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Hop and glory at the Studio
12:12pm Saturday 19th May 2012 in Pints of View
GAVIN AITCHISON checks out the first beers from Yorkshire’s newest brewery.
I TOLD a friend that York was getting a new brewery, and his reaction amazed me. He wasn’t overjoyed, surprised or even all that intrigued. He simply looked up, raised his eyebrows and asked, with evident disbelief: “What, another one?”
Good grief. Is that what it’s come to? Has the glorious, hoptastic, revolution really become tedious already? Surely not?
I hope those reading this will be more interested than my mate, and will scoff like I did at his apparent boredom. York’s newest brewery, the Hop Studio at Elvington, may lack the razzamatazz and premature hyperbole of some other Yorkshire breweries, but I’ll tell you this – it’s worth looking out for.
Yorkshire, by my rough count, has something like 110 breweries now, but few have been as bold from the off as these guys.
Dave Shaw and co weren’t content with a couple of middle-of-the-road real ales to get started, no sirree. They have launched four beers, to appeal to a broad range of tastes, and they’ve done so with a little bit of chutzpah.
Take their Pilsner for starters. Not many of Yorkshire’s new breweries would have dreamt of brewing such a beer, let alone including it in their debut range. But that’s what the Hop Studio have done, and with good reason.
“We wanted to create a Pilsner that ale drinkers would like,” says Dave. “And at the same time, our Blonde ale is made with the aim of creating an ale that lager drinkers will like.”
That inclusive attitude, that desire to tempt entrenched drinkers on to something new, impressed me – and so did the beers. The Pilsner was delicious, crisp, punchy and refreshing, eminently better than many other English attempts at the style.
The ales too were very, very good – the Blonde (including Chinook, Cascade and Nelson Sauvin hops) had a fruity pizzazz that belied its 3.5 per cent ABV, the Gold at 4.5 per cent had a well-balanced bitterness, and the XS at 5.5 per cent had a potent but enjoyable zing, the boldest and most distinctive of the beers flavour-wise.
Dave seems proud of all four, and rightly so, for these are exciting times for him. He has called time on a career in local government and turned his 30-year home-brewing hobby into a profession, so he is entitled to revel in the success for a while at least.
After handing in his notice to North East Lincolnshire council, he undertook a brewing course in Bury, commissioned a ten-barrel brewing plant at Elvington Industrial Estate, and is now enjoying the first fruits of his labours. The beers were launched at York Tap on Thursday, and drew much praise.
Although he is but the latest in a line of new Yorkshire breweries, he’s confident there is space in the market, and is upbeat about the future.
“There are a lot of breweries in North and West and South Yorkshire, but not many east of York,” he says. “I was in local government and when you are in a profession, you can get trapped on the conveyor belt, going from job to job, place to place.”
The regular salary is comforting, he says – but it doesn’t necessarily give you what you want.
He has called his brewery The Hop Studio because he wanted a non-geographical name, and also because he wants to promote an image of adventure and experimentation.
“We want it to be a place where we can collaborate with other people who want to brew and who have ideas about beers,” he says. “We want it to be a creative environment.”
THE Hop Studio is not the only brewery launch this week. The small plant at Blind Jacks pub in Knaresborough Market Place is also being formally launched with a mini festival, which is running over the weekend and on until Monday.
Let me know your thoughts if you try any.
Elsewhere, North Bar in Leeds played host on Thursday to the UK launch of the Italian beer Tipopils – there should still be some available if anyone is out that way.
Follow Gav on twitter @pintsofview