Last weekend, I made one of my regular visits to York, and by chance, arrived there at exactly the right time to sign up for a tour of the York Brewery.
First impressions are not great, to be honest. On arrival outside the brewery, I followed the signs down a short alley, through a tiny courtyard into the rear of the building, up a staircase and through a door into what looks like a clubhouse with its own bar (which it turns out, is exactly what it is, but this one has its own brewery too!).
Tickets for the tour cost just £6, and this includes two halves of any of the beers available. So my first half pint was of Centurion’s Ghost, which is a rich dark red ale, and just right for the cold and miserable March weather, and I enjoyed this relaxing in one of the shabby but comfortable sofas while I waited for the tour to start.
The tour includes just two or three areas within this small brewery, but we were shown around by a very knowledgeable and patient guide! He answered all questions from the more and less experienced visitors in our group of five with the same attention to detail and enthusiasm. I genuinely found the explanation and sight of the processes used, and the ability to smell, taste and touch the ingredients, fascinating, informative and memorable.
At the end of the tour, we returned to the bar for our second taste of a York ale, and this time I went for ‘Decade’, one of the seasonal ales produced each month. This was a much lighter, more citrus, flavoured ale and unfortunately did not appear to be available in bottles, otherwise I might have left with several!
One of the really great things about York Brewery is that it seems to have retained all of the ethos and ambition of a small independent craft brewery despite having been acquired by Lancashire pub operator Mitchell’s of Lancaster. And, so far, there seems to be no expectation that York’s independence will be compromised by its Lancaster-based owner.
So to conclude, York Brewery is well worth a visit (allow at least an hour, or as long as you like if you want to sample all of the beers available)