Yorkshire’s awash with great breweries and you can check out their magical work on one of these tours.
Real ale and Yorkshire are a match made in heaven, with breweries strewn across the entire county. But while you may be used to seeing their wares in pubs and bars all over the world, that shouldn’t stop you from getting a bit closer to the action. These 12 breweries are happy to let you go behind the scenes to see how they make their brews, with a few tasty treats along the way.
Theakston’s is the original Masham brewery and it’s one of the best regarded in the UK. The brewery opened in 1827 and it’s packed full of history, which you can discover on their tours for just £8.50. Your ticket includes a complimentary pint, two halves or three thirds, but you won’t get to try their brews, which include Old Pecular, Best Bitter and Theakston IPA, until you’ve had a bit of an education. You’ll follow the entire brewing process, from blending ingredients right through to filling the casks, asking as many questions as you like along the way, before heading to the brewery tap for a pint or two.
Theakston’s Brewery Visitor Centre, Masham, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 4YD.
Black Sheep Brewery
Masham is home to not one, but two breweries and it’s a family affair. Paul Theakston started Black Sheep after an acrimonious takeover of Theakston’s in the mid-1980s. Take a trip out to the brewery where you can learn all about its history – you’ll go on a one-hour tour of the site for £9.95. There you’ll see how they select the ingredients and make the beer, as well as learning why they still use Yorkshire Square Fermenting Vessels, which were developed two centuries ago. Along the way, you’ll get three ‘third’ beer tokens to use in their renowned brewery tap – sup on everything from Best Bitter and Golden Sheep to one-off brews you won’t find anywhere else.
Black Sheep Brewery, Wellgarth House, Crosshills, Wellgarth Court, Masham, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 4EN.
Since it brewed its first beer back in 2006, Saltaire Brewery has become one of the most popular independent real ale breweries in the UK – and you can see how they do it on one of their brewery tours. You’ll get a guided walk around their £1.3 million complex, which opened in 2017 and is home to a semi-automated 40-barrel brew kit. After your tour, you’ll try a tasting flight of their regular beers like Cascade Pale and Saltaire Blonde. You can book onto one of two tours, which take place every Saturday afternoon for £12.
Saltaire Brewery, Dockfield Road, Shipley, West Yorkshire, BD17 7AR.
You won’t just get a brewery tour when you visit Quirky Ales – the Garforth microbrewery also has a Brew School, where you can create your own beer with their brewers Aaron and Simon. You’ll kick things off with a cuppa and a bacon sarnie, then set off on a tour of the brewery. You’ll learn about the history of beer and the ingredients they use, then get hands-on making your own recipe ale in their 50-litre Braumeister kit. You’ll get up to four 500ml bottles to take home, as well as a glass and a free pint in their tap room before you go. These sessions take place on the second Saturday of the month and cost £60.
Quirky Ales, Units 3 & 4, Ash Lane, Garforth, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS25 2HG.
Brew York was set up in 2016 by two friends who share a love of great beer. They poured their passion into a 20 hectolitre brewhouse, which you can see in action on their hour-long weekend tours. You’ll find out how they’ve mastered the perfect brew and get an inside look at the process from start to finish. It costs £10 per person and includes four thirds of beer to enjoy in their picturesque riverside taproom – you can sample anything from the Cereal Killer IPA to the Goose Willis Sour, the Galagan Pale and the Imperial Tonkoko Stout.
Brew York Craft Brewery & Tap Room, Unit 6, Enterprise Complex, Walmgate, York, North Yorkshire, YO1 9TT.
Wharfdale Brewery has an incredible story – it’s a joint venture between 16 friends who are all linked to the Ilkley area and it’s become a huge success, providing drinkers with a taste of proper Yorkshire Dales ale. Their tours are incredibly popular – you’ll start with a welcome chat and beer sampling before meeting their brewers and heading off on an informal walk around the brewery. While you’re there, you’ll see all the equipment, learn about the processes and enjoy a Q&A session, before you finish with two complimentary pints from their Resurrection range and a Lishman’s sausage roll, pie or pasty. The tour costs £10 per person.
