28 September 2019 / Phil Saltonstall
BIGGER PICTURE 6 & 7 – SMUGGLERS & WRECKERS, WEREWOLF VS GYTRASH
So you wait patiently for the next tile in our Yorkshire legends treasure map, and then two come along at once. Artist Claudia Bowler has again produced beautiful illustrations for the northeast coast and the North Yorkshire moors.
BP6 is a pineapple Hefeweizen. We like to use fruit in our beers and saw an opportunity to marry pineapple (added directly into the kettle) with the banana esters that are associated with Hefeweizen fermentation. This portion of the map is dominated by the North Sea, where the iffy entrepreneurship of smuggling and wrecking prevailed. Yorkshire’s coastline is ideal for smuggling, with miles of quiet beaches where contraband could be landed, and caves for its storage. Villagers were insular and wary of customs men from the outside, so they kept their mouths shut and took the smugglers’ backhanders. Deliberate wrecking of ships to steal their precious cargo is also well documented. Trade in tea was the original high value product, but the activities continue today with certain highly taxed or illegal goods.
BP7 is a blueberry Berliner Weisse – a relatively low alcohol sour beer style. We’ve imaged North Yorkshire’s most famous dog or Grimm, meeting its most famous wolf. The North Yorkshire Moors teem with myths, legends and fantastical creatures. Most famously, the Gytrash: a legendary black dog that was said to haunt lonely roads awaiting travelers and leading people astray – but could also be benevolent and guide lost travelers to the right road. And, of course, a visiting American werewolf that eventually made its way to London… Claudia Bowler’s can art also features Count Dracula, who famously arrived in the UK at Whitby. Dracula’s true vampiric nature is displayed (or not!) in the mirror held by the Merman of Skinningrove – who was said to have come ashore in the village in 1530.
Armed with these two portions of the map – and with only two more tiles to go – treasure hunters are closing-in on the hidden gold!
25 July 2019 / Phil Saltonstall
BIGGER PICTURE 5 – ‘WARE OUTLAWS
We’re heading into South Yorkshire for the next instalment of the Bigger Picture treasure map. ‘Ware is the old English abbreviation for ‘Beware’. Artist Claudia Bowler has rendered Sheffield as a place of dark satanic mills, and foregrounded the characters of Dick Turpin and Robin Hood. Professional historians consider that Robin Hood’s origins are certainly Yorkshire, arguing that much of the dialect associated with the figure has a Yorkshire basis and that Sherwood Forest is only mentioned in one of his stories. The implication is that Robin Hood plied his redistributive trade in South Yorkshire. Meanwhile, that most well-known of the infamous highway robbers began his career in London and Essex, before undertaking a fictional 200 mile overnight ride to Yorkshire on his horse, Black Bess. Turpin assumed the alias ‘John Palmer’ whilst in Yorkshire and was taken into custody in Beverley, before his true identity was revealed by a letter that he wrote from his cell in York Castle. Shortly thereafter, he was tried and hanged at Knavesmire, then buried in York.
‘Ware Outlaws is the fifth can in our ‘Bigger Picture’ project. Bigger Picture is a celebration of the legends, myths and fantastical creatures of Yorkshire. It’s also a treasure map, that will build over nine vastly different 440ml cans of beer and will point to one location in Yorkshire where a serious bounty is cached. We will launch the next beer in the series every month-6 weeks.
Cheers, Phil Brass Castle
31 May 2019 / Phil Saltonstall
BIGGER PICTURE 4 – KINGDOM OF THE SPARKLE PONY
The Northwest fringes of Yorkshire have always been protected by unicorns or sparkle ponies, from raids by marauding Scots. The Scottish raiders were so impressed by the tenacity of their colourful foes in the unicorns’ native woodlands and upland areas of North Yorkshire, that they made the unicorn the symbol of Scotland: a natural enemy of the English lion.
There is little evidence of actual unicorns having existed. Indeed, most bone that was peddled as unicorn horn was later revealed to have come from narwhals – which is why the marine mammals feature on the can label! One might wonder why the supposed animals came to be called ‘unicorns’ and not ‘unihorns’. This is because the old English pronunciation of h is not the same as the modern way of speaking. The letter h was pronounced much more closely to “ch”, as it would be pronounced in Loch Ness. Carrying the same sound into our modern language produces a word sounding like corn, not horn. Although stories of unicorns might be considered pure myth, there are numerous credible reports and documented sightings of outsized, pure, colourful sparkle ponies across Yorkshire – but particularly in the Northwest.
‘Kingdom Of The Sparkle Pony’ is the fourth can in our ‘Bigger Picture’ project – a 2.8% candy floss table beer. Gluten-free, of course. Bigger Picture is our ongoing celebration of the legends, myths and fantastical creatures of Yorkshire. It’s also a treasure map, that will build over nine vastly different 440ml cans of beer and will point to one location in Yorkshire where a serious bounty is cached.
Peel the labels off – get some perspective – follow the clues and hunt the treasure!
Cheers, Phil Brass Castle
28 March 2019 / Phil Saltonstall
BIGGER PICTURE 3 – MONSTERS OF THE DEEP
‘Monsters Of The Deep’ is the third can in our new ‘Bigger Picture’ project – a 6.5% molé stout, with ancho chillis & a touch of cinnamon. And of course, it’s gluten free. Bigger Picture is our ongoing celebration of the legends, myths and fantastical creatures of Yorkshire. It’s also a treasure map, that will build over nine vastly different 440ml cans of beer and will point to one location in Yorkshire where a serious bounty is cached.
Long before anyone had heard of a beast in Loch Ness, 1920s Hull lived in fear of a man-eating sea monster. First accounts of Humber estuary sea serpents appear in the Hull press from 1816 – and reports continue to this day. Meanwhile, Claudia Bowler’s latest fabulous artwork also references the importance of the polar bear in West Hull and the stories of a Pig Man of East Hull. The good folk of Lincolnshire don’t come out of this illustration too well, but then they’re not in Yorkshire – so turnip-eating goblins looks about right.
