Paul Holden-Ridgeway is in his element. As he checks the progress of his latest brew here is a man who loves his work.
Based on an airfield in North Yorkshire BAD Co brewing combines the latest innovations with tradition.
The former marine with a passion for extreme foraging is also the owner of Blind Jacks ale house in Knaresborough where for the last 14 years he has indulging his love of brewing.
It was while talking to regular David Brown that the idea for expanding the work Paul was doing at Blind Jacks that the idea for BAD was mooted.
“I went to have a few pints at Paul’s pub,” explains Harrogate businessman David. “Over many pints we started discussing the possibility of expanding Paul’s brewing and making it commercial rather than just a fun thing.”
A chat over a few pints turned into a business plan and two years ago BAD Co was founded near the RAF airfield in Dishforth.
There are no shortage of microbreweries in the UK these days, especially in Yorkshire, but David and Paul have big ideas.
“There are hundreds of micro brewery but 95 per cent of them are content with being small and don’t have the aspiration to grow, We have big plans not only to expand distribution across the UK, but into foreign market territories,” says David, who says the company is cheeky rather than BAD- which stands for brewing and distilling.
While the brewery is serious business the pair want to ensure that their product doesn’t take itself too seriously.
“We want to have fun and we want a company that’s international. It’s not about being small.”
All the beer are names after song titles with the current range, comprising of Comfortably Numb (Pale Ale), Wild Gravity (IPA), Love Over Gold (Blonde Ale) and Dazed and Confused (Milk Stout) and will be joined by Whiter Shade of Pale (Oatmeal Pale Ale), Slow Rider (Grapefruit Easy Ale), Summer Breeze (Fruit Beer) and Satisfaction (Brown Ale) in the near future.”
BAD Co prides itself on scouring the globe, sometimes securing hops years in advance, to find rare flavours that boast unique tasting variations and come from a range of countries and exotic climes, such as Yakina valley in Oregon, USA.
Coupling these premium core ingredients with new technology, advanced equipment, innovative brewing techniques and premium branding and packaging, means BAD Co brew a diverse selection of progressive beers like nothing else in the market.
As one of the only breweries in the UK to house state-of-the-art equipment such as its isobaric hopping chamber, which speeds up the fermentation process BAD Co’s brewers can squeeze every fibre of flavour out of the hops as they are forced into the brew under high pressure, ensuring it is ‘locked into’ the liquid. The use of a whirlpool system when brewing, which is not commonly used in the UK, also means the hops have increased contact time with the wort, improving and enhances the flavours. The result is a distinctive and varied range of beers that stand out because of the outstanding flavour these unique processes produce. They even have their own bottling plant which fills 2,800 bottles and hour.
There may be lots of innovations at BAD Co but talking to Paul it is clear it is the alchemy of the brewing process that is his passion. He shows me some old oak whisky and sherry barrels where premium ales are getting extra flavour.
“People can over-complicate it, it’s just a form of simple cooking,” says Paul, who admits that he doesn’t actually drink much beer. “For me it is about the process and the taste, than the drinking of it.”
While the beer is everything to Paul, businessman David says the branding also has to be right, and it is clear from the impressive packaging and gift boxes that a lot of time and effort has gone into this side of the business.
David is very excited about the latest BAD Co innovation which is introducing special cans which will make the beer lighter to transport. David explain that the entire top comes off the can, turning it into a drinking vessel.
“It is about having a great product and the right branding,” says David.
David and Paul also want to change the way we think about beer. They recently joined forces with the Star in the City in York to hold a beer and food pairing event and they are creating a lower alcohol beer to appeal to the changing market.
“It has taken along time to reduce the sugar and alcohol content but maintain the flavour,” says Paul. “But we’ve achieved it.”
The pair also hope their product will appeal to women as well.
And they must be doing something right.
They are even looking to expand the brewery to cope with the growing demand for their beer. And if its popularity continues to grow at the speed it has over the last two years, they are going to need it.
BAD Co was formed in 2014 by David Brown and head brewer Paul Holden-Ridgeway.
The brewery, which bases itself on the American model of ale production, is based close to RAF DIshforth in North Yorkshire.
It has state of the art brewing equipment such as an isobaric hopping chamber, a whirlpool system and also a 2,800 bottle per hour bottling plant.
The number of staff has grown from two to 16 and further expansion is planned.
David Brown is a Harrogate eingineer and businesman who is also the man behind the eponymous David Brown Speedback GT which costs £594,000 to buy and luxury stone importers Lapicida.
Paul is a former marine and owner of Blind Jacks ale house in Knaresborough.
BAD Co has won numerous awards for its beer.
Comfortably Numb won awards at the 2014 York Beer Festival for ‘Overall Winner of the Show’ and ‘Best Low Gravity Beer under 4%’.