GAVIN AITCHISON welcomes the newest brewery in York

ONE of the best Christmas presents I ever received was a drum kit. I was about four years old, so it was only a small Disney one, but I loved it to bits. Literally so, in fact. I stamped too hard on the pedal one day and the beater punctured poor Mickey’s face.

My musical aspirations pretty much ended right there and then, but things seem to have come full circle. Now, 25 Christmases later, a whole new set of drums has got me animated and excited once again.

You see, while we’ve all been dashing around getting ready for Christmas Day, York has quietly taken delivery of a present we can all enjoy – a new brewery with a distinctive drum theme.

The Treboom microbrewery, the third brewery in York and the 106th in Yorkshire, is part of a larger business development diagonally opposite the Dawnay Arms in Shipton-by-Beningbrough.

Production began a few days ago – and the owners have certainly been banging the drum. Their first offering is a copper-coloured session bitter called Drum Beat, the second is a fruity best bitter called Kettle Drum, and the brewery’s own name is based on the rhythmic sound of a drum-roll: Trrrrrrrrr-boom.

If the Treboom name seems somewhat off-beat, it does reflect the sense of anticipation and drama felt by the owners. John Lewis (not that one) and his wife, ceramic artist Jane Blackman, are new to the profession, but John has been a keen home-brewer since he was a teenager, 30-odd years ago, and he is full of enthusiasm.

“I really want to get going,” he says. “We were thinking about it for more than two years, but since we found the premises I have been really keen to get going.”

John, who lives in Acaster Malbis, says he wants to walk before he runs, so will begin with relatively mainstream beers, but he has tentative plans for more experimental ones down the line, including a few recipes based on the American craft beer movement and popular Belgian styles.

The ten-barrel brewery plant has the capacity to brew 40 nine-gallon casks a day (more than 20,000 pints a week) so he has plenty of scope to try different ideas while still meeting demand as it grows, as it hopefully will. Yorkshire’s beer scene is booming right now, having recently passed the 100-brewery mark, so there are plenty of good examples to follow.

It’s all new territory for John, whose working life until now has been in science – principally in leukaemia and prostate cancer research. He had long planned to open a brewery one day, but he fast-tracked things considerably in the summer when he was made redundant, and he admits the past few weeks have been daunting as well as exciting.

“I have always wanted to do something in the food or drink line, and Jane and I had always thought about it,” he says. “We thought about a tea-room and I tried a cheese-making course. But I love beer, so this is right for me.”

Having made that decision, he undertook a course at Brewlab in Sunderland, teamed up with brewery consultant David Smith of Copmanthorpe, secured a Rural Development grant with help from the EU, and then promptly got to work.

Now, with the finished product in sight, he’s counting the days until D-Day. “I want to get the beer out to the pubs,” he says. “And I cannot wait to be able to go up to a bar and order a pint of my own beer.”

All being well, he (and we) won’t have to wait long. The beer should be available in early January – with a bit of luck, just in time for the 12th day of Christmas and all those drumming drummers.

• To everyone who reads this column, however sporadically: A very Merry Christmas. And goodwill to ale men.

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