Another six beers are coming in the series, and the clues hidden in the label designs all point to one staffed location. The first person to approach the staff there with the combined clues will receive the treasure, which – in keeping with a treasure map – is solid, genuine gold. They can do as they wish with that, or we can donate it to charity on their behalf – it’s entirely up to them. Subsequent claimants will receive a smaller token award.
Peel the labels off – get some perspective – follow the clues and hunt the treasure!
Cheers, Phil Brass Castle
25 March 2019 / Ellis Walsh
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S COLLABORATION BREWDAY!
For the second year in a row we are thrilled to have been part of such a massive movement. Every year, breweries across the world participate in International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day, coinciding with International Women’s Day on 8th March. Whether these are big mass-producing breweries or brewsters pursuing a hobby on a home kit, everyone is welcome to take part, and are warmly encouraged to do so. “The aim of the day is for women who are passionate about beer to get together and brew”.
Each year sees a different theme and this year was all about Foraging. This presented some exciting opportunities for us – a chance to brew something we at Brass Castle hadn’t tried before, plus a chance to look into some local history and produce a fairly old style of beer.
Captain James Cook was an expert explorer and adventurer, sailing the seas and discovering the world. On his adventures, Cook and his crew found themselves exploring the beautiful coasts of New Zealand. A long time at sea takes its toll however, and the crew found themselves at the mercy of a disease well-known amongst sailors: scurvy. Cook came up with an ingenious method of preventing scurvy, much to the delight of his men. He brewed a Spruce Ale, using pine trees from an island called Dusky Bay just off the New Zealand coast. This style has been replicated many times over the years since its invention in the 18th century and we’re pleased to have been able to add our own twist to it.Since the theme for this year’s IWCBD was Foraging, it was only right that we foraged the main ingredient ourselves. So we took our cutters and some good walking shoes, and went on our way deep into Dalby Forest to forage our all-important spruce! We didn’t let the miserable weather stop us enjoying the excursion. Sam, our head brewer and resident botanist, even found time to monkey about in the trees to find the best possible cuttings.
While we were at Dalby Forest, we coincidentally found a very appropriate monument. This statue was given to the Forestry Commission as a memorial to the ‘Lumberjills’, who took on the logging industry during World War 2.
For the brewday itself on Friday 8th March, we had the great pleasure of welcoming Jackie Rogers (Half Moon Brewery) and Sue Simpson (Brown Cow Brewery) to be our expert Brewsters for the day. Also participating: Accounts wonder Lesley and her friend Alex, our Taphouse Manager (me!), plus our friends Nikki and Sam from BrewDog York. Our day began at 7am with mashing-in and found everyone gathered around the mash tun enjoying the beautiful smell of the malts! That was short-lived however, as there was plenty to be done! After a short coffee stop to get everyone up to speed on what we would be doing throughout the day, we were back in the brewery to get stuck in with a typical brewing day. We sorted and prepped our spruce, measured the hops, transferred the beautiful sugary wort into the boil kettle, added the hops, made some messes, cleaned them up (there was a lot of cleaning!), and had a lot of laughs – particularly when fighting with casks while trying to strip and clean them! Overall, an excellent day was had by all, and we’ve got lots of memories and funny photos to show for it.
As mentioned above, there’s an interesting history behind this style of beer – and in naming it we wanted to make a reference to the style’s origins. So, without further ado, we are pleased to share “Dusky Bay” with you – finishing at a comfortable 5.2% and packing a beautiful hoppy punch. Our Spruce IPA is definitely as delicious as we hoped it would be, and we certainly hope you think so too.
Cheers, Ellis Brass Castle
23 March 2019 / Phil Saltonstall
DO YOU REALLY WANT TO OPEN A BREWERY? YOUR MAIN CHALLENGE WILL BE THE FRAGILITY OF SUPPLY LINES
We’re asked almost every day what our advice would be to somebody who is keen to open a new brewery. There are many cautionary strands to the answer, including lines on market saturation, unglamorous working conditions, long hours, low pay and the frustrating opportunity for third parties to screw up your beers before they get to the customer. Alongside all the great things about the industry, the working environment and the product – that we all love to be involved with and wouldn’t swap for anything else. Over time, the most pernicious challenge that we have had to deal with as we grow, is the fragility of our supply chain. It’s a significant problem, because it can put us out of business in a couple of weeks.
We all saw an instance of this problem in 2018 when suddenly there was a scarcity of CO2. Local bars began asking us to put our Helles Lager into cask, because they could not source serving gas! It is going back a while, but the hop crisis of 2007 rolled some breweries over (whilst elevating Simcoe and Sorachi Ace to star status!). A brewery of our acquaintance was very nearly put out of business a few months back, because the planned delivery of printed cans for their flaghip brand was put back by three weeks. When there are only two can manufacturers out there, your options to plug the gap when one supplier fails to meet their contracted responsibility are limited.
When Brass Castle moved to Malton in 2014, having formerly brewed in a garage and on Lord Halifax’s marvellous copper estate brewhouse, we scratched around for as much money as we could muster to get ourselves off to a good start. We decided to buy a quantity of GPS plastic casks costing £9,500. We paid for the casks, embossed with our brewery details and colours to guard against loss. The casks finally arrived, but unfortunately without the embossing we had asked for. We sent the casks back to GPS to be fixed. And we never saw them again. Or the £9,500. GPS went into liquidation and took our money with them. Now they trade under the Emmerald brand. That was pretty much Day 1 of Brass Castle in Malton and far from a good way to start.
More recently, we have struggled with suppliers who promise one item of equipment and then either don’t deliver it or provide you with something more expensive. One supplier overcharged us by exactly £10,000, but hid the fact in an invoice with the promise of extra kit that never arrived. That supplier has admitted their ‘mistake’, but we are still struggling to get that money back. We simply do not have the reserves of capital to deal with ‘errors’ of that magnitude. Meanwhile, we’ve had industry-recognised installers recklessly damage our equipment and refuse responsibility, for either the damage itself or the enforced delay to our brewing process. We have also had to turn back industry-recognised installers at the brewhouse door because they are, apparently unknowingly, attempting to bring hazardous chemicals into a food environment – when there are food-safe alternatives designed for that use. In our experience, the single most important cautionary tale to the would-be brewer is: beware the fragility of your supply lines and be ready to query, oversee and triple-check everything that a supposed industry expert supplier is providing you with.
