7 Dec 2018

Tipple tours

Here’s where to get the measure of your favourite local brew

What’s your favourite tipple? From breweries to vineyards, cidermakers to gin and whisky distillers, the cups of our region’s drinks producers fair runneth over with award-winning beverages.

Nothing beats a personal taste test however (over-18s only, drink responsibly folks), so here are just a few of the places where you can sample the goods while finding out more about East Yorkshire-produced beer, cider, gin, whisky and wine. Not only that, if the time of year’s right, you can also pick cider apples, help out at a vineyard, tour a brewery or tap room, or step into a distillery.

Here’s our round-up of tours for fans of locally produced beer, cider, gin, whisky and wine.

IN-CIDER KNOWLEDGE

 Get in touch with Colemans Cider Company – East Yorkshire’s only commercial cider producer – if you’d like to arrange a tour of a business that is involved in every step of the production process, from growing and picking, to pressing, making and bottling.

Director Mark Cole says: “We have a passion for connecting people more closely with local food and drink and there’s nothing more local than this.”

Mark launched the company in 2009, after making cider as a hobby from his East Yorkshire Wolds farmhouse home. “I started making cider because I bought a Georgian farmhouse with an orchard in the back garden… and I can’t eat that many apple pies,” he jokes. “I’m from the West Country originally, so there was almost an inevitability about the fact I’d eventually start producing cider.

“We make traditional cider, using raw materials. The only thing we add is champagne yeast and, ultimately, sugar. What you get is completely natural and un-messed around with.”

“What you get is completely natural and un-messed around with.”

 

As well as using apples from Coleman’s own orchard, the company presses apples from all over Yorkshire: supplied by farmers, community orchards in Pickering Road, Hull, and Millennium Orchard in York. If you’re lucky enough to have your own apple tree at home and take your crop along, you can even get free cider.

Apple pressing takes place every autumn, when a typical tour might include a chance to see apple  pressing, the resulting juice being pumped into fermentation tanks and cider fermenting in production facility, as well as opportunities to sample some of the cider from previous years and a find out more about cider-making.

Production tours are currently made by appointment only, although plans are in the pipeline to open the region’s first cider tap room in 2019. Keep your eyes peeled for other events, such as the annual wassail, which in 2018 will be held at Sledmere House, and a music and cider festival.

STILL LEARNING…

 GIN SCHOOL

Hotham’s Gin School in the gorgeous setting of Hepworth’s Arcade, in Hull’s Old Town, offers masterclasses in one of the most popular drinks of the moment. The school and microdistillery opened in summer 2018 and gives you the chance to create your very own personalised blend, from a vast array of botanicals and spices.

Founders Emma Kinton and Simon Pownall state on their website: “We both love living in Hull and are really proud to be part of the fantastic culture here. We’re really excited to bring such a wonderful experience to Hull and to be part of the Old Town scene. We’re seeing a big gin boom at the moment, with discerning drinkers showing interest in smaller producers and hand-crafted spirits … and if you don’t like gin, you can come along and make a vodka instead.”

It costs £125 to book your place at a gin still, where you’ll receive a masterclass in blending your own bottle of gin. An extra £25 allows you to bring a friend along with you. You’ll be greeted with one of Hotham’s own G&Ts, enjoy a tasting lesson and, finally, get to cut, name, bottle and label your gin before taking it home.

Humber Street Gin Distillery also runs occasional masterclass events. Keep an eye on the Fruit Market bar’s social media feeds for details.

 

WHISKY AGOGO

Whisky distilleries are relatively new to Yorkshire, with Spirit of Yorkshire at Hunmanby proudly staking its claim as the county’s first.

Spirit of Yorkshire offers hour-long distillery tours, £10 for adults and £5 for accompanied children. These run seven days per week, at 10am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm from Monday to Saturday, and at 12pm and 2pm on Sundays. This is where you can get a better look at the age-old, hands-on process that is “part science, part patience and part instinct”. A trip here, combined with a visit to the nearby RSPB Bempton Cliffs, makes a good day out, especially as Bempton Cliffs is home to the UK’s largest garnet colony on the UK mainland, the bird that also features on Spirit of Yorkshire’s logo.

