Meet The Home Brewer: David Bishop (@broadfordbrewer) | Beer Reviews – Beer Blog

Meet me, the homebrewer me, over on Beer Reviews.

Meet The Home Brewer: David Bishop (@broadfordbrewer) | Beer Reviews – Beer Blog.

Brass Castle Brewery


As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a homebrewer dreaming of progressing my hobby in the hope that one day I’ll be successfull in selling my beer.  With the brewing industry going from strength to strength and scores of new breweries opening in the last few years, I happened across one start-up brewery who is living this dream.  Brass Castle is a real ale nanobrewery in Pocklington, East Yorkshire.  I hail from a small town in East Yorkshire and moved to Bradford 25 years ago, but I still have a strong connection with the region which makes Brass Castle that bit more of an interest to me.  I’m also very interested in the use of social media to promote brewing and was in touch with Brass Castle when I researched one of my previous blog posts (You are Mutually Oblivious & subsequently You are Mutually Oblivious 2), which shows their Twitter Following rapidly increase as they engaged with the brewing community.  This appears to me to be a subject being taken more seriously by brewers entering a very competitive market, and one where you may see more breweries following Camden Town Brewery‘s example in their recent appointment of Mark Dredge as their social media guru.

The Brass Castle Nanobrewery

Phil Saltonstall is the owner, brewer and general brew-monkey of the Brass Castle Brewery.  There is definitely a romantic image of owning your own brewery, but I happen to know that it doesn’t all smell of hops!  Plenty goes on behind the pint glass and and it’s hard graft.  Phil is just one example of an amateur homebrewer who, over a period of years, has taken the plunge and turned professional.  Through homebrewing and through his time working at the Triumph Brewing Company in Princeton, New Jersey, Phil has honed his skills and his confidence and is putting his money where his mouth is.  What strikes me though as that you can make this transition from any walk of life and in some cases it is possible to balance brewing with a busy life.  Before concentrating on his beer-calling, Phil was a Royal Navy Lynx helicopter pilot for 9 years and is now a full-time coastguard, but following a Brewlab course at the University of Sunderland and I imagine countless hours he has successfully built his brewery, tested his recipes and sold his beer! Bravo sir!

Phil Mashing In

To paraphrase some of the comments Phil has made in response to his beer going public, he has been both delighted and encouraged with the early interest he’s received from local pubs and festivals, so much so that he brought forward the launch date of his debut beer.  The original plan was to launch at Pocktoberfest, (@Pocktoberfest if you want to follow their updates), the Pocklington based Music & Beer Festival 2011.  However, given the opportunity to get involved in nearby York, Brass Castle’s Cliffhanger debuted at The Swan and The Slip Inn’s beer festival between 2nd and 4th September.  Seemingly things went well for their first commercial outing and an empty cask along with positive feedback says it all.

Next up is the York Beer and Cider Festival on Knavesmire 15th-17th September where punters will have the pleasure of trying Brass Castle’s second brew, Bad Kitty, a 5.5% abv vanilla porter, along with Cliffhanger 3.8% abv and described as a refreshing hop-laden golden ale, infused with a wave of citrus notes (brewed in honour of Coastguard Rescue Teams, and a proportion of the takings at The Swan and Slip Inn were donated to the Coastguard Association).

Following on from York’s Festival it’s on to the local Pocktoberfest ,29th-30th October, where there will be a chance to try the third addition to Phil’s range, a 4.5% abv Best Bitter.  All’s left to say is keep up the good work Phil (and Harriet) and I look forward to trying your beers the next time I make a trip back to visit family… although I may call ahead and reserve some to make sure I don’t miss out!

Thanks for reading.

If you want to read more about Brass Castle Brewery you can do so at Andy Mogg’s Beer Reviews site in his regular spot; ‘Meet the Brewer‘, in the York Press ‘New Brewery on a Real Cliffhanger‘.  Also, keep an eye on the development of Phil’s website too and don’t forget to Follow @BrassCastleBeer on Twitter to get an insight into a brewers crazy world.  N.B Brass Castle’s beers are also suitable for Vegans.

A Beer in the Hand

PictureWhile catching up on my Tweets late on Tuesday night I noticed @Filrd (a fellow Twitterer) reporting on his thoughts while enjoying a bottle of Urthel Samaranth 12, and  this reminded me that not only did I have a bottle stashed away, but also that I had vowed to leave it alone for the medium-term.  (More on Urthel Samaranth here and here).

