|Courtesy of Empire Brewery (c)|
One of the local breweries that often seems to slip under our radar is Empire of Slaithwaite, may be because it was one of the breweries that we have been so used to seeing around our local pubs that we had just become complacent about it. The brews were always competent but rarely hit the heights that other local breweries did. The brewery is never afraid to experiment though, as the vast number of different beers produced goes to show.
Brewing started in premises behind the Fieldhead Pub at Quarmby around seven years ago where the brewer Russ Beverley was also the landlord, before moving to larger premises in Slaithwaite in April 2006 after giving up the pub to concentrate on the brewery. The plant, a five barrel affair, with lots of personal input from Russ, is sited next to the Huddersfield Narrow canal in the village.
Empire still brew some regular beers, 'Strikes Back' (as in the 'Empire Strikes Back') comes around fairly regularly, as does 'Golden Warrior', but most of the beers we find locally are one-offs, often with a military theme at present. Empire are also responsible for the house beers at the Commercial at Slaithwaite, and Dirty Dicks in Halifax to name but two.
I have always enjoyed their beers but often found them a little astringent for my taste, but the more recent ones I have sampled have been excellent. Whether that be due to a change in the brewing process, new equipment, or different ingredients I cannot say but they are becoming a brewery I will actively search out. They are not difficult to find, often on the bar in 'The Sportsman' in town, or a trip out to the aforementioned 'Commercial' will often provide a special or two as well as the 'Commerciale' and the dark 'Moonraker Mild' which are always on the bar (and reasonably priced as well).
So if for whatever reason you have overlooked Empire beer recently, this is the time to give it a go - I don't think you will be disappointed.