All of which is to say: if you’re thinking about establishing a new brewery, because you’d love to be part of the beer industry – then please seriously consider the possibility of starting a business in the industry supply chain, because the opportunities for good operators are plainly there. I have to believe that a reliable and professional supplier will always do well in our world, and will certainly win a lot of friends in a friendly industry.Cheers, Phil Brass Castle
28 February 2019 / Phil Saltonstall
NERAX, CAMRA, GBBF & TRANSATLANTIC CASK BEER TRANSFER
Every year, there’s an unseemly rush of British brewers to the first sessions at the Great British Beer Festival – drawn like Bisto kids to the promise of American cask beer. The US cask beer is always the first to run out. Our very own CAMRA works with its sister organisation, the New England Real Ale Exhibition (NERAX), to distribute casks among US brewers and then collect and ship them to London Olympia. The incentive for American brewers is the chance to win a CAMRA GBBF gong, but also the opportunity to engage with the cask beer format and all the flavour enhancements it makes available. They also get the chance to prove, decisively, that there is no issue with cask beer ‘travelling’ when it moves by cold chain distribution.
NERAX does a huge amount of work, moving casks across the US, providing advice on cask conditioning and recovering beers to GBBF. In addition, it helps with the day-to-day marketing and husbandry of locally-produced cask beers that appear on bars across New England. NERAX is a collection of cask beer enthusiasts, which is similar in many respects to CAMRA. Indeed, CAMRA provides training to NERAX personnel on the conduct of beer festivals. One key difference is the number of brewer members and volunteers with NERAX, and I think that this is testament to the fact that many American craft brewers agree with the CAMRA principle that cask beer represents ‘the pinnacle of the brewer’s art’.
When those casks at GBBF have been emptied, it wouldn’t make much sense to send them back to the US without beer in. At NERAX cask beer festivals in April (Boston) and November (Salem), British cask beer is showcased alongside local cask beers. CAMRA and a bunch of willing UK breweries collate a variety of cask beers that head across the pond during March. Brass Castle is heavily involved in the logistics, alongside Brecon, Loch Lomond, Thameside and Papworth breweries – drawing casks from across the UK. The end result is a range of beers from dozens of British breweries, alongside many more US cask beers, at festivals in South Boston and Salem that would rival any CAMRA event.
So if you think you’re a well-travelled cask beer festival patron, then you had better think about expanding your horizons to New England.Cheers, Phil Brass Castle
8 February 2019 / Phil Saltonstall
BIGGER PICTURE 2 – THE WESTERN WALL
Our latest Bigger Picture beer is now available, giving another tantalising clue to the location in Yorkshire where we have hidden a bag of gold – just waiting for someone to claim it.
‘The Western Wall’ is a delicious sweet strudel weissebier. Apple and cinnamon are to the fore – overlaying the more regular phenolic and estery notes expected of a wheat beer. Vegan and gluten-free, naturally.
This label features some of the myths and legends to the West of Yorkshire and celebrates the Western Wall of the Pennines as a bulwark against the badlands of Lancashire. The image focuses on the story of the Cottingley faeries and imagines a doorway into the ether world of rock monsters, goat lords and other grey folk. The drowned village of Semer Water also features. And of course, there are clues… Another 7 beers are coming in the series, and the clues hidden in the label designs all point to one staffed location. The first person to approach the staff there with the combined clues will receive the treasure, which – in keeping with a treasure map – is solid, genuine gold. They can do as they wish with that, or we can donate it to charity on their behalf – it’s entirely up to them. Subsequent claimants will receive a smaller token award.
Cheers, Phil Brass Castle
7 December 2018 / Phil Saltonstall
BIGGER PICTURE PROJECT – THE GAME IS AFOOT!
Adventurers and beer drinkers will encounter serpents, sea monsters, dragons and vampires in their search for gold, thanks to a unique new treasure hunt launched in the region’s food and drink capital.
Brass Castle Brewery, in Malton, has researched legends and myths from Yorkshire folklore through the centuries for its new Bigger Picture project.
Over the next 12 months, the brewery will revive the stories through a series of nine canned beers, the labels of which can be pieced together to form a fantasy map of Yorkshire, giving clues to a final treasure spot. The artwork has all been created by Leeds-based Claudia Bowler.
The label for the first beer features the Slingsby Serpent, and will be launched this week, almost exactly 400 years on from the earliest surviving account of the local wyvern (or dragon).
In 1619, the antiquary Roger Dodsworth recounted the story of a serpent having lived in a recess near the village of Slingsby. It was said the villagers re-routed the road to avoid its lair, before it was slain by a member of the local Wyville family.
Phil Saltonstall, owner and founder of Brass Castle Brewery, the country’s foremost producer of vegan and gluten-free craft beer, said: “The team came up with the idea of a number of labels that could be combined into a bigger picture. I’m a big map fan so it struck me that a treasure map idea would be fun. Because the map builds over nine labels, it’s easier to hide clues that only really come together once all the labels are combined.
“Once I’d begun to think of treasure maps, we started to think of sea monsters and other legendary creatures that cartographers often imagined into their work, and I was absolutely delighted to realise that Yorkshire folklore is awash with legends and mythical creatures that we could recall within this.“It has been fascinating to research all the stories and we are also pleased to place Malton prominently within the map, characterised by a Brass Castle. Malton is Yorkshire’s Food Capital and annually becomes BEERTOWN after all – that’s why the first beer is called ‘Where’s Malton?’
“The clues hidden in the label designs all point to one staffed location, and staff there know they are the finishing point. The first person to approach the staff there with the combined clues will receive the treasure, which – in keeping with a treasure map – is solid, genuine gold. They can do as they wish with that, or we can donate it to charity on their behalf – it’s entirely up to them. Subsequent claimants will receive a smaller token award.”
