Yorkie bars

Richard Croasdale catches up with Brew York


Brew York founders Lee Grabham and Wayne Smith set out from day one to build something their hometown community would be proud of. In York though, to say the standard for pride is high would be a heinous understatement. Steeped in fascinating heritage, entertainment, culture and breath-taking architecture, York is one of the UK’s most striking cities. As well as a world famous Minster, the National Railway Museum and the unforgettable Jorvik Viking centre, the city also famously boasts 365 pubs – one for every day of the year.

This embarrassment of riches is also fertile ground for creative brewers though, as Lee explains: “From the start, we’ve leaned into York’s history and landmarks in developing the names and designs of our beers. Viking DNA, our smoked porter, is a reference to York’s Viking heritage. It was one of the first beers we brewed and is one we still brew today. Recently we added ‘Coney’ to our Signature product range, named as a nod to Coney Street in York city centre. Black Bess is our nitro stout, named after highwayman Dick Turpin’s horse, which he was said to have ridden from London to York.”

The local community has had a huge influence on Brew York over the years, perhaps most directly through its 2018 crowdfunder, launched to allow the brewery to create York’s biggest craft beer venue, adding an ambitious Bavarian-style beer hall and street food kitchen to its existing taproom site on Walmgate.

“We had no idea how it would go,” recalls Lee. “We needed to raise £40,000, and in 21 days 631 people had raised £56,380; we were blown away by the support we received... We are incredibly proud to be able to say that our community helped us shape our flagship venue where we now pour our newest and freshest beer, for them.”

More recently, the brewery opened its fourth venue at its main production site in Osbaldwick, just on the city outskirts. It’s only been open 18 months, but has already hosted sell-out gigs, birthday celebrations and a wedding. Other significant updates include the completion of a year-long brand refresh, the introduction of five new ranges, and adding three completely new beers. 

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