WharfeBank Brewery the award-winning producer of hand-crafted ales in the heart of Yorkshire
- Credit: Archant
WharfeBank Brewery is an award-winning producer of hand-crafted ales in the heart of Yorkshire. It was founded in 2010 by Martin Kellaway, a former national sales director with Caledonian who decided to take advantage of a sliding scale duty relief for small breweries, which effectively halved the amount of duty paid on beer for those producing less than 3,125 brewer’s barrels a year.
He bought a pub with on-site brewing facilities – The Fox and Newt in Leeds – and began trialling his own creations, Camfell Flame, Slingers Gold and Tether Blond, on his customers.
Initial success means the brewing operation had to move to a new state-of-the-art, 20-barrel brew plant on the banks of the River Wharfe in Pool-in-Wharfedale just a few months later.
In its first year of trading, WharfeBank took one of its first cask ales, Camfell Flame, to Leeds Campaign For Real Ale Beer Festival, where it took the top prize.
‘This win gave us confidence in our product, the appetite to experiment with flavour in our core range and the momentum to diversify into monthly seasonal ales,’ said Martin. ‘We’ve never looked back.’
The brewery’s Treacle Toffee Stout was voted Beer of the Festival at last year’s Otley Beer Festival, beating more than 60 other beers.
Since then, WharfeBank has diversified into the bottle market and, at the end of 2012, won a long-term contract to brew, bottle, sell and distribute beer created from the hops harvested around Harewood House in Leeds. The team, led by master brewer Jayne Hewitt, is creating three bottle, cask and keg beers: Harewood Gold, a strong, golden India Pale Ale; Harewood Red, a traditional, premium red ale named after the red kites often seen on the estate; and Harewood Dark, a traditional dark stout.
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In a bid to expand into the European market, the business supplied the 2013 Barcelona Beer Festival with one of its core keg beers, Yorkshire SPA. This is a new craft beer festival showcasing more than 300 specially selected ales.
‘We’re currently exploring all avenues of distribution to export keg and bottled beers to Europe,’ said Martin. ‘We’ve trialled Yorkshire SPA in several bars across Barcelona and it’s proved there is a market for our beers as customers liked the fact it was distinctively British. The trial also helped us to secure sales with more than 20 bars across Catalonia.’
Closer to home, the brewery has developed three pubs of its own: The Fleece in Otley; The Half Moon Inn in Pool-in-Wharfedale; and the Rook & Gaskill in York.
‘They provide us with the direct feedback we need to build on the success of the business and our products,’ said Martin. ‘We value the views of beer-drinkers and licensees; they’re a vital part of our continued development.’
The business recently launched WharfeBank Brewery Master Cellar Club, a loyalty scheme designed to build long-term relationships with Yorkshire publicans by offering bespoke products at competitive prices.
‘We’ve created the club so we can work closely with publicans,’ Martin explained. ‘We’ll also add value through staff training, brewery tours, bespoke brewing opportunities and a selection of branded merchandise.