Sir Gary Verity DL, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire said: “What a fantastic initiative led by the award-winning Brass Castle Brewery, incorporating Yorkshire folklore with Yorkshire beer! Yorkshire pubs are known for being the heart of a community, so I’m certain that this project will add a unique new dimension to conversation over a beer! I’m looking forward to visiting Malton to find one for myself.”
Tom Naylor-Leyland, the driving force behind Malton’s foodie revolution said: “What a fantastic and creative idea. I can’t wait to see and taste what Brass Castle have got in store for us. New craft beer, sea serpents and all ‘Made In Malton’. What’s not to like?
”The first beer, Where’s Malton? – an Ekuanot and Amarillo-hopped DDH Pale Ale – is launched this week and others will follow roughly every six weeks for the next year. Deerstalkers on and magnifying glasses at the ready – the game is afoot!
Cheers, Phil Brass Castle
21 November 2018 / Phil Saltonstall
POTLUCK AT THE TAPHOUSE – SATURDAY 1 DECEMBERThe table’s laid! Join us at the Taphouse for a potluck event from 1200-1600 on Saturday December 1st. The theme is a Thanksgiving-style sit-together.
On our recent trip to New England we met members of the Mashpee Wampanoag – the tribe that welcomed the first pilgrim colonists in 1620 – and decided that we should also get ready for winter by hosting a collective dining experience at our place. All we need from you, is a dish or two. The bar will be open, and everyone who brings food will get a free pint (or equivalent) on us. What you need to know… – The whole fun of a potluck is that you get to try a variety of new dishes that you couldn’t possibly find anywhere else and that we all eat together. Plus, you get some free beers on us! – Be aware of possible dietary restrictions and please be ready to indicate:
a. If the dishes that you bring are suitable for vegans, vegetarians or contain meat. b. If the dishes you bring contain allergens, such as milk, tree nuts or celery.
– The Taphouse does not have an oven for reheating; but it does have a microwave.
– You can bring any course: starter, main, side dish or dessert. – Top tips:
a. It is best to bring something that you enjoy eating. Just in case nothing else takes your fancy, you can always eat what you brought! b. As a rough guide, a sharing dish means enough for twelve servings. That translates to a 9″ x 12″ (200 mm by 300 mm) Pyrex baking dish, or a salad with 2 heads of lettuce. c. Please bring food in a real serving dish; that is to say: pottery. It is far better than plastic. This may be a potluck and it may be a picnic, but it’s not a refugee camp :-). It’s also worth sticking your name and contact details to your crockery, to ensure that the serving dish gets back to you should you leave without it. Please don’t bring something in a family heirloom and spend the afternoon worrying about the crockery’s safety. d. Please bring an appropriate serving utensil. e. Bring dishes that you can eat off a plate (rather than soups/stews).
See you there!
28 August 2018 / Phil Saltonstall
WOODEN BARRELS FROM MAINE – THE SKINNY
The Maine Beer Box has arrived in the UK and we’ll all get the chance to enjoy some fabulous keg beer from a swathe of great Maine breweries at the Leeds International Beer Fest. Travelling in the refrigerated Maine Beer Box, alongside the kegs, are 24 wooden barrels – each one containing 55L or 110pints of completely unique beer. We’re really proud of this side-project that we’ve worked on together with River Drive Cooperage from Maine and the Maine Brewers Guild. Here’s the skinny on what’s scheduled to go where:
York CAMRA Beer & Cider Festival: Sep 19-22
- Banded Horn Brewing – Green Warden 5.6% (Spruce Ale, gin barrel)
- Cushnoc Brewing – Deep Thoughts & Sensitive Conversations 10% (Belgian Quad, rum barrel)
- Fore River Brewing – Kolsh 5.6% (tequila barrel)
- Funky Bow Brewing – Pale Ale 5.5% (bourbon barrel)
- Geary Brewing – Hampshire Special Pale Ale 7.0% (bourbon barrel)
- Moderation Brewing – Box Shop Girls Stout 6.1% (maple syrup barrel)
- Rising Tide Brewing – Fruited IPA 1 5.0% (guava & pineapple IPA, rum barrel)
- Tributary Brewing – Oatmeal Stout 6.5% (mezcal barrel)
Dreadnought Leith (event timing tbc)
- Dirigo Brewing – Maine Pilsner 5.2% (Dad’s Hat rye whiskey barrel)
- Rising Tide Brewing – Back Cove 5.1% (Pilsner, gin barrel)
Nottingham CAMRA Beer & Cider Festival: Oct 17-20
- Banded Horn Brewing – Green Warden 5.6% (Spruce Ale, mezcal barrel)
- Cushnoc Brewing – SturgeonFox 5.8% (Dry-hopped Wild Pale Ale, Journeyman rye whiskey barrel)
- Dirigo Brewing – Black Lager 5.5% (maple syrup barrel)
- Fore River Brewing – John Henry Milk Stout 5.2% (Dad’s Hat rye whiskey barrel)
- Funky Bow Brewing – Kolsch 6.5% (Dad’s Hat rye whiskey barrel)
- Geary Brewing – Pale Ale 5.2% (bourbon barrel)
- Hidden Cove Brewing – Imperial Porter 8.5% (bourbon barrel)
- Moderation Brewing – Box Shop Girls Stout 6.1% (bourbon barrel)
- Rising Tide Brewing – Mockingfish 3.9% (Seawater Gose, tequila barrel)
- Rising Tide Brewing – Nikita 9.8% (Russian Imperial Stout, Journeyman rye whiskey barrel)
- Urban Farm Fermentory – Rye Amber Ale 5.0% (Journeyman rye whiskey barrel)
- Urban Farm Fermentory – Dry Cidah 6.5% (rum barrel)
- Urban Farm Fermentory – Semi Sweet Mead 10% (rum barrel)
If you want to try some of this absolutely one-off, you-can’t-get-it-anywhere-else beer, straight from the barrel; then make your plans now!
