Sunday, August 09, 2015

875 and all that - Yorkshire Day, Donny style

David Litten, left, with Ian Blaylock, of Doncaster Brewery
The Bloke from Hull writes...
A few years ago I regularly travel on Sundays to visit my Mum in Sheffield. To break the monotony of the return journeys I often visited the Little Plough on West Laithe Gate in Donny, run by friend Nick Griffin.  It was not long before I got chatting to people in the pub about all things especially proper beer. Two of said people turned out to be Ian and Alison Blaylock. We always had interesting chats and at some stage in 2011 like a bolt out of the blue Ian came out with “I am going to start a brewery”. I looked at him in amazement. He was not joking and after 15 years of running his own garage business he had decided that it was “now or never”. Thus in early 2012 he began building Doncaster Brewery from scratch on the same site as his garage on Clay Lane West. As with all things it was a longer job than expected but the advantage was that he knew every component both inside and out enabling him to maintain and repair it himself once built. Appropriately, Ian and Alison both born and bred Doncasterians named the brewery ‘Doncaster Brewery’ and promote all things Doncaster via their beers and in so doing help keep the town firmly in the public eye.
From the outset Ian has made many great beers, winning various awards and in January 2014 he and Alison made a bold move by relocating in an opposite manner to other businesses. They bucked the trend of so many by moving into the town while everyone else seems to be moving to outlying trading estates from central locations. Not only was the brewery being relocated to Young Street but they also decided to create a brewery tap which opened almost immediately and remained a work in progress until the official launch in September. The brewery was moved into the new premises in May, mostly through the front window (not literally of course) due to the size of the vessels. Being a tireless worker it was not too long before Ian was brewing at the new premises and in August brewed MapFest Ale for the city centre festival of the same name.
Just recently Ian and Alison’s efforts were rewarded with recognition from Doncaster and District CAMRA with the “Tap” being voted Doncaster Pub of the Season for Spring 2015. The award was made not just for the quality of their beers but also for the wonderful community hub that the pub has become, it being a focal point and meeting place for a number of local groups including the Green Oak Morris Men, craft and spoken word gatherings, live music and the Phantom Theatre.
And so, with Doncaster taking charge of Yorkshire Day, Ian and Alison decided that Doncaster Brewery would join in the county’s official celebrations by making it a “reet good day” down at the “Tap”. The pub opened up at 10.00 a.m. on Saturday August 1st and provided some traditional fayre in the form of Yorkshire Tea and Yorkshire Loaf, the launch of a new traditional style beer by the appropriately named Henry Cryer, the Town Crier, a fabulous folk sing around afternoon led by Vin, with the reading of the Yorkshire Declaration to close.
Ian had previously mentioned to me about brewing the new beer in early July and offered me the opportunity to interfere, sorry, assist with the brewing of it. I felt most honoured as this was a rare opportunity indeed. Thus on July 9th I turned up nice and early to find that Ian had already begun the brewing process. Mashing in and sparging took place followed by running off to the copper via Ian’s patent snakey Anaconda flexible tubing. The aim was to make a golden bitter at about 4.5% ABV using six malts namely Maris Otter, Vienna, Munich, Wheat, Light Crystal and Dark Crystal. At about midday the first hops (First Gold) were added for bittering. Later Challenger hops were added for bittering and aroma and with just a few minutes of the boil remaining Fuggles were added for aroma. The wort was then cooled and filtered via the hopback and heat exchanger on its way across the brewery via the Anaconda to the fermenting vessel. The transfer took place in 30 minutes and finally the yeast was added. 
During the brewing process there were moments of rest and as well as partaking in mugs of Yorkshire Tea (what else!) we chewed the cud about all things beer, brewing and pubs. I wondered about the colours that Ian had chosen for the casks and quite simply black green and cream are Doncaster’s heraldic colours which he decided upon in a moment of inspiration. He also told me that over the years he had had three crazy ideas. The first was to be his own boss, the second was to start a brewery and the third was to open a brewpub. Well that is all three boxes now well and truly ticked very successfully. Nice one! Or is it three? All that was left for me to now do was to retire gracefully until Yorkshire Day on August 1st when I would discover if I had interfered too much.
And so to the “Day of Judgement”, August 1st – Yorkshire Day 2015. Well, no worries as they say. Ian and Alison had named the beer 875 AD in recognition of the date which affirms Yorkshire’s ancient foundation. Everyone agreed that the new beer, a fine traditional bitter was on good form. It just so happened that a CAMRA Regional Director was present and his comment was “Fab beer in tip top condition”. Well, I cannot say anything to add to that other than well done to the Blaylocks for organizing and producing a great series of events to significantly play their part in the official celebrations in Doncaster for Yorkshire Day 2015.

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