Yorkshire best for beer as more brewers tap into real ale trade

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YORKSHIRE has more real ales and more new breweries being launched than anywhere else in the country, it was revealed today.

There have been 16 independent breweries started in the region in the past 12 months according the Campaign for Real Ale’s (Camra) Good Beer Guide for 2012.

Nationally almost 100 new breweries have been established with 5,500 beers now in regular production.

West Yorkshire is the most prolific brewing centre in the region with 43 established breweries and 276 beers in regular production. North Yorkshire has 216 beers in production and 33 breweries.

There are now six times as many brewers across Yorkshire as when the first Good Beer Guide was compiled in the 1970s.

The guide’s editor Roger Protz said: “At a time when Tetley has closed in Yorkshire it is great to see small breweries meeting the demand. Big breweries do not seem to understand what is happening in the beer market.

“I think it is part of the green revolution. Just as people want to know more about where there food is coming from there is a demand for locally produced beers that are rooted in their community with local water and where possible local ingredients. More than half of the pubs in this country are owned by three large pub companies but through the umbrella organisation of independent brewers small producers are able to find pubs which want to want to sell their beers.

“These breweries are often run by people who lost their jobs, people who have brewed as a hobby and decided to give it a go. They are doing it because they are passionate about beer.”

James Taylor launched the Two Roses Brewery in Darton, near Barnsley, earlier this year, having been made redundant from the Audit Commission in spending cuts. The 55-year-old said: “My background was local authority so I didn’t know what I was going to do instead. I’d always been a beer lover – I met my wife at a beer festival 27 years ago and I’ve been a member of CAMRA since I was 18 – so I decided to start a brewery. I’d brewed before, but only at home as a hobby, so on a very small scale.

“So far the business is going alright – August was our best month. Beer festivals are quite critical for me, because it’s a place where publicans can try the beer and if they like it put an order in. Real ale is a growing market in a diminishing sector – by that I mean that while beer sales as a whole are diminishing, there is an increasing demand for real ale.”

Stuart Ross, the head brewer of Magic Rock brewing company in Huddersfield which also launched this year, said: “The business has been well received – our ales are in pubs in places such as York, Cambridge and the Sheffield Tap, and we have a permanent pump at the Grove Inn in Huddersfield. Generally nationwide there is a pretty big demand for cask beer.

“I think the difference between big companies and smaller independent brewers is that we’re not just in it for the profit. Obviously we do want to make some money but we’re beer lovers and we’re making beer that we would want to drink.”

Andy Gascoigne, 49, has launched the Haworth Steam Brewing Company after more than a decade owning pubs and running small breweries. He said: “The passion for brewing across the region is phenomenal. I think it is because there is a romantic idea attached to the notion of brewing your own ale.”

Camra’s Good Beer Guide names the Jemmy Hirst at the Rose & Crown, in Rawcliffe, East Yorkshire as the regional pub of the year for Yorkshire.

The pub is praised for its warm welcome, book-lined walls and riverside location.