Tag Archives: Tyne Bank

Tyne Bank brewday – in pictures


Our latest collaboration brewday saw us venture outside our native lands for the first time, and make the short cross-border trip to Newcastle*. The Tyne Bank brewery began life in May 2011, located on an industrial estate in Ouseburn, a short stroll along the glittering riverbank from the city centre. We’ve had an affinity with Tyne Bank pretty much since they opened, following an enjoyable visit there during one of the much-missed twissups, almost exactly two years ago to the day. With that in mind, it seemed fitting that we returned there to help out with the brewing of their annual Christmas beer.

*It was considerably longer on the way back – thanks, Network Rail…


Every year, owner Julia Austin puts up a two Christmas-themed suggestions on their website, and Tyne Bank fans decide what head brewer Mark McGarry and the rest of the brewteam produce. For 2013, the choices were a cranberry pale ale, or a festively-spiced Black IPA. Both sounded intriguing, but by a near 2-1 margin, the latter option came out on top. So it was, our first job following the mashing in (which we missed, even having arrived at 9am), was to zest an entire box of clementines and limes (plus, on occasion, my fingertips). I’ve never smelled a pint of orange/lime zest before; I can only describe it as sinus-clearing.


So, the question was, how do you make a black IPA festive? Would you even want to? Well, it’s an interesting idea, balancing west-cost USA hops with Christmas-spice. The bridge connecting the two groups of flavours is right here – spruce tips. Paul and Tyne Bank apprentice brewer Sean snipped a bin-liner full of spruce branches, ‘foraged’ from Sean’s ‘garden’ that morning. It might not look like much, but made into (effectively) a giant herbal tea bag, steeped in the underback with a load of dry-hops, Mark felt it would impart a decent amount of sweet spruciness to the brew.


Being an IPA-base, the beer had to be hoppy, and Mark adds the first of several additions of Cascade, Chinook and Amarillo (in that order). Whilst we were there, it came to light that Mark had handed in his notice and was going to be opening up his own brewery within the next few months. That’s great news for him – he’s got some serious talent – and the (as yet) un-named brewery should be up and running in Newcastle by the end of March. It’s all very amicable, though, and Julia has started to look for Mark’s replacement whilst he’s producing beer well into next year – ensuring as seamless a transition as possible.


After the hops, some classic festive spices went in – small heroin-esque bags of cinnamon and ginger, a procession of small bags of cloves, and then the pint of mixed zest. At this point, the smell roiling up from the copper was incredible – something akin to a hopped-up custard tart (even without nutmeg). Other than that, it was time to fulfil the age-old “blogger’s choice” and clean out the mash tun, which on an 18bbl brew took a fair bit of effort; rewarded soon after by a taste of Tyne Bank Southern Star from the CT (and, of course, a case-load of zest-free oranges to eat up).


The final thing to do as the beer transferred was to dunk the spruce/Amarillo tea bag in the underback, and keep it submerged to get the flavours though. This was done via the high-tech solution of leaning on an oar, prodding the submerged bag every now and again. After that, and final checks and cleaning, it was time to head to the Free Trade Inn, mere minutes away from the brewery. Thanks to Julia, Mark and the team for hosting us for the day; you can get your hands on Tyne Bank’s Festive Black IPA in a few weeks, look out for it on cask in the North East and the Edinburgh area (including one potentially very special cask). Our next collab brewday should be announced soon, check back later for details!

Announcing the Tyne Bank/BeerCast Christmas collaboration!


We may only be slipping quietly into November at the end of this week, just after the clocks have gone back – but with a lurching inevitability, the Christmas adverts will be on the telly very soon. As well as retailers, brewers are forced to think about the festive season some way in advance – the slew of Christmas and Winter ales that appear need to be fermented and conditioned well before the seals on the advent calendars are even bruised. So, with that in mind, it’s time to announce our latest BeerCast brewday – and it’s one with a festive theme, that you can help decide on!

In mid-November we’ll be heading down to the fantastic Tyne Bank Brewery in Newcastle to brew their Christmas beer – and, as per their tradition, two possible choices are listed on their website. Whatever the result of the public vote, we’ll be brewing with Julia, Mark and the team, and it will then be released well in time for Christmas. Last time around, their poll-winning beer became the seriously tasty Chocolate Orange Stout – so what are the two potential festive ales this time around? Well, take your pick from…

a) Cranberry Pale Ale (4.5%) A Pale Ale brewed with a sweet malt base to balance the tartness of the cranberries

b) Festive Black IPA (5.1%) A black IPA brewed with new world hops and a slew of Christmas spices

To make your vote official, head to the Tyne Bank website and pick one of the two options – the link is right here

We’ll keep you updated about which beer ends up being chosen, and check back in the second week of November for how we got on in the ‘toon. For details of previous BeerCast brewdays, check out the links below. Cheers! And Merry Chris

Previous BeerCast brewdays > Alechemy; Ayr; DemonBrew; Black Isle; BrewDog.