1 August 2018 / Phil Saltonstall
Given everything that’s going on in the news, it’s never been more important for us all to keep talking and sharing ideas. We’ve always been convinced that beer and the local pub plays a huge role in that process. So on August 16th we’re starting our Taphouse ‘Think Tank‘ series – with special guest moderator Professor Barry Doyle from the University of Huddersfield. It’s a ticketed event – for a very reasonable four quid, and we’ll lay on a free pint and a selection of pizzas for everyone who signs-up. Thinking is allowed and discussion is encouraged. This is how it works:The Think Tank session starts at 1900 in the Taphouse. We invite participants to suggest topics for discussion, the options are put to a vote and then we make a start with the most popular topic. Professor Doyle is on hand to keep the discussion going, play devil’s advocate and add historical context – and that really is his forte. Once a subject is exhausted, we move onto the next. We might even take a Taphouse vote or two. The first rule of Think Tank is that everyone’s opinion is worth hearing and that being deliberately offensive is uncool. The second rule of Think Tank is that everyone’s opinion is worth hearing and that being deliberately offensive is uncool. The third rule of Think Tank is: do not talk over the person who is speaking. It’s that easy. So sign-up and bring your brains along. It’s your chance to have your say, hear what others think and challenge or agree where you see fit. Get your tickets here.
19 July 2018 / Phil Saltonstall
MAINE BEER BOX
Picture a 40′ refrigerated container, full of beer from the US state of Maine, with taps down the side ready to pour. That’s what the marvellous Maine Brewers Guild have created, and once a year they send it around the world. This year, it’s coming to the Leeds International Beer Festival. We’ve followed the project from the Box’s first trip to Iceland and we’re converts to the cause. In fact, we like to think that we had something to do with it coming to Yorkshire…
I know what you’re thinking… About time Yorkshire had one of those.
After the success of our US cask beer project last year, we’re now working with a Maine cooperage alongside the Beer Box effort. The cooperage has provided us with a quantity of wooden barrels – infused with gin, mezcal, rye whisky, bourbon, rum, tequila and maple syrup – and we’ve shipped them out to breweries across Maine. Those breweries are filling the barrels now and we aim to bring them to festivals in the UK from the end of September – after the Maine Beer Box has returned to the US. We’ll keep a running commentary of where these fantastic barrels end up. This is Maine beer, barrel-aged and served cask-style. These beers will be absolutely unique. We’re more than a little excited.
8 June 2018 / Amy Pulling
The month of June brings new and exciting brews and experiments, events and PARTIES (stay tuned for news of 10 Squared on the 30th)
As you may already know, the Crowler Club party gave us the chance to hear the voice of the beer-drinker and they certainly didn’t disappoint! As a result of our cask beer-builder challenge, we are now ready to go with Malcolm Hodgson’s idea of a Raspberry and Ginger Farmhouse Saison-style beer which we have called “Mob Rule.”(They were a perfectly behaved mob too – Ed)
We know a LOT of people will be happy to hear we have a large order of Bad Kitty merch on its way. Keep an eye out for announcements to avoid disappointment. We already know they won’t stay on the shelves for long!
Next Friday (15th), we’ll be putting our latest venture, a Lavender Oatmeal Pale Ale, into 440ml cans. Collaborating with our neighbours up at Yorkshire Lavender to get the best of local produce into the beer, we’re really excited about this project so expect to see it plastered all over our social media soon!
In the meantime, why not treat yourself and a fellow Misfit to a Session in the Sunshine? Because Life really is a Beach.
10 May 2018 / Phil Saltonstall
Proof – if it were needed – that Malton can stand with the best of them when it comes to beer. Just look at that group of contributing breweries:
BEERTOWN is run by Malton’s two breweries (the ones that actually brew in the town, rather than re-labelling another brewery’s beer – Ed): Bad Seed and Brass Castle – plus a whole bunch of marvellous volunteers. For no other reason than that we want the community to celebrate great beer in a festival environment. All proceeds go to the Ryedale Special Families charity. Tickets are available online and on the door. An all-inclusive day ticket can also be purchased at the BEERTOWN website. The event will have the same mix of outstanding beer, delicious street food and great live music as previous years – but there are a couple of changes:
1. If you attend wearing fancy dress, then you will be given a voucher for a free pint of beer from Bad Seed or Brass Castle.
2. Instead of a single island bar, this year’s event will feature two bars down either side of the main hall. This will allow more room for seating in the main hall.
3. Bands will play from the main stage, rather than the minstrel’s gallery.
4. York Gin and Sloe Motion will be running a gin bar in the Milton Rooms studio.
5. Staff T-shirts are now red with a yellow design!
Meanwhile, we will try to block out some of what’s going on in the outside world. To this end, there will be no wedding coverage at The People’s Republic of BEERTOWN. Nor will we be streaming any football matches.
The party starts at 5pm next Thursday!
21 Apr 2018 / Phil Saltonstall
THE NOBILITY OF BEER – HERE’S A BIT OF CONTROVERSY
I like wine. But I get very annoyed, very often, by the wine industry – which has been complicit in demeaning the nobility of beer and lied repeatedly about the nutrition available in wine, while creating a huge cadre of wine snob cork-dorks that exhibit some of the worst human characteristics available. Partly, I blame The Bible. Let me explain…
There is evidence of beer dating back as far as 7000BC – long before wine or spirits made an appearance. Arguably, beer was discovered before bread. And like bread, beer is considered to have been responsible for the beginnings of static civilisation. Since women were more often associated with the production of beer, beer deities would usually be feminine. In ancient Sumeria, Ninkasi was the brewing goddess. Her name literally means ‘you who fill my mouth so full’. In ancient Egypt, brewing was part of the civilising god Osiris’s gift to mankind. When humans grew too big for their boots, the lion-headed goddess Sekhmet was sent on a culling rampage and only gave up after being given beer – so that she was too drunk to finish human-kind off! In the Babylonian ‘Epic of Gilgamesh’, the goddess Shamhat gives man his true nature by, among other things, showing him that drinking beer is as thoroughly human an activity as there can be. The connection between women and beer has obtained throughout history.
