine. We order a Yorkshire beer flight with Jamon Iberico, Morcilla, Chorizo, Cheese and Quince and settle into four cosy armchairs for a taste off.

A friend of ham is a friend of ours

We drink Pacer (Pale Ale, Summer Wine), Eternal Infinity (IPA, Northern Monk), Spring (Oatmeal Pale, Ilkley Brewery), 822 (Double IPA, Northern Monk), 3$words (Pale Ale, Kirkstall) and Common Grounds (Coffee Porter, Magic Rock), offerings from Northern Monk and Magic Rock standing up best to the blood and cuts.

3pm, North Brewing Company, Leeds

John Gyngell (Founder) and Sebastian Brink (Head Brewer) opened the tap bar for a private tasting session. We were overwhelmed by their warmth and passion.

John had built up a solid reputation over decades at North Bar, which is known for pioneering the craft beer scene in Leeds (if not the UK) long before Brewdog came wagging. North Bar steadily expanded to 6 other locations which gives North Brewing Company 7 retail outlets full of customers loyal to their brand and eager to drink their beer.

This isn’t the latest in a string of corporate money pumped beer brands jumping on the craft bandwagon. These are authentic humans who have built success organically over the long term, through attitude and relationships. Old school.

We drink Transmission (West Coast IPA), Piñata (Tropical Pale Ale), Sputnik (American Pale Ale), Herzog (Kolsch Style), Full Fathom 5 (Coffee Coconut Porter) and Volta (Blood Orange and Rhubarb Sour).

North Brewing Co team at work

Transmission gets us revved, Sputnik sends us into orbit and Pinata lands us on a tropical beach. We stock up on all 3.

We float the concept of a collaboration facility where the brewers we meet on our travels can join us in developing experimental small batch beers for our crate. John and Sebastian are into it. They send us on to The Brunswick.

5pm, The Brunswick, Leeds

3 floors, art gallery, exhibition space, modern gastro pub menu and enough craft beer to sink our ship. North Brewing feature alongside Magic Rock and Northern Monk but we are keen to taste some lesser known local flavours so we strike up a conversation with owner Samuel who lines up Wilde Childe (Kirkstall), Eyes (Nomadic) and Ridgeside (Leeds) all coming straight outa Yorkshire. We hit triple pay dirt and begin stalking all three brewers on Twitter.

We discover Pushing Boundaries (Wilde Child Brewing), at The Brunswick

6.30pm, North Bar, Leeds

The old and experienced star of the Yorkshire craft beer scene. North Bar was coming off the back of a Belgian special weekend and some bright spark thought it would be a good idea to order 21% Belgian IPA.

Detour to Belgium

7.45pm, Tall Boys Beer Market, Leeds

Our conga pulls into the cobbled arcade of Tall Boys Beer Market where a silver tongued sommelier shares his local tips and fills our bags with a selection from Ridgeside Brewing.

Growler Refills at Tall Boys Beer Market

“Feed me before something bad happens” says Chris and we head for Bundobust (Craft Beer and Vegetarian Indian Street Food). Sag paneer salvation but 2 blocks away.

8.30pm, Bundobust, Leeds

It’s no secret that beer and curry are good pals, but when you inject them with organic vegetarian freshness and accelerate their particles through a techni-coloured dining shed you end up in the Bombay Valhalla that is Bundobust. Ghee Whizz.

Everything with extra okra fries

We order everything on the menu with extra okra fries and wash it down with a heady blend of tropical ales, saisons and DIPA’s. If you ever take a craft beer road trip though Leeds, make sure you close out at Bundobust.

Day 3

8.30am, Tambourine Cafe, Saltaire

Smashed avo on toast with oat milk lattes and we’re back in the game. On the next table Oly (Radio Leeds) interviews Jez (Edward Street Bakery). Jack explains our project and Jez invites us to swing by his craft bakery later.

We head to Ilkley and are joined by Darren (keen home brewer and Crafted Crate subscriber).

10.30am, Ilkley Brewery, Ilkley

Luke Raven took majority ownership in August 2015 and set out a bold new vision. In a business which is 90% cleaning, Luke talks about the importance of attention to detail and how a lack of care in delivery vans or marketing approach will show up as a lack of care in production which means bad beer. Ilkley Brewery recently received the SALSA accreditation, one of only 11 breweries to have achieved the highest standard. This commitment to rigorous standards means consistently great beer. The Lotus (IPA) and Alpha Beta (Session IPA) we featured in a previous crate is testament to that.

Luke dances by the malt

11.45am, The Curious Hop, Otley

We take the big camera and tripod for an interview with Marcus, rumoured to be a true champion of Yorkshire beer craft. He talks us through the local beer-scape and picks out his Yorkshire dozen for the camera. Wilde Childe gets another thumbs up along with Ridgeside and Ghost Brew Co, the zeitgeist brewers we are closing in on.

Badass Yorkshire section in The Curious Hop

Fish, chips, mushy peas and we’re off to Kirkstall where we find original Wilde Child Keir negotiating a hop deal in his garage.

2pm, Wilde Child Brewing, Kirkstall

Strong beard, snapback, branded hoodie, garage a meticulous meth lab of stainless steel, well ordered ingredients and studied recipes. Keir is following his dream.