Sainsbury’s Great British Beer Hunt 2012

Over the past few years supermarkets have caught on to the ‘premium bottled ale’ market, steadily improving the selection of beer in their stores, and some even moving towards regional variation to appeal to shoppers. Sainsbury’s launched a contest in 2008 to encourage brewers to offer up their PBA’s for selection – with Bath Ales Barnstormer and O’Kells IPA coming out on top. The competition has continued, having been tweaked over the past few years – but the prize of a minimum sixth-month national listing has remained, to act as an incentive.

Scotland has traditionally been well-represented – even BrewDog entered in the past, and Williams Brothers dispatch half a dozen hopefuls every year. It paid off last time as their lager/IPA hybrid Caesar Augustus finished in the top two and appeared on shelves up and down the country. For 2012, the regions were juggled about and increased from four to five, and a split-level prize pot created. Brewers could decided whether to enter their beers for regional listing – in which case the pick of the heats would go straight into local branches – or national, so they would then be judged again against those from the rest of the UK, with the winners of that round gaining nationwide glory.

I’m used to blind competition judging – whereby you’re given an anonymous glass of beer to sample. Helping to judge the Great British Beer Hunt was completely different. All 21 beers were layed out to be perused, giving you the chance to go down the row, selecting eight to taste. They may as well have just gone the whole hog and given you a trolley to put them in. Selecting a beer based on the bottle is something we’ve all done, and even today there are some brewers who just don’t seem to appreciate that. Walk into your local wine shop and see how many bottles have non-white, non-plain labels these days.

With the eight choices poured for us at a small bar, it was time to take our trays away and start the tasting. The Scottish heat was held in a function room at Hibernian’s Easter Road, so we had a great view of the silent stadium as an accompaniment – Hibs were busy elsewhere, losing at St Mirren. I sat on a table with a quite lovely retired couple (people meandering past must have thought I’d brought my parents). Stalwarts of the Bow Bar, they filled me in on the best secret on how to avoid the boozing crowds – do your drinking at lunchtime. When I retire at 85, I might just try that!

We chatted about how we had decided on our eight samples. Looking at the row of bottles, I picked out the ones I hadn’t yet tried (must be the RateBeer in me). The couple at my table went for beers they liked, and a few they wanted to sample (with mixed results). I was surprised we weren’t given a questionnaire on how we made that choice – given the importance of branding and the vagaries of the consumer. Maybe as the eventual national finalists will be rolled out for the public, Sainsbury’s will get their feedback at that stage instead.

The beers that were up for judging are below, with my eight sample selections in bold. Eagle-eyed readers will wonder why Mordue and Tyne Bank seem to be in Scotland – chatting to Mark and Julia from TB afterwards over some beery shots, they revealed the deadline for entry (announced on the SIBA website) came too late for the Northern heat, so they packed up the transit for a spot of cross-border goodwill. That was a great thing about the competition – representatives of the brewers (or in Mark’s case, the man himself) were downstairs, available for questions afterwards.

Scottish Region shortlist, 2012
Arran – Clyde Puffer, Fireside
Broughton – Dark Dunter, Merlin
Cairngorm – Trade Winds, White Lady, Wildcat
Caledonian – Deuchars Imperial
Harviestoun – Wild Hop Gold
Mordue – IPA
Sinclair Orkney – Corncrake, Three Sisters
TSA – Double Espresso Stout
Tyne Bank – Castle Gold, Monument Bitter, Silver Dollar
Williams – Black, Gold, Impale, Pavlov’s Dog, Prodigal Sun, Red

The first of my four winning beers was Williams Impale – probably the best of my eight samples. Bright passion fruit and tropical aromas, a nice bit of citrus, very floral – it was lovely. The champion of the Heriot-Watt ICBD competition, it was created by homebrewer Ed Young – and I can see why it won. The second choice of the day for me was Broughton Dark Dunter, a reasonably new roasty blackurrant old ale. With a surprising finish similar to oaky sherry, it’s one to seek out on cask, I’d imagine.

The next of my picks was Tyne Bank’s Castle Gold. I’ve had it before, and it’s a great golden ale. Clear, lightly rising bitterness – you could drink this all day, which is the type of beer you need in supermarkets to give the slabs of Fosters the heave-ho. My final choice was trickier, but I went for Harviestoun’s Wild Hop Gold (wild as in ‘crazy amounts’, rather than hedgerow). A lot of ginger flavour in there too, battling with the Citra and Simcoe.