Wharfedale Brewery, 16 Church Street, Ilkley, West Yorkshire, LS29 9DS.
Brewtown Brewery Tours
You can cover all the bases with Brewtown. Unlike the others, this isn’t a brewery – it’s an independent tour that will take you to three breweries in one day and you can do it in either York or Leeds. In Leeds, you can see the inner workings of North Brewing Co, Northern Monk and Quirky Ales followed by beer tastings on Saturday afternoon. In York, however, it’s a weekday tour and there are three different options for you to choose – the North West route will take you to Rudgate, Yorkshire Heart and Ainsty Ales, on the South East route you’ll visit Brew York, Half Moon and Hop Studio, or you can tour Bad Seed, Brass Castle and Breworks on the Malton route. Each tour costs £70 and includes at least three beer samples at each brewery.
Brewtown Brewery Tours, 323 Clifford House, 7-9 Clifford Street, York, North Yorkshire, YO1 9RA.
Northern Monk Brew Co.
How would you like to see how Northern Monk Brew Co. make their award-winning beers with a behind the scenes tour of the brewery? You can sup three different samples while you learn about the brewing process. But now you’ve got a choice to make – will you call it a day or do their tutored beer tasting? If you go with the latter, you’ll be treated to five thirds of beer as they teach you to identify the unique flavours in each brew and give you a brief history on beer. A brewery tour is £10 and the tutored tasting is £25.
Northern Monk Brew Co, The Old Flax Store, Marshalls Mill, Marshall Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 9YJ.
Brass Castle Brewery
Brass Castle Brewery tours aren’t like the others. The 12-barrel brewery is right in the heart of Malton and it produces 200 casks of beer every week, including the likes of Bad Kitty and Helles Lager. The vegan-friendly brewery isn’t as big as some, but it’s as welcoming as they come. The brewery is always open to visitors and it has a tap room that’s open from Tuesday to Sunday. If you pop in, you’ll get a free informal tour of the site, which has a specialist Crowler machine, and you’ll also get the lowdown about their beers – couple it with a visit to their brewery tap and you’re in for a treat.
Brass Castle Brewery, 10A Yorkersgate, Malton, North Yorkshire, YO17 7AB.
Kelham Island Brewery
Kelham Island Brewery is Sheffield’s oldest independent brewery, and you can get an up-close look at its inner workings on their mammoth 3 hour tour, complete with an expert guide, tasty food and, of course, plenty of beer. You’ll start in the Loft Bar, where you’ll learn about how they select the ingredients for their brews. After that, you’ll get to see the magic happen in the brewery itself, with lots of fun facts and samples of their speciality Rider beers thrown in. It ends back at the Loft Bar with more beer and a supper of pie & peas. You can book onto one of their Friday or Saturday tours for £25.
Kelham Island Brewery, 23 Alma Street, Sheffield, West Yorkshire, S3 8SA.
The North Yorkshire village of Cropton is rich in brewing tradition, with evidence of it stretching back as far as 1613. Today, however, it’s all down to the folk at The New Inn. Just behind the house is farmland on which you’ll find not one, but two growing breweries. Cropton and The Great Yorkshire Brewery have produced the likes of Yorkshire Red Lager, Top of the Hops and Hadley’s Gold. You can see just how they go about it with tours from Tuesday to Saturday between 11am and 2pm. You’ll get to see the brewery in action and learn about the history of the site, before grabbing a pint to enjoy there or a bottle to take home – and all for £7.50 per person.
The Great Yorkshire Brewery, Main Street, Cropton, North Yorkshire, YO18 8HH.
North Brewing Co.
One of Leeds’ best breweries welcomes beer lovers inside their Sheepscar home to see how they do it. From 7pm every Friday and 3pm every Saturday, you’ll get a tour around the brewery, giving you a chance to learn about the ingredients that go into their beers and how they turn them into your favourite brews. Afterwards, it’s a short walk across the room to the brewery tap where you’ll get to try three thirds of the freshest beers you’ll ever come across – all for £10.
North Brewing Co., Unit 6, Taverners Walk Industrial Estate, Sheepscar Grove, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS7 1AH.Cover image copyright Tom Joy.