Wednesday 12th August 2016
Slightly difficult to find, this brewery tap room more than repays a little exploration to locate it. Please note that the name is similar to the York Brewery Tap Room. That is the Tap Room for another brewery at a different location. Please see a report on a visit to that brewery on this Beervisits.eu website. This one is located in a former warehouse to be found in a yard just off Walmgate, a historic street within the city walls.
The brewery is the brainchild of Wayne Smith and Lee Grabham who are the joint owners. They were both active home brewers and one day, when out on a stag do for a friend, they first met and discussed their common interest. A few years later, meeting at the same friend’s barbecue, further dialogue occurred. Soon, they were brewing together using an all-grain method favoured by Wayne.
Some success in home-brewing competitions and supplying beer to the reception at another friend’s wedding provided a lot of confidence.
The inevitable movement towards a future business had already started which was consolidated with many pub conversations. It was thereafter that they decided to press ahead into the world of commercial brewing and started looking for a suitable location.
Quite honestly they could not have found a better location. It has so many plus points. It is within the city walls; it is a large former warehouse that has a sufficient area to expand the brewery; it has space for the tap room. There is also a place inside where live bands can perform. In addition, the two partners have created an atmospheric terrace overlooking the River Foss.
Back in July 2015 they began the process of applying for planning permission to convert it to a brewery and tap room.
March 2016 saw them brewing their first beer on the newly-installed equipment. It was Viking DNA, a beer that has subsequently won several awards.
Such was the early popularity of their beer, the fermentation capacity has been increased from an initial 60hl, more than fourfold to 260hl at the time of writing.
After turning off Walmgate I walked up the approach road with what I thought was the brewery in front of me. Not the case, as when I got nearer I could see that there was a large arrow on the sign directing me left. A very short distance away I found the main way in.
Therein I discovered a large industrial space with light flooding in through the glass sections of the high roof.
There are shelves of packaged beer on either side of the entrance; this is where off-sales are made. There’s a lot of space throughout and I could see the shiny stainless steel brewery on the left.
In front of it is a wooden wall with a shelf on top for resting beer glasses on. A row of bar stools completes the picture. High tables with more stools are found to the right.
The walls are exposed brick and the floor covering is shiny vinyl yet it isn’t soulless; probably helped by the colourful bar area on the left with its seven hand pumps. Also on the left of the room, beyond the bar counter, the toilets are to be found. On the right are more high tables with varnished light wood surfaces, along with tall stools.
As it was a nice day I had a look at the terrace at the rear. This is small but perfectly formed with wooden furniture. The seating is made of old pallets and the tables are an old cable drum. It looks out to an industrial landscape with Rowntree Wharf looming down from the opposite side of the river.
This was built in 1860 as a flour mill. It closed in 1930 and in 1935 it was purchased by Rowntree & Co, chocolate makers and used as a warehouse until the 1960s. Since 1989 it has been converted to offices and apartments.
There are always seven cask beers offered along with some in kegs and cans. Six of the hand pumps were dispensing beers from the standard range and these were Jarsa Summer Ale (3.7%); Maris the Otter (3.9%); Little Eagle (4.5%); Viking DNA Porter (5.0%); Brew York, Brew York (5.0%) and Eagle IPA (6.5%). This later now seems to be known as Big Eagle. The seasonal beer was Kiwi Ale (5.0%).
They also have a small range of traditional still ciders. When I visited they had Weston’s (Much Marcle, Herefordshire) Wyld Wood Organic Cider (6.0%). They also had two local offerings: Ampleforth Abbey (Ampleforth, North Yorkshire) Still Cider (6.5%) and Orchards of Husthwaite (Husthwaite, North Yorkshire) Galtres Katy (6.0%). The latter is interesting as it is pressed from just one apple variety, Katy. It is made by a collective and all profits go to projects in the village of Husthwaite.
They offer wines and spirits and other drinks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic. They do not have a kitchen but there are food vendors there on certain evenings. Check with the brewery, contact details below. I quite liked this tap room and found the beers to be really good, I will be back!
Brew York, Walmgate, York, North Yorkshire YO1 9TT. Tel: 01904 848448.
Tap Room: Monday-Tuesday: Closed; Wednesday-Thursday: 18.00-23.00; Friday: 16.00-23.00;
Saturday: 12.00-23.00; Sunday: 12.00-22.00.
The brewery only is open for off-sales Monday-Tuesday: 13.00-18.00.
The Tap Room is within the city walls so is close to the many attractions.
It’s about a ten minute walk from the Minster and about fifteen minutes from the railway station.
Many bus routes pass along Walmgate and connect to and from various parts of the city and beyond.