So, we’ll see if my scribbled crosses end up in the right boxes. Thanks to Richard Morrice for the invite, and to all of the brewery representatives I managed to speak to. Next time you’re in the Bow at lunchtime and see a nice retired couple, buy them a pint for me.

Breweries to watch out for in 2012…

As we head into the New Year, the UK brewing scene seems to be in great shape. The economic climate might be as bad as a Scottish hurricane, and the Government seems intent on sticking it to everybody in the industry (with a few, notable, exceptions) – but this is a fantastic time to be a beer drinker. Whether you like traditional foamy pints of cask ale, or tonsil-stripping keg beer in funny glassware – 2012 could be very good for British brewing. Why? Well, we think several breweries are going to have breakout years.* Here’s our list of the players who are about to step up – from both sides of the border…


Tempest Brewing Co
Considering what they did in 2011, this year could be when Kelso’s Tempest Brewing becomes a major name in UK brewing. Brewer Gavin Meiklejohn has already produced some astonishing beer from his plant in an abandoned dairy in the Scottish Borders. RyePA was one of our beers of the year – but any of half a dozen could have featured. Tempest are our tip to look for in 2012 when it comes to Scottish brewing.

Black Isle Brewery
If there’s one producer north of the border that seem rejuvenated, it’s Black Isle. A new sales and marketing team in 2011, coupled with a new head brewer (Colin Stronge, ex-Marble of Manchester) – and all of a sudden the 4% pale ales have been shunted aside by barrel-aged this and Imperial that. The session beers are still there (some having been gently tweaked) – but Black Isle aren’t so much on a roll as a Highland charge. Don’t believe us? Here’s what they have planned…

Luckie Ales
I’ve never been to Stuart McLuckie’s tiny brewery, located somewhere in the midst of the Fife countryside. I imagine there’s a small barn where you have to turn the second flowerpot on a certain shelf to gain access. The beers Stuart produces taste like they come from the chamber of an underground genius – delivered by hand to only a couple of Scottish outlets, they are as rare as beer gets. Look for great things from Luckie in 2012.

Stewart Brewing
The most anxiously-awaited signature in Edinburgh since that to cancel the trams has finally taken place (although the trams are still with us). Loanhead’s Stewart Brewing have finally received permission to relocate their facility to…Loanhead. Moving round the corner means more room for Steve, Jo and the team – already pushed to the limit. It also means a chance to experiment more, and to add to their lineup this year.

Loch Ness Brewery
The Benleva Hotel in Drumnadrochit gained a small two-barrel plant last year, and after a sensible amount of time getting ideas together – look out for the Loch Ness Brewery in 2012. Both their cask and bottling operations begin in earnest very soon, so for what is pretty much an entirely unknown quantity, hopefully good beer will be the result. There are a few recent start-ups in Scotland now, June’s Scottish Real Ale Festival could see plenty of new faces.


Summer Wine
Being based in Edinburgh, we often find out about English brewing news second-hand – from some of our peers over the border. Holmfirth’s Summer Wine Brewery blazed a trail through the Yorkshire blogosphere last year – and they have the potential to go even bigger in 2012. Keen to experiment, and at that stage where anything seems possible, a new beer every other week could be the order of the day for many months.

Tyne Bank
We do stretch our legs sometimes, however, and in November we Twissup’d around Newcastle with many other beer fans. One of the day’s many highlights was a trip to Tyne Bank (another being their Cherry Stout). Having only begun in May 2011, they are clearly run the right way – by people with a genuine passion for beer. As their distribution network increases throughout 2012, they are definitely ones to watch over the near future.

The world loves an underdog, and in brewing there’s no bigger hill to climb than opening a brewery by yourself. Toby McKenzie took the plunge in late-2010, opening the RedWillow Brewery in an industrial unit in Macclesfield. His oyster stout – Fathomless – was one of our best new beers of last year, and his blog really brings home how hard it is to brew for a living. But with Toby’s determination, RedWillow will make it.

Henley’s Lovibonds Brewery aren’t new on the scene – they were founded in 2005, following in the footsteps of their namesakes who traded in the town for just over 50yrs. Jeff Rosenmeier and his team make all kinds of beer, in all kinds of different ways. Three weeks ago several of their products reached Scotland for the first time – at the opening of Glasgow’s Bruadar Bar. If more follows, the secret could be out.

Mallinsons Brewing Co
Is there a harder working brewer in Britain than Tara Mallinson? Fans of hoppy golden ales in Huddersfield have been spoiled for choice over the last five years or so. Currently working on their 250th(ish) creation, Mallinson’s know what they do well, and stick to it. Every one of their beers I’ve tried has been incredibly drinkable – if they keep going at the same pace, global session dominance awaits.