Sadly, for them, the Romans and Greeks really didn’t have a brewing culture. So the prejudice against beer was born in the part of the world otherwise associated with highbrow philosophy. When The Bible was translated, re-translated and edited by the Romans, the regularly-appearing Hebrew word ‘Shekar’ (beer) suddenly disappears and is often translated as ‘wine’. Thus, the original story tells that Jesus turned water into beer – not wine. Strangely enough, there is no reference to beer in the modern translations of The Bible. And if you think about it, most contemporary cultural/historical references to wine originate in the world’s most read book. It was Roman shorthand when identifying another civilisation as ‘barbarians’, to say of that civilisation that they drank beer and had a woman in charge (cf Cleopatra, or the largely fictional Boudicca). So we shouldn’t be surprised at the Rome-sympathetic re-rendering of God’s text, that makes godly people more Roman-like. Meanwhile, the connection between women and beer continues. Just as The Bible editors took their chance to demean women with the doctrine of Original Sin and the idea of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute; so they also replaced all references to beer in God’s story with references to wine. Beer was therefore reduced to the status of the drink of everyday folk and the lower classes (although ironically, some of the greatest beers ever went on to be brewed in God’s houses – the monasteries and abbeys). On the flip side, it should be noted that even Julius Caesar described the ‘bravest’ barbarians as the ones who were untainted by Roman wines and other alluring luxuries.
Although The Bible tried to expunge the nobility from beer, William Shakespeare repeatedly tried to put it back: “For a quart of ale is a dish fit for a king”, “Would I were in an alehouse in London. I would give all my fame for a pot of ale and safety”. As Roman Catholicism began to lose its grip on Western Europe, so the alternative religions showed a fondness for beer. Martin Luther, for instance, praised a mug of Bock beer as “the best drink known to man”.
None of which is to suggest that we have a messiah complex. Our brewers might turn water, grain and hops into beer… But they are not messiahs. They are however, very naughty boys and girls…
In modern times, even the language associated with beer shows how successfully its nobility has been knocked: ‘lager louts’, ‘beer belly’, ‘beer goggles’ etc. Meanwhile, the wine lobby has fed us rubbish about the nutritional benefits of their drink, cleverly suggesting that it is a healthy alternative. For starters, so-called ‘beer bellies’ are not usually caused by beer, but are more likely caused by sitting at a bar for long periods and eating fatty food. It’s a sad fact of the way that men store fat, that it usually all ends-up around the organs of the gut. In reality, beer has much less sugar in it, while having more selenium, B vitamins, phosphorus, folate and niacin than wine. Beer also has significant protein and some fibre. And it is one of a few significant dietary sources of silicon, which research has shown can help thwart the effects of osteoporosis. Early research has also suggested that beer may contain prebiotics – nourishment for the good bacteria in our gut. As for antioxidants, both beer and wine contain them, though the antioxidants in wine may also not be as readily absorbed as the ones in beer – compounds like ferulic acid. Meanwhile, resveratrol, the molecule in red wine and chocolate once celebrated as a nutritional key to longevity, is not now thought to offer much of a benefit when consumed in the small quantities we typically get from food and drink.
Beer has always been the drink of the people. It is the third-most drunk beverage on the planet, after water and tea. Often safer to drink than water, its nutritional value has literally helped humanity to survive. Beer is approachable and varied. To date, I’ve never felt self-conscious about the choice of beer that I have ordered, in the way that I often do when ordering wine, for fear of ridicule or censure. Beer needs its nobility to be underlined, in the light of constant attempts to demean it, but we must be careful. The worst thing that could happen to us as a result of the ongoing beer renaissance would be for our love of beer to be hi-jacked by the human evil of one-upmanship, assumed status and a desire to do another person down – for us to become a legion of beer snobs.
11 Apr 2018 / Phil Saltonstall
IT’S TEN SQUARED TIME AGAIN! SATURDAY 28 APRIL
We’re delighted to welcome breweries from E17 and N17 to join us at our Malton YO17 Taphouse on Saturday 28 April. This time, our bi-monthly Ten Squared festival will feature superb beers from Wild Card (Walthamstow) and Pressure Drop (Tottenham) – alongside our own Brass Castle back bar.
Both old and new Taphouses on our brewery site will be open, with live music in the Brewhouse. We’ll also be joined by the fabulous Dough ‘N’ Co, with their delish wood-fired sourdough pizzas:
Plenty to go at there. Be sure to leave with a freshly-packaged 440ml can of our Disruptor NEIPA – if there are any left by then…
23 Mar 2018 / Kev Jones
We’re delighted to have picked up SIBA regional Gold awards for Helles (standard strength keg lager & pilsner category) and Misfit (standard strength keg pale ales and bitters category), and then for Misfit to earn Silver at National level. Misfit is our 4.3% rolling hop-swap pale ale, showcasing various hop pairings. Our head brewer Alan really enjoys brewing Misfit, always looking forward to see how each combination turns out.
On March 8th we joined brewers across the globe in the fifth annual International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day. On the day, our team of seven ladies braved the Arctic weather to join us to brew a 4.0% Mango IPL, which will be available through April.
Earlier that week we were joined for a collaborative brew by Stuart and Dave from George and Dragon in Hudswell, CAMRA National Pub of 2017. Between us we’ve concocted Death By Toffee, a 4.8% sticky toffee pudding inspired brown ale. This has just started leaving our cold store, so sure to find its way to a bar near you soon.
We’re also launching our first ever kettle sour; RhüBerlin is a 4.0% rhubarb Berliner Weiss made with fresh Yorkshire rhubarb, with a sharp tart finish.
Landing in April will be 440ml cans of Disruptor, our devilishly drinkable 7.4% New England style IPA. Oh – and like all our cans, they’ll be vegan friendly and gluten-free too.
Last month we hosted our inaugural 10Squared mini beer festival, during which The Kernel Brewery took over our Taphouse for the day, showcasing some of their stunning ales, whilst we opened our former Taproom and rolled out the piano bar for plenty more ales of our own. Smokin’ Blues BBQ parked-up and provided great street food, and one of our Taphouse open-mic favourites Graeme Hargreaves entertained all with a couple of sets. There was a cracking turn out, and the vibe was so lively that England’s capitulation in the rugby that afternoon almost went unnoticed.
