The Malthouse Blog
Staff Profiles in Courage #3: Emma Brown
Friday, 04 September 2015 17:59

This is the third instalment of the ludicrously popular and relatively new Malthouse blog feature called "Staff Profiles in Courage." The format is almost offensively simple – I sit down with a worthy Malty staff member and, over the course of a few beers, [1] ask them a series of searching questions. This time I chatted with Emma Brown, one of the talented Duty Managers at Malthouse. Here is the official record of our conversation once I finally figured out how to get my phone to record things: [2]

I have a dream: Beer out of your comfort zone
Wednesday, 26 August 2015 16:39

Honestly, who has two thumbs and stopped off on the way to a beer and food matching dinner which served eleven different craft beers to have a quick pint in the pub? This guy!

The dust is settling: 51.5 weeks to Beervana 2016
Wednesday, 19 August 2015 16:29

Well, another Beervana is in the history books [1] and it is time to reflect on two spectacular days in the craft beer calendar.

North is the Top of the World: North End Brewing Company
Monday, 17 August 2015 10:13

When Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Scottish Malthouse Proprietor informed me of the topic for this week’s blog, I sprang into action. [1] As commanded by “The Beard That Must Be Obeyed,” 

The long and occasionally wobbly road to Beervana 2015
Friday, 07 August 2015 10:00

Today is truly an auspicious day but that has not always been so. 7 August is in the history books as the day the United States Department of War was created (1789), [1] the birthday of comedian Alexei Sayle (1952) who was easily the sixth funniest actor to appear in The Young Ones, the man who ordered the infamous underarm delivery – Greg Chappell - was born on this date in 1958, and on that very same day a century earlier the first official Australia Rules football match was played [2]

The typical Yorkshireman wears a flat cap and loves nothing better than a pint of good Yorkshire ale with his whippet at his feet
Thursday, 30 July 2015 08:45

As a self-employed writer who does not get paid unless he actually produces something, the “to-do list” is essentially my founding document. Or it would be if I only had one of them. There is currently a small stack of said lists including at least two which include the action item “merge all these damn to-do lists into one master list." [1]

Writing is a deeply unpredictable business. For example, last week I was supremely confident that this column would be all about International Beer Day at Malthouse. When I woke up just after the crack of noon today I was mentally prepared to pimp out Malty IBD festivities to beer drinkers around the world. Then reality called [2] and now I’m writing about Yorkshire.

The title of this week’s blog is from a webpage dedicated to “the very bad Yorkshire joke." While a lot of material on the Internet is nonsensical hyperbole and nonsense on hydraulic stilts, that particular page does indeed deliver a very bad joke about Yorkshire involving a guide dog.

As it turns out, the first of August is Yorkshire Day and this fine event has been celebrated since way back in 1975. It started as a protest against some local government reforms but was then linked to the campaign of Yorkshire MP William Wilberforce to abolish slavery. I’m not usually a fan of strategic communication plans but this is one festive day that definitely could have benefited from a more focused mission statement.

When people think of what Yorkshire has given the world, they may consider the famous green dales, Scarborough Fair, delicious Yorkshire puddings and Guy Fawkes. Other might recall the famous White Rose from the War of the Roses, coal mining, Geoffrey Boycott and the A1 motorway. [3] Younger readers could associate Yorkshire with metrosexual TV chef James Martin, twenty seven series of Downton Abbey in which absolutely nothing happened, and noted daywalker Ed Sheeran.

To me, Yorkshire is coal mining, wool milling and canals to and from the beautiful Humber Estuary. It is the semi-saucy writings of novelist Barbara Taylor-Bradford, the brilliance of the great Gordon Banks, [4] the Blessed Saint Nicholas Postgate of Egton (obviously), and Def Leppard. There is a dark side to Yorkshire though, highlighted by Last of the Summer Wine and dozens of novels by the Bronte sisters which have traumatised school children for decades.

Other famous people from Yorkshire include Captain James T Cook, the freaks from Chumbawamba, Kevin Keegan, Dame Judy Dench, [5], Sean Bean [6] Sir Patrick Stewart, and my personal literary idol (Sir) Jeremy Clarkson. Another famous Yorkshire entertainer, Jimmy Saville, seems to have dropped off the list of late...

Yorkshire is also famous for beer having been brewing there since at least the 12th Century. After all, watching Geoffrey Boycott bat sober must have been an unbearable concept. I feel the same way about any James Martin show where he witters on about cakes for an hour.

The Deliciously Yorkshire website makes the bold claim that “Yorkshire is home to the most breweries in the whole of the UK." I cannot verify that but Yorkshire boasts a number of famous breweries including Timothy Taylor, Black Sheep, John Smith's, Sam Smith's, Copper Dragon, Cropton Brewery, Kelham Island Brewery, Theakstons, Wharfedale Brewery and Leeds Brewery.

No less a media institution than the New York Times has told its readers “Yorkshire is becoming a big destination for beer lovers." The Beer Lover’s Guide to Yorkshire noted:

“Yorkshire does seem to be rather fashionable at the moment. It’s been singled out by the Lonely Planet guides and the New York Times recently as a must-visit destination. So why have seasoned travel experts with the world at their feet suddenly discovered Yorkshire?

Well, putting aside its stunning natural beauty; the rugged coastlines, striking harbour towns and the hauntingly beautiful moorlands. Putting aside even the unrivalled charm of its county capital York, something else is catching attention, something that every Yorkshireman – and many of its women – [7] have been rightly proud of for centuries: the beer.

