Number of East Yorkshire breweries has doubled over past year
A BOOMING thirst for real ale has seen the number of breweries in East Yorkshire more than double over the past year.
The brewing revolution has filtered into each corner of the region, from the rolling countryside of Holderness to the creative quarter that is Hull's Fruit Market.
The Camra Good Beer Guide, published today, reveals there are now seven breweries in operation in East Yorkshire – up from three last year.
However, due to way the Camra regions are divided up, "East Yorkshire" does not include Goole or Howden, where a further two breweries have launched this year. Nor does it include places such as Wold Newton, which boasts the well-established Wold Top Brewery.
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Taking these shifting boundaries into account, the East Riding now boasts more than ten breweries.
The latest to pop up is the Yorkshire Brewery Company, in Humber Street, Hull.
Founded by Guy Falkingham, the micro- brewery has been whetting the appetite of real ale connoisseurs since its launch in April.
It now produces a core range of three beers, in addition to ales brewed especially to mark certain events, such as the Trinity Ale, which was produced especially for Camra's Hull and East Yorkshire Beer Festival.
Mr Falkingham said: "The brewery only launched a few months ago but we make about 2,000 pints every time we brew, which is on average four times a week.
"I've found there is a huge market demand for our products, particularly as people are becoming more conscious of buying locally.
"It is an area that is growing in interest and we can see lots of opportunities."
Mr Falkingham's passion for real ale prompted him to try his hand at creating ales as a hobby before taking a dedicated microbrewing course at Sunderland University.
Following five years of hard work, which included sourcing equipment, premises and a range of recipe ideas, he launched the Yorkshire Brewery Company in a former fruit warehouse and has not looked back.
"We have had a lot of enquiries about exporting our products and are already supplying local restaurants, which is an area we are working to grow," he said.
"We are also going to start bottling our products so they can be bought by the public."
The Wellington Inn in Hull's Russell Street recently marked its first year of creating its own ales after launching a microbrewery at the pub in July last year
Since then, the Wellington has produced more than 19 real ales, each of which bears a name which gives a nod to the Duke of Wellington.
Other new breweries appearing in the Good Beer Guide include the Big River Brewery at Brough and the Brass Castle Brewery at Pocklington.
Hot on their heels is the Goodmanham Brewery, which is housed at the Goodmanham Arms, near Market Weighton.
These fledgling operations join established breweries including the Bird Brain Brewery in Howden, the Old Mill Brewery in Snaith, the Whalebone Brewery in Wincolmlee and Great Newsome Brewery, in South Frodingham.
Real ale has been enjoying something of a renaissance for a number of years and shows no signs of slowing down.
If anything, it is still growing in popularity – a trend reflected in Camra's membership, which locally has increased by about 25 per cent over the past three years.
It is not only good news for Camra and real ale fans, but also the local economy.
This is perfectly illustrated by Great Newsome Brewery, which was launched by Matthew Hodgson in 2007.
He said: "I think people underestimate what brewing brings to the local economy.
"We always use local firms where possible and in the last year we have actually increased capacity at the brewery.
"This has resulted in work for a Hull-based building firm and a local firm of fabricators.
"We also use a local haulage firm and a Leven-based public relations company and as we are busier we require more casks and bottles, which we source locally.
"We have just started getting our labels done by a firm in Hull while all of our cardboard products, such as trays and boxes, and all of our gift packaging comes a firm in Hedon Road.
"At the end of the day this money filters back into the local economy, which is good for everyone."
While brewing beer may be up there with restaurant critic and bed-tester as one of the most desirable jobs to have, Mr Hodgson said, like any industry, it isn't always easy.
But he said the growing popularity of real ale meant businesses that ten years ago wouldn't entertain selling hand-pulled beer were now keen to keep up with customer demand.
"Even in the past 18 months we have noticed the variety of outlets which stock our beer has increased," he said.
"Places such as hotels, sports clubs and even people at home with a bar in their shed are now adding to demand."
Stewart Campbell, of Camra's Hull and East Yorkshire branch, said he believed the recession was actually helping to drive sales of real ale as people paid much more attention to where they spent their hard-earned cash.
He said: "In times of recession people have less money to spend, so they are looking for quality over quantity, and many are turning to real ale.
"It has always surprised me East Yorkshire has not had more breweries in the past because all of the breweries use barley grown in this region.
"But now we are clearly catching up."