On 31st March we’re swinging our brewery doors open again at 10am for our annual Crowler Club party. Forecasts are predicting music, beer, films, beer, tacos, beer, seminars, beer. Did we mention beer?
Getting out and about, we’re looking forward to a trip up to Newcastle for a tap takeover at Crown Posada on 30th March, whilst on 29th April the iconic Stalybridge Buffet Bar have kindly offered us their taps.
16 Mar 2018 / Phil Saltonstall
CROWLER CLUB PARTY!!!!! SATURDAY 31 MARCHIt’s party time! We’re throwing the doors open on Saturday 31 March for our first Crowler Club party and all club members are invited. The Taphouse will be open as usual for all-comers, and the fabulous Tacoporium are bringing their ‘Squarestream’ full of Latin American delights:
If you’re a Crowler Club member, it gets even better… – The beers are on us.- Enjoy our three newest beers: RhüBerlin, Death by Toffee, and Mango Pils (brewed for IWCBD).- Birds and Beasts will be rocking the brewhouse with their distinctive sound.- Brewery tours.- Beer seminars: ‘What’s in beer?’, ‘Why and how to sour’, ‘The Noble History of Beer’, ‘Recognising off-flavours’, ‘Is Real Ale really what we want?’- An opportunity to decide what our June special cask beer will be.- Film showings: we’ll have a mini-cinema on the go, showing some of our favourite films.
Standby for the full schedule. It’s not even a school night – so get involved!
21 Feb 2018 / Phil Saltonstall
INTERNATIONAL WOMENS COLLABORATION BREW DAY…On March 8th we’ll join brewers across the globe in the fifth annual International Womens Collaboration Brew Day: https://unitebrew.org. The Brew Day coincides with International Womens Day and aims to bring together women who are passionate about beer. This year’s theme is ‘Exotic’ and hundreds of breweries around the world will participate. At least eight ‘Brass-Castle-brewsters-for-the-day’ – publicans, brewsters, active CAMRA members and local professionals – will join our own Alice, Amy and Ellis in the brewhouse on Thursday 8th, to create a Mango Pilsner that will become available in April. To meet the theme requirements, we’re planning for the beer to be close to an ‘IPL’ in nature, with a hefty slug of New World hops accompanying fresh mango into the mix. March 8th is a great opportunity to celebrate the role of women in brewing and hopefully to bring some new faces into contact with the brewing process. In a former life, I used to draft and lead negotiations on the annual UN Security Council Presidential Statement for International Womens Day. Far better now to be able to see real people getting really involved! It’s also good for some people in, or associated with, the beer industry, to be reminded of the engagement and involvement of women in bringing beer to the drinker. Embarassingly, we are only now beginning to get some traction against lazy sexism in beer marketing. I don’t wholly blame the industry, as that approach is clearly designed to satisfy a swathe of ignorant, unreconstructed and dim male consumers. There’s no excuse for pandering to them and fuelling the prejudice, but the prejudice is plainly still latent in society – otherwise drinkers would have long since shut down the ‘Top Totty’ pumpclip nonsense. It’s worth reminding those folks who get-off on suggestive pics and leering taglines that neither beer nor the bar are just the ‘locker room’ province of men. Women have always drunk beer too, and have probably through history been more involved in its production than men. Respect is due. That’s what we’ll be doing on March 8th, and every other day this year.
12 Feb 2018 / Phil Saltonstall
GLUTEN-FREE BEER…We’re delighted to announce that we have had two beers shortlisted as finalists for this year’s Free From Awards 2018: Sunshine IPA and Bad Kitty vanilla porter. The evidence from the shortlist is that more UK breweries (Bellfield, Magic Rock, Brewdog, Black Isle, Hop Back, Greene King and many more besides) are engaging with the idea of gluten-free beer and helping make beer safely accessible to more people. From December 2017 we began to produce all our beers to a gluten-free recipe. Until we manage to generate our own laboratory testing regimes in-house, it is still prohibitively expensive (in the very price sensitive world of beer sales) to test each individual ‘gyle’ or batch of keg and cask beer. Therefore, although all our beers are brewed to a gluten-free recipe; only our canned beers and cask/keg Hoptical Illusion are currently certified gluten-free. Barley and wheat both contain gluten. One way of creating gluten-free beer has been to avoid those ingredients altogether – switching them out for maize, oats or sorghum for instance. Early versions of Brass Castle’s Hoptical Illusion incorporated an all-sorghum grain bill. The trouble is, that beer only tastes recognisably ‘beery’ to some people if it contains barley and wheat. After some research, we now achieve certified gluten-free status for Hoptical Illusion and our cans of Bad Kitty/Sunshine/Helles Lager/Hoptical Illusion by using a protease enzyme – added in a tiny amount during fermentation (45ml in 2000L). Marvellously, it contains an enzyme isolated from a self-cloned strain of the mould Aspergillus niger – making it vegan/vegetarian friendly. Some breweries use it to reduce protein haze; but a lovely side-effect is a reduction in dissolved gluten. Our certified gluten-free beers are tested through Brewlab in Sunderland, using the competitive ELISA testing protocol – which is the most accurate testing method available. Happily, we’ve experienced no flavour penalty in adding this brewhouse step that renders beer gluten-free. Beer that has fewer than 20 ppm (parts per million) gluten can be certified gluten-free and safe for coeliacs, according to the Codex Alimentarius international standard. Most beers are nearly gluten-free anyway, so a very minor recipe change is all that is needed to ensure gluten-free status. Our beers have continued to garner awards in blind-tastings since we began making all our recipes gluten-free. For instance: Helles Lager won SIBA UK Champion Lager in 2016 and SIBA UK Champion Small Pack (can) Lager in 2017 – without the judges being aware of its gluten-free status. Bad Kitty (gluten-free recipe) was voted Runner-up Beer of the Festival at Manchester CAMRA fest in January – from amongst more than 400 UK beers. It was also voted Overall Champion Beer at the Liverpool St George’s Hall Beer Festival a week later. The message is that the beer is still great – it just happens to be gluten-free. We’re in the process of financing a small in-house canning line to give ourselves the flexibility to begin putting more of our beers into cans. Since we want to ensure that all of our canned beers are gluten-free, we’re also looking to enhance our laboratory facilities and bring gluten-testing in house. Partly because brewer Alan thinks he looks sassy in a white lab coat. But mainly becasue we want everyone to be able to enjoy our beers.
