Something good brewing for real ale reputation

The Mayor Phil Taylor pulling the First Pint Simon Miles looking on
The Mayor Phil Taylor pulling the First Pint Simon Miles looking on

A NEW micro brewery on the outskirts of Morpeth is aiming to restore the area’s real ale reputation.

Simon and Dawn Miles have realised their long-term ambition after selling their shares in a small specialist plant hire firm and have had early success with their first two drinks.

And they hope that Brew Star will go from strength to strength, with Morpeth Mayor Phil Taylor getting the chance to sample their produce at an official opening event on Saturday.

The couple are operating it from the Whitehouse Farm Centre site.

Key to their plans is attracting younger drinkers in their 20s and 30s who are willing to give real ale a try, which is growing rapidly according to research by campaign group CAMRA.

Their first beer, Blonde Star, has a smooth flavour with hints of citrus and was released with lager drinkers in mind.

The other one, available at pubs and bars such as the Ridley Arms in Stannington and the Joiners Arms in Morpeth, is Sinistar, a rich, full bodied dark ale with hints of caramel.

Mr Miles said: “We’ve both had a keen interest in brewing since we were in our 20s and when the opportunity came up, our market research found that there was a gap in Morpeth for a craft brewery.

“We produce low volume, but high quality, which is the way the craft brewery industry should be, and we’re taking a modern approach to promoting real ale.

“We’re targeting the younger generation of lager drinkers who don’t yet realise how good beer tastes. Blonde Star is the same colour as a typical lager, but it has much more flavour, and we’re also producing our own lager which should be ready in mid to late June.

“There has been some really good feedback so far, including at real ale festivals across the North East, and we already have 65 to 70 outlets for the two beers.

“We’re also going to do some one-off experimental or wacky ales that will be available for a short period of time to cater for people with specific tastes.

“The location for the brewery had to be somewhere we could attract tourists so we were delighted to get the unit at Whitehouse Farm Centre.

“It was the ideal size to convert into a micro brewery and we’ve managed to put in a small bar and lounge as well.”

The Head Brewer is John Ormsby, who has worked in the industry for more than 25 years. It is supplying the revamped Chambers Bar in Bridge Street, which itself is looking to attract real ale drinkers.

The Miles’ interest in the history of real ale was sparked when Mr Miles found a bottle from the former George Young brewery at Chantry Wells in Morpeth, which dates back to the late 1800s, when digging in the garden at their Blyth home in the 1980s.

People can find out about the history of this and other local drinks makers on a tour of Brew Star.

“Our tours are educational for all ages and we have museum-style boards which explain how beer is made and the history of breweries that once operated in Morpeth,” said Mr Miles.

“Some of the information has been kindly provided by local historian Alan Davison.

“We also run a ‘learn to homebrew’ day course which covers all aspects of the process.

“People don’t need to bring anything with them as we provide everything needed to brew.”

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