Brewing in Yorkshire has a long and distinguished heritage and Yorkshire beers have won more than their fair share of awards. Following a craft brewing renaissance over the last decade or so, there are now well over 100 breweries in Yorkshire, busy producing everything from good honest Yorkshire bitter to pale ales, blonde ales, stouts and porters."

So, to celebrate Yorkshire Day, an event I was unaware of until this morning, Malthouse has four special beers in the fridge. Three from the cutting edge Summer Wine Brewery in West Yorkshire, and a classic in the form of Timothy Taylor Landlord, also brewed in West Yorkshire. Landlord is a brew which remains to this day the benchmark for classic English pale ales.

Timothy Taylor Brewery was found in Keighley, Yorkshire in 1858 and is still independently owned. The Oxford Companion to Beer goes so far as to describe Landlord as "legendary" noting it is "a strong (by British standards) and hoppy pale ale [that] has won over 70 prizes at international competitions and British real ale festivals – more than any other beer. It inspires reverence among British beer aficionados, many of whom consider it to be simply the best British cask ale of all time."

I then have to take the rare step of disagreeing with my usually beloved Oxford Companion to Beer because of Madonna. There is a sentence I never expected to write. Pop star Madonna had moved to England and was trying desperately hard to be accepted. She suddenly declared her love for Timothy Taylor Landlord, calling it the "champagne of ales."

As well as displaying her ignorance about ale and breaking at least one protected geographical appellation, I do not buy this for a single minute. However, the Oxford Companion claims her comments pushed Landlord to new heights. I believe it simply proved the beer is so good that it could survive two World Wars, the Great Depression and being used by Madonna in a naked publicity stunt. That is a resilient beer. Also, it tastes quite lovely.

Summer Wine Brewery is a very different beast. Apart from having "Wine" in its name and making reference to one of the few shows that is less funny than a Colin Craig press conference, this is a brewery which flaunts its lack of history and flagrant disdain for tradition. Yorkshire is a pretty traditional place – several writers have made fun of Yorkshire’s "cloth cap, black pudding and whippets" image [8] – but Summer Wine make it a point of difference in their business which has been running for almost ten years. The brewers write:

"We are a brewery with an extreme passion and a strong identity, our beers are unapologetically flavour forward in nature, hop and malt laden beers that challenge today's modern beer lover. Beers with heart, soul and raging personality.

Yorkshire largely has a traditional ethos when it comes to beer, one which no doubt has its place. However, our ethos is different, we plan to put Yorkshire beer on the map in a different way, by brewing avante garde beers that make people think twice about what they have accepted as the standard when it comes to beer.

We plan to tear up the rule book and brew beers that demand you sit up and take note by shaking up your senses and thus redefining how Yorkshire beer is perceived. We believe creativity is a gift that should be explored, this means tradition isn't always right and that things evolve including beer... Yorkshire beer is slumbering and we are the triple espresso for this lumbering giant..."

I like the cut of their jib and it certainly does not hurt that all three of their offerings at Malty are pale ales. First up is Summer Wine Oregon Pale Ale (5.5%) which weighs in at 55 IBUs. Light and bright in the glass, this beer is all about showing Cascade hops with notes of orange and pine. It finishes with a soft, beautiful finish which seems to gently mock that high bitterness rating. A fine summer quaffer which even works in the depths of winter.

While Summer Wine Sabretooth IPA (6.9%) officially has the same bitterness as Oregon (55 IBUs), it is much less subtle and much more up in your face. The use of Columbus and Summit hops produces a fat beer, sweet caramel in the middle and lashings of grapefruit in the fulsome nose and lingering finish.

Finally, there is a hop bomb called Summer Wine Maelstrom Double IPA (9%). Maelstrom seems an apt moniker as this beer contains flurries of Columbus, Centennial and Simcoe hops. The result is predictably a sticky, almost resinous beer with a huge nose and mouth-drying bitterness. It is, equally predictably, my pick of the bunch though Maelstrom will clearly not be to everyone’s taste. I tried this for the first time at the end of last year and cannot wait to do so again.

Next week, there will be details about International Beer Day, and the long and winding road to Beervana.

Next time, we drink to Colin Craig trying to sue Cameron Slater. This is a court room reality television show I would pay money to watch. [9]

Neil Miller
Beer and Brewer Magazine
Cuisine Magazine
TheShout Magazine
New Zealand Liquor News Magazine


[1] I am surprised this action item did not finish with a desire "to rule them all and in the darkness bind them..."
[2] Technically it was a text from Colin the Handsome yet Softly Spoken Scottish Malthouse Proprietor but that lacks a certain rhetorical whatchamacallit...
[3] The A1 Motorway was generally considered to be quicker between the wickets than Geoffrey Boycott.
[4] The English goalkeeper’s save against Pele is described as "The Save That Stopped the World." The world’s greatest player says he never figured out how his seemingly perfect header was stopped by Banks.
[5] Spoiler Alert: She dies at the end of James Bond.
[6] Spoiler Alert: He dies at the beginning, end or middle of virtually everything he is in.
[7] I do not think their maths is right on this one. I think the correct phrasing should be "many men and many women from Yorkshire..."
[8] Not me – I would never mock black pudding.
[9] This is based on the assumption that Colin Craig will actually sue. As noted elsewhere on the Interwebs, people who are serious about defamation tend to serve papers before announcing it. However, Mr Slater is so keen to get it on (in a legal sense only of course) that he has offered to visit Mr Craig and pick up the court papers himself. Pass the ribs and IPA!

“The Save That Stopped the World”
Summer Wine Brewery
Timothy Taylor Landlord
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