30 Jan 2018 / Phil Saltonstall
SOME BREWPLAN TEASERS…
Here we go! We wanted to give you a forward view of our planned beers for the year. There are some returning favourites, alongside a host of newbies. In addition, we have a programme of upcoming collaborations and we reserve the right to brew anything that really grabs our attention and enthusiasm as we go through 2018! So alongside our always-available core beers (Session, Misfit, Helles Lager, Bad Kitty, Sunshine & Disruptor), here’s the lip-smacking list of monthly specials will be available each month:
|JANUARY||Quench / Blonde||Black Russian|
|FEBRUARY||Little Imp||Ready, Grisette, Go|
|APRIL||Death by Toffee||RhüBerlin / Mango Pils|
|MAY||Rhubarb & Custard / Blonde||Hazelnut Mild X|
|JUNE||Mob Rule (Rasp/Ginger Farmhouse)||Life’s a Beach|
|OCTOBER||Blueberry, Almond & Fig Porter||Heretic|
|NOVEMBER||Snow Eater||Black Forest|
|DECEMBER||Starlight / Bourbon Bad Kitty||Strudelweiss|
The list may change – but this is our current working draft…
February’s particularly fun, as both beers are new brews. Little Imp is a hugely drinkable 2.8% NOT stout. It’s a fulsome dark beer with all the other stout-y characteristics, but you certainly wouldn’t call it ‘strong’. By contrast, Ready Grisette Go is our first stab at the grisette style. Grisette is essentially a low ABV hop-forward saison style, named after French working class women – referring to the cheap grey fabric of the dresses that these women originally and predominantly wore. Our version made its debut at Manchester CAMRA and has a lovely combination of saison yeast notes alongside Azacca hop aroma.
A couple of other beers leap out of the list. We’re really looking forward to participating in the International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day on March 8th, when we’re hoping to create a Mango Pilsner. And you may have noticed that June provides a moment for us to ask our Crowler Club members to decide what type of beer they would like to see brewed. Let’s see what the Club folks come up with!
5 Jan 2018 / Phil Saltonstall
What’s coming-up in 2018…
We had a blast in 2017 and we’re settling-in to 2018 with some new projects underway. The biggest thrills last year came from brewing a truly monstrous variety of beer styles, while continuing to do so in the best way that we can manage: recycling our spent products, growing the workforce, supporting apprenticeships, raising money for charity, having some fun. Although our beers continued to garner awards around the UK, one of the nicest gongs to win was the York Press Awards ‘Socially Responsible Business of the Year’ – because it’s good when folks notice that you’re doing it right behind the scenes too; as well as in the glass, can, bottle, horn etc. So here’s what’s happening next…
If you’ve enjoyed any of our beers in the last three months, then A. Great! and B. Just so you know… that beer also happened to be gluten-free. Did you notice? We’ve been brewing all our beers to a gluten-free recipe in recent months, largely because we have found that the recipe adjustment required is very minor. But also because those GF beers have continued to taste great and scoop regional and national awards. The beers are fantastic – they just happen to be vegan/vegetarian-friendly and gluten-free too. We hope that this will allow more people to enjoy Brass Castle beers. We certify all our cans as GF by laboratory testing. It’s an expensive process and we’re exploring a number of methods to reduce that cost, possibly by enhancing our own laboratory facilities. That way, we will be able to certify everything we make as gluten-free.
We’ve only canned our beers on a limited scale to date and use an excellent mobile canner to do it. A success of our Crowler Club crowdfunding experience has been to demonstrate how well many of our beers present in a can. We’ve been cautioned against over-concentrating on canning by the experience of watching other breweries struggle with poorly seamed cans, inconsistent fill-levels or high quantities of dissolved oxygen pick-up. If we’re going to make more cans, then we’re going to do it right. Although we’re bursting at the seams in our current Malton brewhouse, we think we can squeeze enough extra space to accommodate a small canning line that will allow us to expand the range of can beers and fully control the process We’re extremely excited about the possibility of canning beers like Disruptor, Brewtalism, Life’s a Beach or Burnout later this year.
Meanwhile, the latest chapter in our ongoing barrel-aging project is a coffee and cardamom gose, which we look forward to unveiling in autumn this year. When we have made sour beers, we’ve always done it the long traditional way by aging in inoculated wooden barrels – but that doesn’t mean we might not take a run at a kettle sour in 2018…
If we have time of course, because the 2018 calendar is filling-up quickly. Our Taphouse will be staging many more events this year, on the back of a vibrant open-mic night series and the start of some seriously competitive quizzing. At the end of this month we’ll proudly host a brewery bar at the CAMRA Manchester Beer and Cider Festival – after Bad Kitty won the public vote for Beer of the Festival there last year. Days later, we’ll be in the shadow of Ibrox on February 2nd & 3rd for ‘A Glasgow Beer Event’. On March 8th, we’re joining the International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day and will be inviting women brewers and home brewers to get involved. March 31st is this year’s Crowler Club party; an all-day event at Brass Castle with free beer for Club members, exclusive tastings, music and food. Malton becomes BEERTOWN on May 17th, with the best beer selection in the area and great live music. After all of that – there’s the little matter of the Maine Beer Box project that we’ve been working on for over 9 months, bringing Maine beers from the US to the Leeds International Beer Festival and taking Yorkshire beers back to Maine!
It’s going to be a full-throttle year! Thank you to everyone who cheered us on our way and helped to make it a fabby 2017.
In the next update – we’ll share our brew plan for the coming year.