Serious whisky enthusiasts meanwhile may appreciate the £250 full-day distilling experience, which runs on the first Monday of every month. This is a hands-on, immersive day of  activities, which will include working with the stills and distilling equipment, and learning about the art of casking, maturation and professional whisky tasting.

David Thompson, co-founder of Spirit of Yorkshire, said: “On our tours (which are Visit England quality assured) visitors can see what we’re doing differently as Yorkshire’s first whisky distillery. We’ve had great reviews, from highly knowledgeable whisky lovers, to those discovering whisky for the first time.”

An on-site café, The Pot Still Coffee Shop, provides non-alcoholic drinks, snacks and afternoon teas, while live music events also take place regularly throughout the year.

 

TUESDAY CHASERS

If you’ve got a Tuesday afternoon free, you can take a behind-the-scenes tour of Wold Top Brewery, from 2pm, closely followed by a whirl around the Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery. The sister companies team up every Tuesday, and it’s a very good idea to pre-book taxis, or to designate a driver to take you from the beer tasting that’s included in the price of the Wold Top Brewery Tour, to the Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery tour.

The joint tours cost £18 for adults and £9 for children. Book online, or by calling 01723 891758.

 

HOPPY DAYS

Our region has a fantastic array of independent breweries, and many of the larger ones offer tours and days out by arrangement.

As mentioned above, Wold Top Brewery tours take place every Tuesday from 2pm. Wold Top’s beers are made from barley grown on the owners’ farm and malted just a few miles away in Bridlington, using chalk-filtered water from the farm’s own borehole. So, if it’s Yorkshire provenance you’re after, this is the place to visit. Wold Top also runs regular events, including open weekends in June, Moonbeams Music Festival in July (you’ll have to plan ahead for this one, it’s so popular that 2019’s festival is already sold out) and the Big Sky Beer Festival in October. The brewery shop is open Monday to Friday, from 9am to 4.30pm.

Anne Duerden, of the brewery’s events company Muddy Souls Events, said: “The brewery tours are a great opportunity for visitors to see how we make our award-winning beer from barley that we grow on the farm and water from the farm’s own borehole.”

Tours cost £10, including two half pints. Children’s tickets cost £5, to include a soft drink. Booking is essential, call 01723 892222.

At Atom Beers to the east of Hull city centre, brewing has been honed to an exact science, which the team is very happy to demonstrate to visitors. Weekly tours run for groups of six or more, at £12 per person. Tours last two hours and include the chance to learn about the brewing process, an invitation to eat some malt, smell some hops and taste the beer (coffee or soft drinks for the designated driver). If you’re looking for a more in-depth lesson in the art of brewing beer, an eight-week intensive Beer School is available.

Alternatively, if you want to visit an even larger brewery, or are planning to visit with a large group, set two hours aside to explore the equally impressive set-up – and the ale – at Old Mill Brewery at Snaith, near Goole. Old Mill is also independent and family-run from, as the name suggests, an 18th-century former mill that now has a high-spec, modern brewing plant attached. Tours of Old Mill Brewery take place on weekday evenings and some Saturday afternoons. Advance booking is essential, and the tours are made up of a half-hour tour and a one-and-a-half hour sampling experience in the brewery’s hospitality suite and tap room.

 

AND FINALLY… HEARD THIS ON THE GRAPEVINE?

Ok, so East Yorkshire doesn’t yet rank up there with the great wine-growing regions of the world, but wine-lovers in the know are stocking up on the award-winning vino that’s produced at Laurel Vines, in Aike. There are no behind-the-scenes tours as such  but, put this in your diaries… each year, volunteers are invited to help pick the annual grape harvest in late September/early October. You’ll be treated to a delicious breakfast and lunch with wine for your efforts, so it doubles as a great way to sample the produce.

  • If you’d like to recommend a tour that’s not mentioned here, please get in touch, we’d love to hear about it. Comment on this story, or talk to us via social media.

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