Are you Yorkshire born and bred?
I was born in Middlesbrough in 1971, so yes I was born in North Yorkshire as it south of the river Tees. I could have played for Yorkshire County Cricket club if it wasn’t for one small problem, I was rubbish. I grew up in Yarm which is also south of the Tees but it became part of Cleveland county in 1973. So am I Yorkshire born and bred? I will let you decide.
What’s the idea behind Brewtown?
The idea of Brewtown Tours is to show off great local breweries and promote them, convince people to buy local and buy small, put money back into the local area rather line the pockets of directors of corporations whose only concern is to make profits. The aim of the brewers I visit is to make the best possible beer, and hopefully a few pounds as well. I love good quality beer and in all honesty the beer I drank in the late 80s and early 90s was not that. This explosion in microbreweries producing beer made with love and passion is fantastic.
Who should come on a tour?
Everyone over the age of 18. It is not just for beer lovers but also the beer curious. I have had lager drinkers converted to real ale, wine drinkers surprised with sour beers. A couple of none beer drinking journalists have come for an article and ending up smiling. The new wave of ‘craft breweries’ are very experimental with flavours and recipes. They make beers using ingredients like coffee, coconut, chocolate, fruits, lactose (milk stout & ice cream beer), souring them with bacteria and aging them in barrels. This has led to a new generation of drinkers enjoying beer.
You can fill your mini bus with anyone, alive or dead, and host the ultimate fantasy Brewtown tour – who’s coming?
- Dave Allen (comedian)
- Billy Connolly (comedian)
- George MacDonald Frazer (author)
- Princess Anne
- Jo Brand (comedian)
- Brian Johnston (cricket commentator)
- Gordon Brown (politician who brought in microbrewery duty relief, he deserves a beer)
- My Dad, shame he is not around to see what I am doing. I am sure he would be enjoying it.
What do you love most about your business?
Working for yourself is amazingly hardly work but rewarding, satisfying an gratifying. Experimenting with new ideas and seeing if they take off. Most of all though, I do not have a boss breathing down my neck!
Working in the microbrewery industry involves meeting with some lovely people who share the same ethos. Most brewers start out as cuckoo brewers and this leads to a very collaborative atmosphere. There is an idea of the common good, it is not cut throat which is the polar opposite to most industries. The food and drink tourism industry in the UK is in its infancy so I feel like one of a number of pioneers trying to get the word out there. It can feel a little daunting and lonely at times, but someone has to stand up there and shout about it.
Where’s your favourite Yorkshire spot?
Kettlewell in Wharfdale. The drive there from Skipton and Grassington is beautiful, then the pubs are for lunch before a good walk in the hills.
Know any good Yorkshire jokes?
Four old retired guys are walking down a street in London. They turn a corner and see a sign that says, “Old Timers Bar – ALL drinks 10p.” They look at each other and then go in, thinking, this is too good to be true.
Graeme, the old bartender says in a voice that carries across the room, ‘Come on in and let me pour one for you! What’ll it be, gentlemen?’
There’s a fully stocked bar, so each of the men orders a martini. In no time the bartender serves up four iced martinis-shaken, not stirred-and says, ‘That’ll be 10p each, please.’
The four guys stare at the bartender for a moment, then at each other. They can’t believe their good luck. They pay the 40p, finish their martinis, and order another round.
Again, four excellent martinis are produced, with the bartender again saying, ‘That’s 40p, please.’ They pay the 40p, but their curiosity gets the better of them. They’ve each had two martinis and haven’t even spent a £1 yet. Finally one of them says, ‘How can you afford to serve martinis as good as these for a 10p a piece?’
‘I’m a retired tailor,’ the bartender says, ‘and I always wanted to own a bar. Last year I hit the Lottery Jackpot for £25 million and decided to open this place. Every drink costs 10p. wine, liquor, beer-it’s all the same.’
‘Wow! That’s some story!’ one of the men says.
As the four of them sip at their martinis, they can’t help noticing seven other people at the end of the bar who don’t have any drinks in front of them and haven’t ordered anything the whole time they’ve been there.
Nodding at the seven at the end of the bar, one of the men asks the bartender, ‘What’s with them?’
The bartender says, ‘They’re retired people from Yorkshire. They’re waiting for Happy Hour when drinks are half-price.’