A brewery has raised a glass to its 1,000th brew.
And it will soon be “Bottoms up” for fans of Slaithwaite’s Empire Brewing, whose landmark brew has just been made.
The family-run firm have gone back to their first-ever beer, Strikes Back, as the one for the special occasion, as it was the first to be brewed when the brewery opened in Upper Mills 11 years ago.
It coincides with their decision to open up a bottle shop, to allow beer lovers to buy direct from them.
“We’ve actually not had enough time to organise a party– it took us by surprise”, said Craig Beverley, son of Empire Brewing founders Russ and Lorraine, of Golcar.
“We’ve gone from strength to strength since we began and now at times it can be a bit of a struggle to keep up with the demand– there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
“The craft beer industry is one of the biggest growing in the country at the moment.
“Our shop’s just opened up and people can pop in between 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.”
But their beers’ popularity has outgrown the borders.
“We sell as far afield as Liverpool, Chesterfield and York”, said Craig.
“We’ve gone from the initial five-brewing barrel set up to 12 so we can supply more places.
“We use firkin barrels which each hold nine gallons, which means you can get 72 pints out of each. For each brew we get 3,160 pints and can brew 10,000 pints a week.”
Empire is not afraid to try out different brewing techniques.
“Our Golden Warrior sells well every week but we are quite happy to experiment with our other beers” said Craig. “We’ve started to dry hop some of them, which is when you put hops into the primary fermentation tank. It gives the beers a different flavour and a stronger smell.
“One is our Beard Singer, to which we added New Zealand hops to give it a lemon-lime smell. Our Twisted Melon uses Sorachi Ace, which gives it a surprising coconut flavour.
“Some people ask us if we’ve put the flavours in but it’s just all in the hops.
“You wouldn’t believe it but it’s hard coming into work sometimes knowing that you’ve got to have a brew for breakfast.”
Empire may also start kegging their beer.
“We are toying with the idea”, said Craig. “We’ve been selling bottles infrequently for a while so want some because kegged beer lasts longer and some places only want that type.
“And the kegged beers will also be suitable for vegans and vegetarians because the kegging process doesn’t involve fining, which uses isinglass, or dried fish bladder.”