An evening spent in a brewery is never a wasted one.
This small team of passionate brewers have been pumping out some fantastic beers and ales for the past few years – with the brewery only 30 miles or so away – it was prime time we made a visit.
Lymestone Brewery stands on the hallowed grounds of, what used to be, Brent’s Brewery back in 2008. The site had been famous for pumping out ale at the very start of the 20th Century, however, after changing hands several times – the site eventually ended up in the ownership of Ian Bradford. Ian, known as ‘Brad’ by his colleagues and visitors on the tour, is a burly Northern man who has a clear enthusiasm and passion for brewing.
Brad had been working at the successful Titanic Brewery in Burslem for 10 years, before making the brave step into the world of independent business and setting up Lymestone Brewery with Ron Makin (who has since left the company). Relying heavily on his decade long experience in the industry, despite the £250,000 investment that the pair had accrued leading up to their first year in business – it was still essential that he perfectly formulate the first batch of ale (what would become their most popular dark-beer, “Stone the Crows”).
The first brew was a success – the beer successfully sold and Lymestone Breweries were able to continue to expand into their new premises.
Lymestone continually produce their two flagship beers, the chocolatey and robust ‘Stone the Crows’ as well as the complex Germanic ‘Ein Stein’. On top of this, they rotate production of three guest ales which are shipped out to pubs and a limited amount of retailers.
The small team of brewers and sellers have done very well over the past few years. So well, in fact, that they’ve decided to open up the doors of the factory and let interested visitors in, to see what hides behind the curtain.
I was accompanied on the two hour tour round the brewery by 5 of my fellow Society members, as well as an excitable group of American tourists.
They were marketers for a College based promotions company (http://campussolutionsinc.com/), on a UK business trip and taking time out of their schedules to enjoy an evening learning about beer. They’d heard about English Ale, but never tried it before. Although us experienced Ale-drinkers could tell that the initial taste was a bit of a shock to the palate, the yanks were soon happily guzzling it down – a testament to the accessibility of Lymestone’s ales.
The tour began with a short introductory tour, accompanied with a couple of pints of Lymestone’s delicious beer. The Director himself took us through a short history of the company, recounting to us the highs and the lows of starting up a Brewery.
Brad made for a great host. He was clearly at ease talking to a large group of people and his passion for his job, as well as the people that he worked for, shone through with abundance. Excitably passing around pints of ‘Stone the Crows’, he talked us through how he brainstorms a concept for a beer and then slowly takes it from half-formed idea through to fully fledged beer.
I won’t go into full detail as to the nuts and bolts of the tour itself, as you’d be much better served by visiting the brewery yourself – something I wholeheartedly recommend.