Earlier this month, we published the third in a series of travel pieces by young brewer Nic Sandery, who set off around the globe seeking inspiration from beer, brewing and the cultures surrounding it that he could pour into forthcoming operation Molly Rose Brewing.
That third article found him in Bamberg – following past articles from Japan and North Carolina. Today, we run the fourth of them from the home of some classic English breweries, pubs steeped in history, some highly rated newcomers and epic late night curries: Yorkshire.
Why did you decide to spend time in Yorkshire?
Yorkshire is home to a few classic English breweries like Timothy Taylor's and Samuel Smith's, which drove my interest in the area and, after only a splash of investigation, I found a rich history of beer and brewing as well as a thriving craft brewing culture combining both old and new techniques.
Also, they drink their beer with a bit of fizz and foam on the top unlike the lunatics in the south of England with their flat beer. [I rather enjoyed pints of flat Bass straight from the cask via a jug at my old local in the Midlands, thank you very much, Nic! – Editor]
Where have you been?
I was staying between Bradford and Leeds so was able to spend a fair bit of time in both of these towns. Both have a growing craft beer culture as well as some great old timey pubs pouring pints of cask ale and pickled eggs.
I took a couple of day trips out into the countryside, one to Masham and also to Huddersfield, to visit some breweries and also get out into the lovely Yorkshire countryside.
What were the highlights?
I loved the Wensleydale cheese sandwich I got at a corner store in Masham around the corner from the Black Sheep brewery. I loved it because it was delicious and quick and local and got me filled up before my tour started at the brewery, which was also incredible.
The tour was run by a lady named Bronwyn, who seemed as if she could tell you of the date that any nail had been hammered into place or the exact number of casks of ale that were brewed on the hundred plus-year old copper brewhouse, and was a fantastic way to spend an afternoon.
Pub hopping around Leeds was a definite highlight. The broad difference of crowds and venues who shared a common link of fantastic beer was more amazing than anywhere else I have been in the world: a tiny tucked away laneway pub that dates back to 1715, a trendy cafe serving craft and cask beer and Indian street food snacks, a local pub that is devoted to serving a single brewery's offering to its locals the same way that they have been for 50 years, and handfuls of craft beer bars that would be comfortable in Australia or the US.
What I loved was that after a few pints at a few different places you dropped into one of the many late night curry restaurant for a naan the size of the table and a plate of curry that was as tasty as you will get anywhere. It was so good that I just had to have a few nights out on the town.
How do you think this part of your trip will influence Molly Rose?
I love how old beer traditions are maintained and enjoyed in Yorkshire. They brew and drink beers that are not flashy or forward, they are balanced and delicious and are differentiated by small flourishes of a certain kind of terroir: perhaps of the individual brewer, their brewhouse, the type of fermentation tank they use, their historic yeast strain or even their well water. The publican also plays a role in making sure cask ale is served to consumers at its absolute peak and this can make the difference between a cracking pint and a mediocre one.
However, I also love the way that the old traditions are being mixed with new craft beer techniques and ideas. Like dry hopping casks with big, fruity US hops or open fermenting.
Did the beer and culture surrounding it meet expectations?
It did, yes. I loved it. The beer was fantastic and the long steeped traditions were so much fun to explore. The pubs were awesome and the people friendly and happy to share their beer and venues with a travelling guest. The pub food was delicious and the late night curries were magnificent.
Any tips for people travelling to Yorkshire?
Magic Rock in Huddersfield and Northern Monk are awesome to drop in to. Both are embracing the current trends of hoppy and sour beers and are really nailing it, with awesome taprooms to boot.
Go bar hopping in Leeds but also just go and explore the countryside, go to some old breweries or old pubs in some small Yorkshire towns. Talk to a local and ask them what they drink and why and after a long days exploring the Yorkshire beer culture you have to finish up with a midnight curry and naan bread.
Thanks, Nic. Now salivating for a curry... Nic will be back with a couple of articles inspired by his time working a vintage in a winery ahead of Molly Rose launching its first beers later in the year.