A COTTAGE industry is going from strength to strength and helping to put the town on the tourism map.
Visitors are travelling to Huddersfield from far and wide to sample the dozens of unique ales produced by the town’s growing number of micro breweries.
Our town is developing an increasing reputation for a wide variety of distinctive fine ales, many of which are sold in free houses.
Real ale fans are being drawn in from as far afield as Brighton and Edinburgh to sample the delights of the local brews.
For some time now, Huddersfield and its surrounding villages have been popular stop-offs on the Real Ale Rail Trail, where ale lovers use the Trans-Pennine Leeds to Manchester rail link to travel to free houses and sample individually-styled beers.
Sheffield has long been considered the number one place in the UK for micro brewing.
But Huddersfield now has 11 micro breweries and has overtaken its Yorkshire rival in terms of the number of micro breweries per head of population.
It is a thriving scene which attracts both traditional real ale devotees and a growing number of younger followers lured by the style and individuality of the new craft beers that are springing up.
English hops are giving way to their full-flavoured American, Australian, New Zealand and European counterparts.
In unglamorous outhouses and large purpose-built sheds dotted around Huddersfield’s villages and districts, vats of beer are bubbling away, each brew with its own distinct aroma and taste.
This delicate process is overseen by a dedicated band of brewers fuelled by a passion for beer. In their free time, the brewers can be found pursuing their hobby of ... real ale!
Most of them regularly tour around various pubs sampling their own and other beers from local micro breweries.
The ale scene is vibrant. Ale Talk, the magazine of Huddersfield CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), lists a total of 11 local beer festivals to be held between now and June.
And more than 2,000 people are expected to attend CAMRA’s annual Oktoberfest, which this year will be held from October 4 to 6 at the Sikh Leisure Centre, Springwood.
CAMRA’s Bob Tomlinson, who became a real ale fan as a student in the late 1970s, has watched the renaissance of Huddersfield’s micro brewing industry with interest.
He believes that some of the success is due to the high proportion of free houses in the area, which has provided many of the micro breweries with an outlet for their products.
Bob, of Birkdale Avenue, Lindley, said: “Huddersfield has always had a really good reputation throughout the country for brewing beer. Our annual beer festival attracts a lot of people from down south.
“We are known for our variety of beers and free houses and the fact that the beer is relatively inexpensive, compared with the big cities.
“Generally the local beers are sold without too much distribution and so are relatively cheaper.
“People like to have a local connection with their beers and some of the micro breweries have a cult following. There are some very experimental beers being produced, as well as traditional ones.
“The micro breweries are helping some local pubs to buck the trend of decline. Generally the real ale pub selling local beers is much busier and they don’t have to rely on selling food to survive.
“The local beer is very good quality with fewer additives and many ingredients sourced from Yorkshire."
Sair Inn, Lane Top, Linthwaite.
Ron Crabtree (74) of the Sair Inn at Linthwaite is something of a local hero and the grandaddy of micro brewing in Huddersfield. This year he celebrates 30 years in the business and his first-ever beer, Old Eli (5.3%) is still as popular as ever.His brewery, in an old stable attached to the Sair, was severely damaged by fire last June and Ron recently re-opened with a brand new tailor-made brewing plant. He brews six 36-gallon barrels (1,728 pints) a week, all of which he sells at the Sair Inn.
He said “The new machinery is very high tech in comparison with the old machinery. It is all working like clockworkand all the beers are better than ever. We are doing very well at the moment and I’m very pleased.”
Plover Road, Oakes
Run by Tara Mallinson and Elaine Yendall.It was set up three years ago in an old garage workshop.Tara, a former primary school teacher at Mount Pleasant, is a real ale enthusiast and brewed her own beer at home for many years.
Mallinsons is known for both its experimental and locally-named beers, such as Castle Hill Premium (4.6%) and Emley Moor Mild (3.4%). Their reputation is growing through word of mouth and social networking.Tara said: “People think hops are all the same, but they are not. There are many new varieties, especially from the New World. We brew a modern style of beer, which is paler, more flavoursome and aroma-led.
“The micro brewery scene in Huddersfield is amazing. It is not like we are all rivals, we try each others’ beers and give feedback. There is room for us all and we help each other out – there are not many industries where that would happen.”
Quarmby Mills, Tanyard Road
One of the new breed producing craft beers. Three years ago, 8.6m barrels of craft beer were sold in the USA and the UK market is growing.The flavourful beers are supported by slick marketing and trendy labels with a circus theme. Graphic designer/marketer Richard Burhouse set up the company in May 2011 and recruited brewer Stuart Ross, who had developed a following for his Sheffield ales.
Richard was a real ale fan and blogger and, through social media, his company hit the ground running. He and Stuart brew 10,000 pints a week and their order books are full for the next month.
“I enjoy the US hops, they are stronger with more fruity flavours. What is happening in brewing is similar to what happened with wine which used to be all French, but much of it now is from the New World.”
Find out more about Huddersfield’s other micro breweries on the next page
The Old Boiler House, Upper Mills, Slaithwaite
Run by Russ Beverley who has recently produced a number of new beers with a silver and gold theme, including Silver Spirit (4.4%), Sun Gold (3.9%) and Pagan DGold (4.3%). His latest, Dominion (3.9%), featured at the recent Derby festival.
GOLCAR BREWERY Swallow Lane, Golcar,
Run by John Broadbent whose latest beer is Artic (4.2%) brewed with Citra hops and is on sale at the Sportsman, King’s Head and Rose and Crown, Golcar. The brewery will be open for visitors on Golcar Lily Day, Saturday, May 12.
Old Railway Goods Yard, Milnsbridge
Run by Neil Moorhouse who produces several beers. They will be featured at the Rotherham Magna beer festival, including Steel Mill (4.5%). His Platinum Blonde (4.0%) is now on permanent pump at the Barge and Barrel, Elland.
Nook Brewhouse, Victoria Square, Holmfirth
Run by Sheila Sutton and Ian Roberts, who have been brewing to capacity recently. Strawberry Blonde (4.5%) featured at the recent Chesterfield Festival and new ones will be featured at the Nook’s beer festival from March 29 to April 1.
RAT AND RATCHET BREWING
Chapel Hill, Huddersfield
Run by Rob Allen. The pub held a mini beer festival in February showcasing the 15 latest Rat Specials, together with the core range. Beers include extra pale session Love Rat (3.8%), Rat Pack (4.0%) and White Rat (4.0%)
Peel St, Marsden Run by Lisa Handford.
Recent beers produced by Lisa, who took over from head brewer Joe Kenyon when he retired, include Clough Lea (3.6%) and White Cloud (4.5%)
St John’s Road, Huddersfield
Run by Sam Smith. Beers include Deco (5%), Town Mild (3.5%) and Pigeon Bridge Porter (4.7%). New beer Rhubarb was produced for the Wakefield festival. The CAMRA pub of the year 2011 now has a fuller range of beers available from the Sportsman Brewery.
The Old Furnace, Crossley Mills, New Mill Road, Honley
Run by James Farran and Andy Baker.Producing “evolutionary craft beer in Yorkshire with vision and ingenuity in cask.” Now also selling carbonated bottled beer from the brewery or website. Flagship IPA is the Diablo (6.0%) made with US Citra hops, described as having tropical flavours with notes of pine.Other beers include Zenith pale ale (4.0%) and Barrista stout (4.8%).