Three cheers for Hull’s independent breweries.
You can find their real ales and craft beers in pubs and restaurants all over the city but do you know where Hull’s independent breweries actually work their magic?
You might be surprised.
While Hull’s largest indie brewery Atom Beers supplies supermarkets, pubs and restaurants all over the UK – and now its very own pub – from its east Hull industrial estate base; one of the smallest, Bricknell Brewery, does everything from growing the hops, to bottling the beer in the owner’s back garden in west Hull.
“In the summer of 2015, I said goodbye to my Mazda MX-5 Mk1 and converted the garage into a brewery,” says Bricknell Brewery owner Richard English.
Home brewing had long been a hobby for the former university lecturer, who decided to swap his sports car for several 200-litre stainless steel vessels imported from Italy.
“I converted them myself into all the things you need for a brewery,” he says. “A hot liquor tank, a mash tun, a boiler, two fermentation tanks and conditioning tanks. It’s the same brewing process as other breweries use, but on a miniscule scale.”
By the end of 2015, Richard had secured his personal alcohol and premises licences, and passed food safety inspections as well as checks from the fire service, the police and HMRC.
His first beer was ready to sell in January 2016 and nearby bar Larkin’s and restaurant Henry Yeast (now Kitchenette No 6) in Newland Avenue became his first customers.
Despite an average brew size of only 140-150 litres, Bricknell Breweries’ hand-crafted, bottle-conditioned beers are in demand in Hull restaurants such as Tapasya, Butler Whites, Woksoever and Alishaan, and in pubs including Chilli Devil’s, Fruit, Station Inn, Hop & Vine and The Brain Jar. So if you’re a fan of Bricknell’s beers, you might be advised to sample one when you can.
“If I fill a furkin, that’s nearly a third of my brew,” says Richard. “I have two brew days a week and then the following week, I’ll have two bottling days. Once a year, I do Green Hop Bitter, made with the fresh hops grown in my back garden in Hull.”
Over on the other side of the city, Atom Beers has expanded so quickly since setting up in 2014 that it has now also taken on a city centre pub, Atom Brewing Co. Corn Exchange on North Church Side next to Hull Minster.
The Corn Exchange building has a 300-year-old history as a drinking establishment. It’s been refurbished by the Atom team, who installed 16 keg lines and four casks, and reopened its doors to the public in June 2018. Craft beer fans will also find up to 100 different cans and bottles from around the world.
Having built a reputation on a blend of “scientific principle and raw enthusiasm”, those beer boffins at Atom launched dozens of beers that are now stocked in bars, restaurants and supermarkets across the UK. You can now visit for brewery tours, business talks, workshops and educational visits that reveal the science behind the brewing process. Atom is even collaborating with the University of Hull and the Science Without Borders programme to develop research into the complex carbohydrate characteristics of beer.
“It was this passion that led to the founding of Atom in the first place,” says Allan Rice, of Atom Beers. “And now that we have public-facing premises that are open seven days a week, we can put on a versatile programme.”
- For more details about Hull’s speciality beers and venues serving them, visit our region’s CAMRA branch website.
- We’ve got more top tips for you in our guide to food and drink in Hull; or you could also try the extremely popular self-guided Hull Ale Trail – just pick up a leaflet from a tourist information centre.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HULL’S INDIE BREWERIES
Atom brewery in east Hull and Atom at the Corn Exchange in Hull’s Old Town: Regular beers include India Pale Ale, Pale Ale, Blonde Ale and Dark Alchemy. Pop into the Corn Exchange to see the extensive range on offer.
Bricknell Brewery in west Hull produces bottle-conditioned ale on a small-scale. Its beers are: Saazy Blonde, Cascade Pale, Anchor Pale Ale, Double Anchor IPA, Slovanka 1873 and Bosphorous 1875 (both named after ships built on Hull’s Victoria Dock), Chocolate Porter, Larkin’s Bitter, Jester Pale Ale, Mieux Abbey Ale and Green Hop Bitter.
Cathead Brewery in High Street is the brewery linked to award-winning Old Town pubs, The Lion & Key, Walters and WM Hawkes. Beers change regularly and include Cascade American Pale Ale, Barmite Porter, Ruby Ale and Hazelnut Stout.
Gene Pool is a father-and-son brewing duo based in Arthur Street, Hull. Beers include a bitter called D.N.Ale, a pale ale called Paleo, Primordial Ooze stout and Helix American IPA.
Yorkshire Brewhouse is in Goulton Street. It brews Reet Amber Ale, Faithful Stout, Ey Up best bitter, Red Robin chocolate stout and YPA Yorkshire Pale Ale in a combination of cask and bottles.
Yorkshire Brewing Company in Humber Street, Hull, brews Yorkshire ales and craft beers in the arty Fruit Market quarter, near the marina. Its beers include Liberty Pale Ale and Mutiny porter and are firm favourites at Hull festivals and events, as well as making guest appearances at real ale pubs around the city.
Vision Brewery in Marfleet Lane, east Hull. At the time of writing, it was the newest microbrewery in the city, producing beers including H-Eye bitter and Dark Argus Old Ale.