We visit Lancaster Brewery’s new premises and find that big is better
It is popular wisdom that good things come in small packages. But at a time when downsizing and shrinkage are the norm, expansion at the local brewery should be welcomed with open arms (and open lips). It means more beer for a start. Plus all the facilities that go with a purpose-built brewing centre, as well as a boost for the local economy.
Lancaster Brewery’s new premises in the city’s Leisure Park are quite simply stunning. The airy open plan centre is dominated by gleaming stainless steel liquor tanks, coppers and fermenters, the high roof making this feel like a veritable cathedral of brewing. A few steps away are the shop and a spacious but intimate bar and function area that can cater for up to 200 people.
The word that springs to mind when experiencing all this is “respect.” Respect for the product (ale), because it is provided with the very best facilities to guarantee its health and quality, respect for the craftsmen who produce it in this environment, and respect for visitors who can enjoy the fruits of the brewers’ labours in comfort.
Forty CAMRA members were welcomed in the bar by Operations Manager Mark Westall, Richard Mellor, Regional Sales Manager, and Dave Atkinson, Regional Account Manager. Available on hand pump were a range of Lancaster’s well-known beers, plus a new ale — Straw — of which more later.
Mark Westall conducted the group on a lively and informative tour of the brewery. Explaining the background to the move from the original premises on Caton Road, he said it was a matter of necessity. Demand was outstripping supply and even now — with a potential capacity of 150 brewers’ barrels a week — there was difficulty keeping up with demand, and two new fermentation vessels were on order.
A third of all production now went into bottles, with the expanding US market being a prime target. Indeed, at the time of our visit brewery MD Matt Jackson was attending a major US beer festival in order to promote Lancaster products.
But back to Straw, a drink commissioned by owners C2 who wanted a lighter strength blonde beer ideal for quaffing. Head Brewer Will Pammenter duly obliged, and we were able to enjoy the results that night. I can report that the 3.6% Straw is a delightfully hoppy, zesty brew, refreshing and very moreish. There has been a small trial of the new beer in two pubs, where the feedback has been excellent.
I consulted fellow CAMRA members ( a Straw poll, you might say), all of whom praised the ale’s qualities. Indeed a number of them pronounced it “the best of all Lancaster’s beers”.
Looks like you might have to order yet another fermentation vessel, Mark.
Julian Holt, Social Secretary/Press Officer, Lunesdale CAMRA