In Yorkshire, there are dozens of breweries producing hundreds of beers for our drinking pleasure. From traditional staples such as Timothy Taylor’s and their mellow ales, to progressive smashers like Northern Monk and their powerful brews, there are beers to suit every person’s every mood. York alone has plenty in and around the city to keep us supping all kinds of flavours for a good long time, with a couple of big successes in the centre and many marvellous micros surrounding.
The obvious place to begin an article about York breweries is, of course, York Brewery. Since 1996 they have been brewing their Guzzlers and Ghost ales within the city walls, and bring them direct to our mouths at their centre pubs The Three Legged Mare and Last Drop Inn, as well as a tap room on site. The brewery itself has become a top tourist attraction in York, offering tours to gain an interesting insight into the making of magnificent beer.
Now York not only has that one brewer representing the city, but another newer comer who have made quite the impact since arriving on Walmgate in 2016. Brew York is an epic visit, whether touring the impressive brewery or drinking from the 40 beer hall taps. Their core ranges from Jarsa pales to Tonkoko imperial stouts, and there are fun and adventurous one-offs and seasonal beers, such as Rhubarbra Streisand milkshake ale and Hoptimistic Ali IPA, that differ wildly in flavour but remain consistent in quality.
Around the outskirts of the city, more micros are brewing up a storm in York postcodes, at Elvington, Shipton by Beningbrough, Acaster Malbis, Cattal, Bilbrough, Tockwith, and Nun Monkton. One of the largest and longest running is Rudgate, established in 1992 at Marston Moor, and now in spacious modern premises where it magics up more than pleasant bitters, milds and more, with a nod to its home town in names like Jorvik and Viking.
It wasn’t until the start of this decade that newer kids on the block began to join in en masse, but when they did, boy was it worth waiting for. In just a few short years we are now surrounded by half a dozen in a few mile radius around York city centre, and the brews they are knocking out are, indeed, knock out.
On the east side, The Hop Studio are a modern original British craft beer maker, brewing things in their own artisanal way, with all kinds of great colours and flavours going on, ranging from a refreshing Yorkshire pilsner to a mighty white chocolate stout. Their eclectic ales have won plenty of awards already in their young life and continue to think forward.
Go west and you can discover the interesting story of Isaac Poad & Sons, an independent grain and seeds merchant for 150 years, who much more recently turned their expertise in supplying barley to brewers into brewing the stuff themselves. Their numbered beers – notably the 1863 best bitter – are aptly traditional, sticking to relatively low ABVs and subtle flavours that only the most skilful seasoned hand can pull off.
Down south of the centre, Ainsty Ales have a lovely little set up at Manor Farm Buildings, and a tasty selection of sensibly percentaged, well balanced brews made from fine ingredients and authentic methods. And Bilbrough Top Brewery are a small batch operation, whose drinkably more-ish blond can be found in local The Three Hares plus as a guest in selected York pubs such as The Swan and The Slip Inn.
Up north, Treboom are a husband and wife team that combine his science background with her artistic experience. The resulting craft beers are first class, respecting traditional techniques and innovating too, with their Yorkshire Sparkle really pale ale a crowd favourite around these parts. Also sporting its locality proudly, Yorkshire Heart not only create casks and bottles, but wine from its very own vineyard too. Of the ales, most are marvellously mellow IPAs, wheats and darks, plus specials that pack more of a punch.
Moving only slightly further out and the brew goes on, to Pickering, Selby, Malton and more, to Half Moon, Brass Castle, Turning Point and all the rest. Right back in York itself, the whole lot can be sampled on keg or cask, in bottle or can, at bars and shops such as House of the Trembling Madness. Whether you’re preference is for pale or porter, golden or stout, the makers and servers of York and its surroundings can keep you supping all day and night – responsibly of course!