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Coast pub Riding high
9:10am Saturday 23rd June 2012 in Pints of View
GAVIN AITCHISON enjoys the home brews at a gong-winning pub.
TOM, Dick and Harry are the unsung heroes of the operation. They may be hidden away in the cellar but between them, they work wonders.
It is they who have turned this place around. They and Stuart and Karen Neilson, of course.
A few years ago, this Victorian corner-house pub and hotel in North Marine Road was a bog-standard local, bumbling along unspectacularly. Today, it is something of a mecca for ale lovers and the proud producer of Scarborough’s very own beers.
That’s where Tom, Dick and Harry come in. This hardy trio are the North Riding Brew-Pub’s stalwarts, the ever-reliable fermentation tanks where the magic happens, under whose careful watch the raw wort is turned into delightful ale.
Tom has been here since January 2011 and Dick and Harry were brought in a few months later to triple the capacity. Today, in a typical week, the brewery produces enough beer to sell around 1,000 to 1,500 pints, mostly here at the North Riding but also in selected pubs elsewhere in Yorkshire.
It’s some achievement for Stuart and Karen, who bought the freehold on the building on Yorkshire Day 2005. Stuart knew as soon as he saw the vast cellar that he wanted to brew here, but his first priority was to enhance the pub’s reputation.
He developed the beer range and duly won Scarborough Camra’s town pub of the year award in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
In seven years, he has sold more than 1,920 unique beers, and he hopes to hit 2,000 later this summer.
While impressing with ales from elsewhere, Stuart set about learning the ropes himself, not through any formal course but by regularly visiting some of his favourite brewers.
Dave Sanders at Elland, Sue Simpson at Brown Cow, Kelly Ryan while he was at Thornbridge, and Rob Wiltshire at Yorkshire Dales all lent expertise and advice.
“You can get a textbook telling you how to brew beer, but really it’s all about timings and temperatures and experimenting,” says Stuart. “I went to various breweries and have bounced ideas off people who have been brewing for years.”
He launched in January last year and within a month he was hitting the headlines, his Peasholm Pale winning the top award at the Bradford Beer Festival.
He has mostly stuck to such pale and hoppy beers since and last week reached something of a milestone, when he (and Dick) produced North Riding’s 100th brew: “Ton Up, ’Owzat”.
It should be hitting the bars in around three weeks and is worth looking out for, including at The Maltings in York. It contains seven doses of hops: a bed of Citra on the base of the kettle; additions of US Magnum, Millennium, Simcoe, Calypso and Galaxy during the boil; and then a dry-hopping of Citra inside the fermenter.
“I was always going to do pale, hoppy beers because that’s what sells in here and I would be a fool not to,” says Stuart. “The fact I like them too is great. There are people who go to extremes, but whether I do or not, I don’t know.
Some might find my beers too hoppy – but everyone’s palate is different.”
His own favourite beers, he says, include Summer Wine Diablo, Thornbridge Kipling and Five Towns Peculiar Blue, but he much prefers his own creations – including his Peasholm Red ale, his Neilson’s Sauvin (made using Nelson Sauvin hops), and one particular local favourite called The Sperminator – brewed after a number of regulars’ wives and partners became pregnant in quick succession.
CLIFFORD Village Hall, between Tadcaster and Wetherby, has a Champion Beer Festival from noon to 11pm next Saturday; The Slip Inn in Clementhorpe, York, hosts a Battle of the Breweries between Roosters and Mallinsons from noon today; and the Bootham Crescent Beer Festival, which began on Thursday, continues until tomorrow.
Congratulations to The Waggon and Horses in Lawrence Street, York, which was named York Camra’s pub of the year.
Branch members gathered on Wednesday to present landlord Paul Marshall with his award.