Q: Why the name North Brewing Co?
A: North Brewing was founded by John Gyngell and Christian Townsley (the brains behind North Bar in Leeds) in 2015.
North Bar has been introducing the drinkers of Leeds to a range of international beers since it opened in 1997, and is often referred to as ‘the first craft beer bar in Britain’.
Whilst they wanted the brewery to have its own separate identity, their passion for beer started at North Bar and they wanted there to be a link between the two. It also makes sense geographically!
Q: How long have you/the brewery been making beer for?
A: [Seb, Head Brewer] I started making beer as a self-taught homebrewer. I read a lot, and made some beers that worked, and some beers that didn’t work. I was working as a music teacher at a school in Leeds at the time and in 2013 decided to start cuckoo brewing. I was brewing beer for my brewery, Golden Owl, at weekends and selling my beer locally in Leeds. John and Christian were stocking Golden Owl at North Bar and the conversation about starting the brewery started from there.
After initial conversations about working together, we decided that the next logical step would be for me to brew them a beer. They asked for an IPA, inspired by one of their favourite beers – Magic Rock’s Cannonball. A few weeks later we sat down in North Bar with two unlabelled bottles of beer – one was Magic Rock’s Cannonball and one was the beer that came to be known as Transmission. John was full of cold, and I was full of nerves (!) so it was down to Christian to try the beer. Whilst Transmission has changed and developed over the years as we’ve had access to better equipment and quality control, he saw the potential in that first bottle and our flagship beer was born!
Q: What got you into brewing?
A: Before brewing (and before teaching) I worked as a chef so have always been passionate about experimenting with flavours and ingredients. Primarily, I wanted to brew beers that I would want to drink, and to brew beers with bold flavours and a focus on drinkability.
Q: When you’re not brewing what are your hobbies?
A: Outside of the brewery a lot of my time is taken up by my three children! When I sneak some free time I cook, or will head out on a walk (sometimes via my local) with my dog.
Q: What’s your favourite style of beer?
A: I’ve just been to Berlin to brew a couple of collabs with German breweries and drank some great lagers while I was there which is one of my favourite beer styles. It was great being able to get bottles of Augustiner for a couple of euros and drink them outside in the sunshine!
I also have really enjoyed the development of the NEIPA style in recent years. I’m a fan of the softer profile of these beers, and think that some of North’s most successful beers have been hazy IPAs.
Q: If you could only have one of your brews for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? (I know it’s like picking a favourite child!)
A: This is a tough one! But I think it would have to be Transmission. It’s our flagship IPA, which I have been working on since the conception of North Brewing. It started as a more West Coast style IPA and has moved more towards the softer New England style. When brewing Transmission I’m looking for continuous improvement and feel like it’s currently tasting great.
Q: You are in a supermarket, in the Beer aisle of course, what would you buy? (your wonderful beer isn’t on sale unfortunately!)
A: My first instinct would be to look for a German lager – something like Warsteiner. Alternatively I would look for something like Fullers’ ESB or Porter. However, if I saw there was a bottle of something Belgian like Duvel on the shelves I might treat myself!
Q: What new flavour combination would you love to try/what new hops would you like to work with?
A: I’m looking to play around with combining both sweet and sour flavours, experimenting with using these alongside fruits and hops. We’re about to release a Sour DDH Pale which is a style that I’ve wanted to try for ages. And we’re planning on releasing more Triple Fruited Gose in the coming months.
In terms of new hops? There’s a hop called BRU 1 that I’ve been reading about recently. It’s an experimental variety which is meant to produce tropical fruit flavours. Keep your eye out for that appearing in a North beer soon (if I can track some down!)
Q: What brewery you would like to collaborate with and why?
A: I’ve been really lucky to have collaborated with an impressive list of breweries since North started in 2015. I’ve worked with some people who’s beers I’d been drinking for years, and the experience has been invaluable in terms of learning about brewing, logistics, and sharing beers with some great people.
If I could brew with anyone in the world I think it would be Trillium – I want to learn ALL their secrets!
For even more about North Brewing Co see the following;
Photography credit to Chloe Chapman
Thanks to Seb and Sarah from North Brewing Co for taking part! It was great to find out more about your beer journey. All the best with your future beers and collaborations.