What do you get if you cross two ex teachers, a love of real ale and a room full of hops to choose from? The result is no joke, just a range of 11 distinctive single hop beers (all sampled personally) which are consistently good as well as bitters, milds and stouts.
West Yorkshire is experiencing a boom in new breweries, specialist beer shops and real ale pubs, from Halifax to Leeds and Ilkley to Huddersfield, such venues are opening on a regular basis and doing good trade. In the past 5 years, new breweries have appeared all over the area and longer term fixtures on the brewing map are going from strength to strength. One of the younger upstarts is Mallinsons at only 4 years old.
Mallinsons Brewery is ran by Tara Mallinsons and Elaine Yendall. One night at the Star Inn in Huddersfield, an idea formed, as do many ideas (good and bad) over a beer. Tara had already gained some experience of brewing with John Eastwood at the Elland brewery of the same name. With the shared love of real ale and the day job becoming stressful at times, the simple question was asked, why not make a living creating something we love.
From inception in 2003, it took five years to start the brewery. Initially only Tara was onboard full time, with Elaine combining the business with her existing teaching career, but in 2010 the trade finally allowed her to finally quit teaching to help run the business on a dedicated basis. The plant, located in an old factory unit in Lindley now produces 4 different beers, 70 casks and 600 bottles a week with a wide distribution area over the north of England. Both owners share the brewing responsibilities, with Tara concentrating on cask sales, Elaine on selling the bottled output. Three pubs currently have a permanent Mallinsons tap in Huddersfield, numbers they hope to increase.
The philosophy behind the operation is simple, like most brewers, it is to brew beer that you would like to drink yourself, but the real driving force behind what is brewed is hops. It is a very good time to be brewing single hop beers with new plants and variations being developed all over the world for the increasing market. However with a single hop beer the quality of the plant is king, a bad batch will ruin 5.5 barrels of beer, not something you can write off easily, with the same net results for a hop which doesn’t work solo. To avoid this new hops are added to an experimental multiple hop beer for aroma, the results from the successful candidate plants are then fed into a single hop recipe.
The thinking behind this obsession is that a good brewer should be able to produce really good single hop beers. One of the reasons that they concentrated on the blended hop beers when starting out was that when they finally produced their first, it had to be good. As in all breweries, some beers just don’t work out and recipes are never used, others need a refinement of the recipe before they are of the quality to be released. Their Amarillo is a case in point, the beer that now leaves the brewery being a very different beast to the original first brew.
As you would expect from a pair of hop heads, their favourite beer is pale and very hoppy, with Tara favouring the Centennial hop for its “sherbet lemon freshness”, while Elaine goes for the Citra plant for the aroma and distinctive taste as well as the fact that is one of the hops which doesn’t crumble when handled, very much a brewers point of view. The public seem to agree with Elaine as their “Citra” is the breweries best selling and most awarded beer.
A lot of the new hop varieties are coming from the new world of New Zealand, Australia and America. As pointed out on the Craft Beer Special from The Food Programme on Radio 4 a few weeks ago, like the wines from the region, the hops are generally fruity, bolder than the European varieties and can drive the flavour a single hop beer demands. Tara and Elaine plan to try as many as they can get imported. The last experiment to go to production, Galaxy was a success commercially, with the next hop to hit the experimental vat being Topaz from Australia, which if successful will be released later in the year.
The future for the company involves moving to larger premises, scaling up the same brewing plant (by Dave Porter) to a larger capacity from the original building, to keep the same production style. Bottling will still be done in-house (by an old pub friend), keeping complete control of the process from ingredients being delivered to the cask leaving the building. The philosophy of the company will not change, the two women will continue to brew what they want to, with plans to develop a dark hoppy IPA and more stronger beers. With one new beer being created once a week, it’ll be interesting to see what comes out from this ex car repair garage which has been converted to a nobler cause.
Looking locally to the brewery, Huddersfield and the surrounding towns are forging a reputation for high quality micro breweries, enough to justify a front page lead in the Huddersfield Examiner in early April. They join the local alumni of Empire Brewing, their very close neighbours Magic Rock, Summer Wine at Honley and the Riverhead Brewery Tap at Marsden. A group of brewers that has made the narrow strip between the M62 and the Peak District a hotbed for real ale drinkers. This is without mentioning a couple of brewpubs and smaller breweries like Golcar in the area. Huddersfield itself is becoming a destination for real ale with pubs like The Grove, The Sportsman and The Head of Steam forging a reputation. New specialist beer shops are opening with the arrival of HDM Beer Shop. This is a situation which can only be a winning one for the companies lining up to supply the market and with many willing customers in the area plus visitors, one which will benefit all involved.