York Brewery

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York micro.jpg
2022, after closure

The York Brewery Co Ltd, 12 Toft Green, Micklegate, York, North Yorkshire.

Brewing commenced in 1996.

Acquired by Mitchells of Lancaster in 2008 with 4 public houses.

Following the demise of Mitchells in December 2018, York Brewery and its estate of pubs was acquired by Black Sheep Brewery plc. The pubs acquired were: Last Drop Inn, York; Mr Foley’s Tap House, Leeds; The Tap Room, York; and The Three Legged Mare, York.

The lease of the York Brewery terminated in June 2019, from which time York beers were brewed at Black Sheep.

THE YORK BREWERY COMPANY by David A Smith BA (Chem), AIBrew Brewing Services and Consultancy

The York Brewery Company has just started trading, operating from a site at 12 Toft Green, off Micklegate (the first commercial brewery within the City Walls since J. J. Hunt's Ebor Brewery was closed in 1956). The brewery, in a former motor-cycle showroom, has been deliberately designed as a visitor attraction, with hospitality bar, viewing galleries, and display areas. Tours will be available. The brewing plant comes from the former Lion Brewery at Preston, whilst the brewer was formerly with the Lastingham Brewery.

It is over 40 years since there has been a brewery operating within the walls of the City of York. There are a plethora of breweries round and about but since JJ Hunts was bought by Cameron’s brewery, who immediately closed it down, there has not been a brewery which Yorkies' could call their own.

All that changed at the end of May when the first brews from the newly formed York Brewery Co. Ltd. went on sale, and sold they did.

In The Maltings, York, CAMRA pub of the year finalist, where the first casks went on sale, they were back for more within twenty four hours so great was the initial demand.

The brewery has been set up by Tony Thomson, ex-Regional Director of Fortes, and has taken nearly a year to come to fruition.

Tony contacted David Smith, the York based Brewing Consultant, and they decided to go for a site within the City walls, and on the York Tourist Trail. This prospect appealed to Tony Thomson far more than some impersonal industrial unit on the outskirts of the City.

Fortunately just the right building came along in the shape of a former carpet, and lately motorbike, showroom just inside the main entrance to the City at Micklegate Bar.

After obtaining planning consent and following six weeks renovation, the building was ready for the brew-plant to be installed.

The plant came from over the Pennines and was formerly at the Original Lion Brewery in Burnley. However before the plant could be used it need extensive refurbishment which was undertaken by a company in Hull. (A well travelled piece of kit). The refurbishment included fitting steam coils to the Copper and Hot Liquor Tank and replacing the electric elements which had previously been used. The vessels were all re-clad, particularly the Copper which was clad in copper sheet to make a spectacular centrepiece to the brewhouse.

Two new Fermenting Vessels were also built which takes the capacity of the brewery up to 80 barrels per week, a target Tony Thomson intends to reach sooner rather than later.

Two beers are currently being produced. “Stonewall” at 3.7% abv which is a session bitter which has a smooth malty character with a good fruity aroma. This is complimented by the premium ale “Yorkshire Terrier” at 4.2% abv which has a definite hoppy character and lots of bite.

The whole brewery has been set up very much with the visitor in mind. There is an open gallery overlooking the brewhouse and viewing panels looking into the Fermenting Room and cask racking areas. So every operation can be seen by the visitor without needing to set foot into the brewing areas. A smart visitors centre and sampling room ensures the brewery tours are never too long.

Additional reporting by Andrew Davison.