Home brewer Darren is gobsmacked, his questions come thick and fast, Keir’s responses inspiring Darren to buy his Grainmaster and take the leap into commercial production.

In Keir’s house we find bags of malt, hops, yeast and paperwork competing for space with his understanding wife and young family. We procure a consignment of Pushing Boundaries (8.1% Double IPA) and The Expatriate (4.5% Session IPA).

Keir following his dream

As we fist bump goodbyes a courier pulls up and Keir signs for a parcel of rare yeast. He winks and remarks “hashtag haze”. The experience is reminiscent of scoring quality dope ahead of a big night out. This is what we came for.

4.00pm, Edward Street Bakery, Saltaire

There’s a hop sock in the flour, caramalt in the bread, and Northern Monk founder Russell Bisset living next door which all make for seamless beer-bread collaborations. It smells so good we start licking the walls.

Grumpy John (local cider legend) is in town so Jez carves freshly baked cider bread, charcuterie from local butcher David Lishman (who brines his hams in beer) and we raise glasses of craft cider to the collaborative spirit of artisanal Yorkshire independents.

Jez and Jack share Grumpy John on Edward Street

5.00pm, Saltaire Brewery, Shipley

Delightful spot by the canal for an early evening tipple. In the tap room Gentleman Sam prepares us a tasting flight. The Black IPA, Citra Pale and Imperial Stout were all very good.

5 brown bottles, standing in a row

Day 4

Ridgeside for breakfast and it’s time to find the elusive Ghost so we plug in the coordinates and drive around in circles for 30 minutes before finally noticing a spectral keg peering out from behind a black transit van.

9.30am, Ghost Brew Co, Baildon

Front man James is a class act. A tall slim Ricky Gervais sporting an encyclopaedia of one liners. As wing man Steve works the experimental brew tools with a Mackenzie Crook intensity we grasp the chemistry behind their killer brews Phantom (5.3% IPA) and Banshee (5.2% Indian Rye Ale). Their recipes are perfected on small batch kit and are then contract brewed elsewhere which keeps their core team focussed on experimentation and innovation.

Who ya gonna call?

According to James “The Banshee had been getting bummed off taps all over town” which we took to mean he was out of stock. Chris negotiates first dibs on next weeks batch which James agrees to send on.

11.45am, Six Poor Folk, Knaresborough

Craft beer lovers Roger and Erica Thorpe invite us to join them for lunch at the restaurant they recently took over, Six Poor Folk. Roger pours Twenty Four Seven (a Session IPA made less than a mile away by Roosters) and we talk Yorkshire Beer.

At the table Roger opens a red wine barrel aged chocolate porter from Cloudwater he’s been saving for a special occasion and recommends pairing it with black pudding goats cheese bonbon and beer braised ox cheek. We lick the plates clean and muse over how long it will be before Michelin starred restaurants ditch wine in favour of beer for menu pairings. Maybe this is the future for Six Poor Folk.

A match made in heaven

We apologise to Erica, put a sack over Rogers head, bundle him into the wagon and screech off in pursuit of the fabled Nitro.

3pm, Eyes Brewing, Acaster Malibs

Cuckoo brewing at Ainsty Ales for the day we locate the man behind the Nitro Milch Weisse everyone is raving about. No beard or snapback but brewer Chris fizzed with the same passion we saw in Wilde Child brewer Keir the day before. Chris also designs the cans. Primary colours and shapes bestowing the classic 80s arcade game feel.

Yeah…..We got the Nitro!!!

We lunge in celebration and load 10 boxes of Nitro, a dark schops brewed with Lactose and proof that creativity needs constraint. Roger couldn’t believe we’d unearthed such a gem right on his doorstep and took a card to arrange a supply for his restaurant.

Celebratory lunge with the Eyes guys

4.00pm, Mission Accomplished

Crate full. The 12 locked in and it’s off to York for a celebratory pub crawl led by our hostage Roger. We include highlights because when you find yourself in York, they will come in handy.

4.30pm, Star Inn the City, York

Riverside restaurant owned by Michelin Star chef Andrew Pern adorned with copper tanks full of unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell. It’s full bodied, flavour packed, creamy and good. Pilsner Urquell have re-imagined the entire supply chain. The tanks and pipes add to both pub aesthetic and beer quality. Inspiring.

5.30pm, Pavement Vaults

Rogers former employers concept of craft beer and BBQ food is a hit with the locals. And with us. Our thoughts turn to Manchester, we drink Cloudwater and ABC Brewing.

7.00pm, Shambles Tavern

We arrive in a shambles, drink favourites from Ridgeside Brewery with Landlord Terry and leave in a shambles.

9.15pm, Pivni

World beer house. 4 DIPA’s please Beth.

10pm, Falcon Tap

Former Micklegate dive bar undergoing gentrification no thanks to us.

11.30pm, Chez Roger

Roger invites us back, Russ orders pizza, we drink Transmission from North Brew Co and pass out.

The Yorkshire Crate: A box of the beers that made the cut

Yorkshires Upcoming Breweries: The ones to watch

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Next Month, Manchester