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We feel pretty lucky at Brew York!
We set out to create something a little bit different and a big part of that was finding the right location. We wanted a place within the city walls, so we could create a venue as well as a brewery.
Two years ago, when I started looking for vacant premises within the city wall, I found the choices were pretty limited for the size we needed. But there was one property that caught my attention straight away. It was pretty big at 550 sqm, but what stood out for me was the fact it had a yard that backed on to the river Foss. Straight away, I was thinking Tap Room Beer Garden! I was pretty surprised that no-one else had already taken this building, as it had been on the market for almost 2 years, so I was also a little apprehensive.
After the first viewing though, I knew this was going to be the home of Brew York. Not everyone shared my vision for the building. Quite a few people couldn’t see beyond the bikes that were being stored there. Nor did they believe that people would venture far enough down Walmgate to reach us. But I believed they would and thankfully Lee also believed it! Cue the cheesy Field of Dreams reference, if we build it, they will come!
So, we felt pretty lucky, that we only had to view one premises and straight way we found our brewery & tap room. We signed the lease on 1st Dec 2015 and within the month we were underwater! Perhaps not as lucky as we first thought!
But in reality, we were still feeling pretty lucky! We got off pretty lightly in the 2015 floodings, thankfully we were still a building site, none of our equipment had been delivered and we managed to use it as an opportunity to build in further flood defences. We lost a couple of weeks on our build program, whereas most of our neighbours and now friends suffered huge financial losses in stock and were forced to close for many months. Thankfully most are back up and running and thriving again.
It took quite some work to get the brewery & tap room ready, but our equipment was being fabricated, so we had 3 months to get it done. Countless long long days and hundreds of hours of help from friends and family meant that we brewed our first beer on Mar x 2016 and threw a launch party for the beer and tap room on April 7th 2016. And it turns out that you did come! We built it and we were overwhelmed by the support we got for our new venture. Every event we have held at the brewery has been really well attended and weekend at the tap room seem to get busier and busier. We think there a great atmosphere down the tap room, due to the people we get coming to see us and we’re really thankful for that.
When we designed the brewery and arranged the layout of the building, it was based around an immersive experience, where the customer feels they are drinking within the brewery itself and as such wanted the brewhouse layout to be open to the tap room. But we also always hoped the brewery itself would grow. Our three year plan was to increase to 100hl of fermentation capacity. And as such we designed the brewing area in particular to accommodate this growth.
To some extent this worked pretty well. In January we took delivery of a new 50hl tank, which slotted straight in place, with a little effort and shuffling of our existing tanks. We were & still are incredibly proud of this! That (pretty huge tank) took us up to 115hl within 10 months of launching. A big check on our 3 year plan already ticked off! We had no additional building work to do or equipment to purchase. Our original process chiller (for the tanks) was sized to accommodate growth and our floor was already in place. We had the vessel delivered on Tuesday morning, had the chilling engineer in on Wednesday to add some more glycol to the system and we we using the vessel the next day for a huge batch of Tonkoko. Happy days!
Only 2 months later and we are expanding again. We are over the moon to be adding another three 50 hl tanks to the brewery, which will allow us to continue to produce a core range of 6 beers, whilst allowing us to throw off the shackles and create some weird and wonderful experimental brews under our Beta range banner. We are looking to release over 20 new beers this year, which is what we love to do. Our next release will be x-panda a 4.5% session IPA with an ever changing and expanding portfolio of hops.
We still can’t really believe it, but we now have 260hl of fermentation capacity, thats 46,000 pints of beer! Now this latest expansion isn’t going to be anywhere near as easy as the first. But thankfully we have quite a bit of space in our brewery! Work started last week, when we knocked down our existing brewery wall and we have had our bund extended. The tanks are on site at the brewery as I type, just waiting for the resin floor to go down. The tanks should be in use by the end of March, still within a year of our launch.
Our next logistical challenge, more tanks = more finished beer. Our current cold store is a reasonable size and can just about cope with 115hl, but there is no chance we can store 260hl of beer in there, even if it is only for a few days at a time. So we have been on the lookout for some extra storage. And wouldn’t you know, our luck kicked in again! The building next door to us came on the market, which happens to be an old Maltings building.
We are really pleased to have just agreed terms with our landlord and now have another 175 sqm of cold storage. We are pretty excited about this, as we now have enough space to increase the amount of beer we put into cans, so watch out for a lot more of our one offs and specials making their way into can in the future. It also means we have space to store the oak barrels we have just sourced to start producing some exciting Barrel Aged (BA) projects, which is something we have wanted to do for quite a while now. Whiskey BA Magni anyone?
So as you can expect, we’re keeping ourselves pretty busy. But we wanted to let everyone know what we’ve been up to, as its all our customers who have helped to make this happen. So a huge thank you from us all at Brew York. Lets hope our next 12 months can be even better.