The story of Huddersfield brewery Magic Rock's success as it prepares to open a second taproom

Magic Rock have taken over a former bank in Holmfirth
Magic Rock have taken over a former bank in Holmfirth
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Popular Huddersfield brewery Magic Rock is opening a second taproom in Holmfirth.

The business, which began producing and selling American-style craft ale in 2011, has taken over the former HSBC bank unit on Victoria Street, which has been vacant since 2017.

The taproom opens this week

The taproom opens this week

The building, which dates back to 1844 and was originally the London, City & Midland Bank branch, will be transformed into a taproom selling beers made at their Willow Park Business Centre site in Huddersfield, where their first taproom opened in 2015.

The Holmfirth sheep farm that became Britain's highest vineyard
Magic Rock hope to establish a firm presence in the village, where several local restaurants and bars already stock their product range.

The 19th-century bank vaults have been converted into a beer cellar as part of the renovation process. There will be eight keg lines, four casks, and a fridge full of canned and bottled beers. There will also be a private events space that can be hired for up to 60 people.

A 'beer food' menu has been designed to complement the drinks selection, with platters, curries and bar snacks all available. Local suppliers include Hinchliffe's Farm Shop, Bolster Moor Pies, The Unusual Chutney Company and Birkby-based Dabbawalla, a vegan Indian curry brand. Coffee will be sourced from Darkwoods.

There will also be a weekly street food rotation with kitchen takeovers offering Japanese, Ethiopian, Moroccan and many other cuisines.

The taproom welcomes children and dogs.

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The brewery was taken over by Australian food and drink giant Lion earlier this year, with founder Richard Burhouse remaining as CEO. The sale has allowed the brand to expand and improve its distribution.

Brand manager Vik Kastenbauer Stronge said:-

"Holmfirth is a little community and we want to be part of it. A lot of bars are opening in cities but in villages it's easier to be part of that community and to give something back.

"The building was very much a bank, with carpet tiles and office ceilings. We have stripped it back but retained some of the period features. It has a really homely feel.

"It's quite unique. We have built up a following in Holmfirth, and there are other places that serve our beer, but it will be good to have somewhere that sells solely our brand. Hopefully it will bring in a bit of tourism and a bit of a buzz, and be part of the pub crawl scene.

"The Australian takeover has enabled us to expand and get our beers out there more. We've taken on extra staff but remain a thoroughly Yorkshire brand."

Magic Rock have established a close relationship with Huddersfield Town, and their main taproom is already a popular pre-match stop for football fans.

"I'm often surprised by how busy the brewery is. It's a real community hub, we get families in there too. It's a meeting place and we hope Holmfirth becomes that too.

"The response has been good so far - people have been really welcoming and friendly. We're excited to show it off.

"Magic Rock has done well because we offer something a little bit different. We've got a broad range of beers and a cracking team of staff who know the beers inside out."

Chief executive Richard Burhouse sees Magic Rock as having ridden the 'second wave' of interest in independent breweries over the past decade. He founded the business after an online beer sales venture failed to prosper.

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Despite criticism from traditionalists who believe he has 'sold out' to the new owners, he maintains that the deal was in the best interests of both Magic Rock and Huddersfield itself.

"I've always been interested in craft ale, and although the online shop didn't take off, it gave me some good contacts in the American beer industry. We began production in some outbuildings at my family's business, which sells rocks and crystals - which is why we decided on the name Magic Rock.

"I felt the opportunity was ripe - the big names like Brewdog and Thornbridge were already out there but there weren't many brewing US-style, heavily-hopped, stronger beers.

"At first it wasn't the easiest of sells locally, and most of our original orders went to Leeds, Manchester and London. It was opening the retail store and taproom at our Birkby site that really gave us that connection with the community."

The acquisition by Lion, who have already invested heavily in craft ale producers in Australia, New Zealand and London, was confirmed in March this year.

"All of the original shareholders are still involved since the sale. It will enable us to expand and we are still committed to production in Huddersfield. The new owners have backed my Holmfirth idea, and we have better support now, more structure and better systems in place. We hope to treble our production capacity by expanding into new units at Birkby.

"The obvious places to open more taprooms would be Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester, but with Holmfirth we wanted to test out the concept and see if we had the ability to run taprooms away from the brewery.

"Our core customers have been incredibly supportive. Some independent bars and bottle shops have stopped stocking us since the takeover, but that will allow other small breweries into that space.

"We needed the help from people who are used to growing breweries, to help us move into mainstream public consciousness. I never set out to be a paradigm of independent principles.

"This was the right decision for us, they were offering investment and it's a good move for the business. I am Huddersfield born and bred, and it's a chance for growth for the town in general."

Magic Rock Holmfirth will open this Friday (December 6). Please note food will not be served until late December.