Six of the best Yorkshire Ales

Extensive research

Extensive research - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

This month the Editor has asked me to investigate Yorkshire ales — which is bit like ordering me to surf the web for artfully tasteful photographs of Monica Bellucci. You know, it’s something I was going to be doing anyway, so it’s no great hardship.

In fact, I’ve started my research early (about the Yorkshire ales, I mean. Not the Monica Bellucci photographs. I’ll get around to that later). A month or so ago, my American cousin, Tom, came to visit, keen to sight-see York. He had the usual list: the Minster, Shambles, Jorvik Centre, Clifford’s Tower, etc. We got a bit waylaid if truth be told because I suggested that we kick off with a tour of York Brewery, and see the city through the bottom of a glass.

He loved the idea. It turns out that Tom is a big brewery-tour fan and enjoys complicated beers, despite being an American, who, in my experience, usually like light fizzy ones. Anyway, we both agreed that the York Brewery Tour was excellent, particularly because you get to sample what you’ve seen fermenting in the barrels; and we would have gone around again if our respective other halves hadn’t been waiting outside impatiently tapping their respective feet. We did explain that we were researching an important article, but that didn’t cut any ice, mainly because a lot of the other York attractions on our list had closed by then.

The good news is there are loads of Yorkshire ale makers out there — and we sampled quite a lot of their wares in pubs and from bottle shops. The extra good news is that we have a lot more research to do. Anyway, here’s six of the best, chosen by myself and Tom. Yes, OK — he’s from New York, not old York. But he knows what he’s talking about.

York Brewery

A working brewery within York’s city walls. We tried a lot of York Brewery’s great beers during our visit, but, after much reflection, deemed Guzzler (light, golden and a bit fruity) our favourite. After we left, we went to my fine local pub (The Bay Horse in Murton, York) and — whoopee! — found it was on there too. So we had some more.

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Saltaire Brewery

Saltaire Brewery launched a new classic European ale called Bock 5.6% in February — a collaboration with Dark Star Brewing Company (which is based in some place called ‘Sussex’. Have you ever heard of it? Me neither). There’ll be a second collaboration beer later from the two breweries to celebrate Tour de France’s Le Grand Depart in July.

Wold Top Brewery, Driffield

I bought a selection of bottled beers from Wold Top for Tom, our unofficial Yorkshire ale correspondent, at Christmas. After painstaking deliberation, Tom chose the Wold Top Bitter as the best of the bunch. Then he said: ‘No wait – the Wold Gold. Hmmm. Or Angler’s Reward. To be honest, they’re all really good.’ Glad that’s clear, then.

Ilkley Brewery

Ilkley Brewery — which produces over 40,000 pints a week — is launching a beer from its Origins Range each month of 2014. We like the one from February, the Pata Negra Black IPA. But don’t take our word for it. Have a sup yourself.

Roosters, Knaresborough

A brewery that started in 1993 creating fabulous pale ales that ‘showcase exciting new hops from the USA’. So we nipped off to a pub to try some before you could say ‘star spangled banner.’ The permanent beer selection includes Yankee, Wild Mule and Buckeye, pardner — although Rooster now use hop varieties from all over the world.

Bad Seed Brewery, Malton

A great microbrewery, based in the North Yorkshire market town, which — as its strapline says — produces ‘handcrafted beers’. These include Saison, Espresso Stout, India Pale Ale and South Pacific Ale, available from bottle shops across Yorkshire.

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