So that’s our list – undoubtedly there will be plenty of other new UK breweries that will capture the attention over the next twelve months, and many more existing producers who will raise their games in 2012. We couldn’t fit them all on this post – which are you looking towards for great things this year?

*And when have we ever been wrong?

In the toon…on the twiss’

A blogging version of Where’s Wally?

Beer bloggers tend to be a friendly bunch – and by and large get on well with each other (unless someone mentions sparklers, CAMRA, cask v keg, ‘black’ IPA’s, or the Oxford Companion to Beer). As such, each year a large group descend on a beery city and attempt to deplete it of every beer over 6% within a few hours. Last weekend, the latest Twitter-led pissup (Twissup) took place in Newcastle, and the BeerCast made the 90min journey southwards from Edinburgh for the day.

Being a 10am train connecting Scotland and Newcastle, everyone apart from the conductor and ourselves was already drinking – from the lads with the crate of Stella to the young girls downing pink champagne (“Totally – she was proper tonguing him!”). Saving ourselves for the beery delights, we prepped the moleskine notebook and waited for 11:30 – arriving at Bacchus on High Bridge. What an amazing place – forget about the ocean liner décor for a moment (see photo above) – the beer selection was astonishing.

What’s a good late-morning tipple? The 9% Highland Old Norway? 7% Nøgne Ø Porter? 7.4% Black Isle Black Stout? 6% Summer Wine Diablo? Clearly, the chaps at Bacchus knew we were coming. After a couple of warmup beers – including the bespoke house beer from Yorkshire Dales Brewery – Bacchus vs Zeus (3.7%), it was time to catch up with the fellow beer writers, brewers and lucky partners who had made it to the event.

That done, and a few names/faces sorted out, it was off to a brewery for a visit. Tyne Bank started production only six months ago, having been founded by ex-chemical industry worker Julia Austin. Along with head brewer Mark McGarry, they gave us an interesting talk on the formation of Tyne Bank, and their philosophy of production. We also got to try a number of their beers – such as the lovely 5.2% Cherry Oatmeal Stout – the oatmeal really brings the cherry in line nicely. The Monument Bitter was also excellent.

Tour complete, and Julia kindly pointed us in the direction of the Cumberland Arms “You have to go through a bit of a sketchy area, but it’s daylight so you’ll be fine”. What a fantastic place (the pub, not the neighbourhood). An end-row alehouse with the houses having been demolished, it’s like a real-ale island. Gravity dispense, wooden interior, huge range of beer and cider, and a tremendous spicy chicken ciabatta. Even outdoor seating (although it got extremely parky – even for visitors from Scotland).

From the Cumberland, we wandered off and ended up in another great pub – the Free Trade Inn. Firstly, the view along the Tyne was really something. The beers, too, were just as good. Highlights included two from Summer Wine – the marmaladey Covenant and deep roasty Cohort. The amiable Dave Bailey was floating about, so we got an impromptu ‘behind the beer’ story of Hardknott Vitesse Noir – a wonderful 11% vanilla and coffee infused imperial stout.

Also, a mention of Panda & Frog Pandazilla (7%) – produced at the Mordue Brewery as a side project by blogger and assistant brewer Rob. A Cascadian Dark Ale (although we didn’t know that at the time), it was creamy, with plenty of coffee and banana, and big walloping booze hit at the end. Love the pump clip, too. By this time, the Twissup had fragmented a bit, as others went to the Cumberland for food – so we hot-footed in back into town along the river.

Everyone in the UK knows the reputation of Newcastle for being a party town – high heels and coat-free hedonism, whatever the weather. Having never been on a night out there before, I can safely say this is a colossal understatement. I’ve never been anywhere on Earth with a higher concentration of pubs, bars and clubs. It seemed like the whole of England was there, tottering about in their best shoes, or shirts, or both. Drink is the currency in Newcastle. Drink.

A quick trip to the Newcastle Arms – found everyone about to leave again, for somewhere else (but we also found Thornbridge Crux – can they do no wrong?). So us hardy Scots ended up back in Bacchus, piling through the big hitters. At 8pm, beers that seem too much at 11am go down a treat – witness the Old Norway, and Nøgne Ø Porter. Cracking stuff. Home on a deserted train, rejuvenated by the warmth of a Burger King takeout, another Twissup complete. Nineteen new beers in the book, as well – although, clearly, I am not a ticker.

Many thanks to Andy and Mark for sorting out the twissup, not to mention the local bloggers for taking the group under their Geordie wings. Big thanks also to Julia and Mark at Tyne Bank, and to all of the pubs we ended up in during the day. Where next, for Twissup’12?