Yesterday morning we attended the official opening of WharfeBank Brewery. Despite only being a recent addition to Yorkshire’s brewing fraternity they’re causing a ripple already with their full-bodied ruby beer CamFell Flame winning Beer of the Festival at the Leeds Beer Festival this year.
We timed our arrival perfectly to coincide with that morning’s mashing in, which unleashed great malt-scented clouds of steam up into the rafters; no matter how many times you smell it, it always takes me by surprise at how wonderfully comforting it all is. Tony Jenkins, working tirelessly throughout the day, took us through the process, the equipment itself, and the genesis of their core beers.
WharfeBank currently brew three core ales: Tether Blond (4.1%abv), Slingers Gold (3.9%abv) and the aforementioned CamFell Flame (4.4%abv). Seeing the hops piled high in the cold storeroom, I remark that there seems to be a lean towards high-alpha hops (which I’m happy to see), and Tony concedes that the recipes have been formulated to simply give new twists on traditional tastes. This seems like simplicity itself, but as an ethos it’s a good one.
Taste-wise, the beers are certainly very good. CamFell remains my personal favourite of the stable, full of gently roasted flavours and an ever-so-subtle coffee aftertaste. It’s a surprisingly light beer for one with such a deep, rounded flavour, and is dangerously sessionable. Sessionable seems to be a pre-requisite, as Tether Blond is refreshing; super-pale and loaded with fragrant citrus notes. Slingers Gold continues that citrusy freshness on the nose but is smoother and fuller in the body.
WharfeBank is the baby of Martin Kellaway, an ex-cricketer who dived into the world of brewing whilst working with Caledonian and Fuller’s. He also owned the Fox & Newt Brewpub for a while as a tenant landlord and began crafting beers on their on-site kit. After gaining some investment through local grants and supporters, WharfeBank was born.
He should be proud; the brewery itself is all excitingly shiny and new, and the staff were only too-happy-to-help. The opening itself was a success; plenty of people there, some wonderful locally-sourced barbecue to go with the beer, and I’m sure that when Lib Dem MP and all-round-good guy Greg Mulholland formally declared WharfeBank open, the team breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Leeds-wise ,Wharfebank’s beers are currently available at The Grove, and will be available in Wetherspoon’s shortly. If you are a pub who wants to get WharfBank’s wares on the bar, then jump over to their website (linky above) for details. Special thanks to Tony Jenkins and Dhiraj Pujari.