Tales Of The Wharfebank @ Mr Foley’s
I’m still very much in the process of learning about beer and it’s great when pubs host events that give you the opportunity to try new beers and breweries, especially when free samples are involved. Dean, manager of Mr Foleys, has been organised a number of Meet The Brewer events in recent months. I went to the Summer Wine event in October last year, but sadly missed the Saltaire event more recently.
On Monday there was another Meet The Brewer event at Mr Foleys with Wharfebank Brewery. Wharfebank is a relatively young, independent brewery based in Pool, just North of Leeds. From what I gather, it essentially started at the Fox & Newt brewpub on Burley Street. The Leeds CAMRA website informs me that the most recent occupant, the Burley Street Brewhouse, is at least the fifth brewery to operate from the premises.*
Anyway, Wharfebank proper started only around a year ago with beers that were developed on the Fox & Newt premises. Two of the key people are MD Martin Kellaway, formerly sales director at Caledonian, and Ian Smith, formerly Head Brewer of Tetleys Cask. With such a grounding in established breweries it’s probably unsurprising that they’ve stated an ambition to fill the hole left by Tetley’s, when Carlsberg closes the Leeds brewery this year and moves production to the Midlands. They’ve certainly done well to establish a market presence in the short time since they were established, as I’ve seen them in quite a few pubs.
We got to try three of Wharfebank’s core range: Slinger’s Gold is a light golden beer made with Cascade, Chinook and Celeia hops, although it’s a more traditional, creamy, toffeeish, English-tasting beer than that might suggest. Camfell Flame is an amber beer, with a slight port aroma and a light, fiery roasted tingle. WISPA had a slightly boozy smell and a traditional Yorkshire premium bitter taste. My favourite of the beers was actually this month’s rugby-themed seasonal special, Carry Me Home, which played to my usual taste for strong, hoppy IPAs.
The lads were good enough to bring some hops and malt to smell, all of which was good and educational. Wharfebank have recently taken over The Fleece in Otley, which has been leased free of tie on cask ales from Punch, and they intend to reinvigorate with a focus on food as well as beer. This would all tend to place them as a competitor to Leeds Brewery: both local breweries playing to the mainstream cask market and opening their own pubs.
After the Wharfebank event we were treated to more free beer, as Dean cracked open a couple of bottles of his homebrew, All Shook Up: a lovely tart, fruity, bitter pale-to-amber American Pale Ale made (I think) with Centennial and Crystal hops. It was also really good to have a chat with Leigh of The Good Stuff and Tom of Reet Good Leeds, both of whose blogs I’ve been reading for ages but hadn’t met until then.
Dean has more events up his sleeve for Mr Foleys in the coming months so keep your eye on his Twitter feed for news.
* If you have any information about the history of the Fox and Newt, please get in touch with Leigh, who hopes to imclude an article on it in the Tavern Tales feature on Culture Vultures. Check out the fascinating article on The Skyrack.