Like @Filrd I too was recommended this particular beer by the good folk @BeerRitzLeeds.  Specifically, I had asked for a few recommendations from @GhostDrinker for beers that I shouldn’t be missing out on, as well as a small selection of beers that would be just as happy being kept in a cupboard collecting dust for a few years.  One of the beers he suggested would keep well, was the Urthel Samaranth.

Picture in the selection for ‘drinking now’, a bottle which I enjoyed while writing this blog.  This is not an attempt to make tasting notes, although if you are interested in this 9.5% blonde hoppy beer there are great reviews on ratebeer or beer advocate.  I am wanting to debate the choice one makes as a beer drinker, to drink now or to save it for later in the knowledge, or just blind hope, that the beer will change or improve in one or more ways.

At first I simply wanted to write a quick blog around what I thought was a clever adaptation of a well known saying.  Only that, once applied to beer it would now read; ‘a beer in the hand is worth two in the cupboard’.  But as I typed I realised that it was much more than just a quip, it was a choice facing many a beer aficionado each time the big-hand strikes beer o’clock.
Getting back to the Urthel Samaranth, @Filrd was honest enough to admit that he had “relented” his good intentions to age it a little and was drinking his bottle as the mood had dictated.  In fact, he had opened it at midnight and was ‘pairing’ it with some chilli crackers, which in his honest opinion were maybe hiding some of its glory.  Like me, @Filrd is a bit of a hoarder when it comes to beer.  If you aren’t into this, then you may struggle to understand why someone would want to spend good money on something they love and then squirrel it away?  Well, there are probably several contributing factors in this lifestyle choice and I’m standing in the wrong corner to judge.  But, I think it’s fair to say that it’s a hobby of sorts and the behaviour is most likely borne out of a passion for wanting to try many different beers and also look at their diversity when given a chance to mature.  Believe me when I say the latter is a challenge!

I apologise for this post being Twitter orientated, but right now this is the best single way I can find to keep in touch with what’s happening up-to-the-minute in the beer world.  Oh, and I’m addicted to it.  However, through Twitter I frequently read fellow beery types referring to @beercupboard and also to a [hashtag] #openit.

  • People use the hashtag symbol # before relevant keywords in their Tweet to categorize those Tweets to show more easily in Twitter Search; Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you all other Tweets in that category; and hashtagged words that become very popular are often Trending Topics.
PictureIn my opinion, I think that @beercupboard and #openit illustrate two points of interest that appeal to beer lovers, [this may not be the intended meaning – only the owners of these ideas can decide that], i.e. drinking beer now and drinking beer later!   Neither is the best way of course, and one might prescribe to both.  In slight contrast, (but it could be argued that it helps beer-hoarders everywhere to ‘come clean’ and publicly air their beery vaults in much the same way that ‘#Open it!’ does), @beercupboard helps celebrate the notion of storing the noble beer whatever its status, along with the mission that anyone can have a beer cupboard and that they come in all shapes and sizes.   It’s a fun idea and one which has been supported by many beer lovers.
PictureBack in 2010 Andy Mogg (blogger at  Beer Reviews) and Mark Dredge (British Guild of Beer Writers New Media Writer of the Year 2009 and 2010 and blogger at Pencil and Spoon), proposed the idea of ‘Open it!‘.  The idea of Open it! being to dig out those special beers at the back of your beer cupboard, or from a corner of your cellar, and to drink them dagnamit!  This idea quickly gathered speed and, as I understand it, has continued in both an organised and ad hoc crusade to liberate long forgotten ales and keepsakes.

Having set out to explore whether a ‘a beer in the hand is worth two in the cupboard’, I can’t claim to have unlocked any meaning behind the drinking and storing of beer.  However, and based on my own shortcomings, I can assume that the concept of ageing beer be it under the kitchen sink or in a purpose built beer cellar, will torment even the hardened beery journeyman and the temptation will often simply prove too much to resist.

So why not go and add your beercupboard and share your haven-for-hops or your mansion-of-malts, and also, if you have the ammunition, join in with a future #openit, or why not just have your own impromptu session.  After all you don’t need an excuse to enjoy a beer.