Champion Beer award for Brass Castle Brewery
Barely 2 years after starting, and at their first entry to a SIBA competition, Brass Castle Brewery scooped the Gold award as Overall Champion at last week’s SIBA North East Beer Competition with Sunshine, a 5.7% IPA
Sunshine took Gold in the Strong Bitters category to, successfully, enter the Champion round. Their Bad Kitty 5.5% vanilla porter also took Bronze in the Speciality Beers category, rounding out an amazing afternoon for this part-time brewery.
“In our first year as a member of SIBA, to be even entered into such a prestigious event was as much recognition as we could have hoped for”, said Phil Saltonstall their head brewer. “To win overall champion beer in a competition with so many truly amazing breweries and beers, including at least 1 GBBF winner, is something that is still sinking in”.
“We met for coffee the following morning, and Phil still had a grin from ear to ear….. As did I!” added his partner Ian Goodall. “At this stage in the brewery’s life, it really can’t get much better than this”.
Phil, formerly a Navy helicopter pilot, is the head brewer. Having honed his long-time home brewing skills with a stint working for Triumph Brewing Company in Princeton while working for the UK mission to the United Nations in New York, on return to the UK Phil started the brewery in August 2011 with a 1 BBL kit in his garage at his home in Pocklington (in Yorkshire’s East Riding). Within 2 months Bad Kitty had won Champion Beer at the York CAMRA beer festival clearly showing that Phil was a very capable brewer.
A chance encounter at that festival hooked Phil up with Ian, and 3 months later the 2 of them were able to expand the brewery by moving to a marvellous 4 BBL copper-based brewhouse on Lord Halifax’ Garrowby estate east of York. With Phil still holding a full time job at the Coastguard control centre at Bridlington, and Ian applying newly found cask washing and racking skills (as well using a bit of business knowledge gained through his previous business career in the global financial sector), over the past 18 months the 2 of them worked part-time to push the brewery forward which, while still only brewing once a week at best, were winning multiple gold and silver awards at CAMRA festivals in such York, Peterborough, Birmingham, Headingly, Huddersfield and Guisborough.
At this year’s York CAMRA Beer Festival, held 17-21 September, the brewery featured 7 widely varying beer types which, including Sunshine and Bad Kitty, included Force 5 which was their first green hopped beer using hops from the new Yorkshire Hops company, and the very well received Wallop – a 7.7% stingo aged for 7 months in a port wood cask (a “partner” sherry cask also produced 25 specially boxed bottles for presentation to international guest speakers at the third Beeronomics conference being hosted by York University the same week).
With strong brand recognition now in place through beers such as Sunshine, Bad Kitty, Burnout, Eclipse and Cliffhanger, Phil and Ian are now confident to take the brewery to the next level. Phil has quit his day job, Ian is figuring out who will walk the dogs, and by year-end they will be “full time” having invested in and installed a 12 BBL brewery in the centre of Malton in North Yorkshire, with brewery tap and visitors centre planned to be opened in mid-2014.
(note: Brass Castle is a vegan brewery and does not use Isinglass finings).