Yorkshire is opening more breweries than anywhere else in the UK as the region’s beer scene continues to thrive.
A total of 24 new breweries opened in Yorkshire last year, more than any other region including London, according to the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA)’s Good Beer Guide 2020.
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Yorkshire now has 194 breweries, from tiny one-man-band operations to large international companies.
Martha Holley and her American husband Dann Paquette ran a large brewery in the US before moving to Sheffield and starting the Brewery of Saint Mars of the Desert, a smaller more experimental brewery, in January.
Ms Holley said the couple chose Sheffield because of its interesting brewing scene.
“Yorkshire has a really fun combination of old and new. You get the old breweries, which are really precious and should be preserved, and some exciting, innovative new breweries.”
She added that Yorkshire brewers were keen to collaborate and help each other.
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Kevin Keaveney, CAMRA regional director said Yorkshire beers had more variation than in other regions because of the sheer physical size and different types of water, beer’s main ingredient.
He said: “There has always been a very active home brewing scene around Sheffield, Rotherham and Barnsley and there is a large cluster of breweries in that area the original pioneers were steel, coal, rail or engineers who decided to move from been home brewers to making a living from beer due to redundancy or early retirement.”
However, a lot of the growth was coming from young people considering brewing as a career option. In addition, the number of women becoming brewers also risen too.
He added: “Yorkshire folk being Yorkshire folk, they see opportunities, so most of new entrants ‘hire’ the brew kit and vessels, which gives them a chance to see how they actually like the business and many are quite happy to build their sales up doing this ‘cuckoo’ brewing.”
Marcus Gartia, who owns The Curious Hop beer shop in Otley, said Yorkshire people like to drink Yorkshire beers, which could be one of the reasons the region’s brewing industry is still booming.
“We’re very patriotic. The majority of the beer we sell is Yorkshire beer, then the rest of the UK, then European and American beers. Most people in our shop gravitate to the Yorkshire shelf.”
In the six years Mr Gartia has run the shop, he said the industry has grown enormously. He said: “It’s blown up. The interest in beer has increased massively and it’s hard to keep up sometimes.”
Though some breweries did not last very long, it was still possible to make a success of launching a brewery and the industry was not yet at critical mass, he added.
Ian Shutt, who lives in Otley and set up Shadow Brewing earlier this year, started as a hobbyist and found people wanted to buy his beer.
“Technically, you're not allowed to even give it out to people without various licences so I thought it was worth getting the licences so I could sell it,” he said.
Mr Shutt added that it was hard to make much money out of being a small brewer though and he was happy to run the brewery alongside his full-time job in finance.
In addition, the George & Dragon in Hudswell has once again been named one of the best pubs in the UK, making its way to the next stage of the competition in the nationwide search for CAMRA’s Pub of the Year.
Rescued by the community in 2010 and refurbished, it has its own library, shop, allotments and other community facilities as well as food and drink.
It will now compete in the next round of the competition, hoping to be named one of four finalists - and stay in with a chance of becoming the overall winner, to be revealed in February 2020.
The Good Beer Guide reviews more than 4,500 pubs across the UK, and is compiled by thousands of independent volunteers, helping identify significant trends and themes locally and nationally.
Tom Stainer, CAMRA’s chief executive said: “For nearly five decades, the Good Beer Guide has been a comprehensive guide to the UK’s breweries, their ales, and the best outlets to find them in across the country.
“The Good Beer Guide has always had an important role in acting as a barometer of the beer and pub industry. We believe information gleaned from the Guide is absolutely vital in the drive to save our pubs from closure and campaign for policies that better support pubs, local brewers and their customers.”