Q: Why the name Northern Brews?
A: It tells you what we’re about. We sell and celebrate great Northern Brews. Plus I like the word ‘Northern’, it’s home for me. A comforting word.
Q: What beers can I get from you?
A: We offer monthly, bi-monthly and tri-monthly subscriptions, as well as one-off boxes subject to availability. We offer a seasonal box each month, which includes some darker beers in the winter months. We also offer a box each month that is light and hoppy.
Q: How long have you/the brewery been creating beer boxes for?
A: We’re the new kids on the block. It took the best part of a year to take it from an idea to where we are now, plus many, many tough years of tasting craft beer.
Q: What was the idea behind the company?
A: I used to be a subscription customer and felt that there was a clear gap in the market for a club which really focused on seasonal and regional beer. Where there was a real focus on cities and counties and their breweries. All too often I felt that I was receive beer that was simply filling a box, with no real thought. Last Christmas, for example, I received a box with loads of Californian Pale Ales in a mixed case. It should have had some top Northern Stouts in. We’re spoilt in the North (of England) with great breweries, I want to help shine an even bigger light on the amazing beer made by them, and in so doing, help beer lovers discover new breweries and beers to love.
Q: Outside of beer life, what are your hobbies?
A: I love nature, so walking (particularly in the Peak District) and gardening are big. I get involved in community work wherever possible. Our local poppy path project is a good example. It’s a pathway at the back of our local park, that is now maintained by local volunteers. I’ve got a patch that I plant on and maintain with my wife and my kids.
Q: Any experience of home brewing or brewing on a large level?
A: Absolutely. I think to really understand beer, and the craft then you need to experience making it. Me and a pal from my school days brewed for a few years. We started by going for hop bombs but realised that our best beers came when we celebrated one single hop at a time. It helped us better understand the profile of each hop in respects of its aroma and flavour. I’m lucky enough to know a couple of professional brewers who gave me advice along the way, and even threw me some amazing centennial hops on one occasion. I even had a neighbour who worked in the labs at one of the biggest brewers in the North. He’d take each of our brews for testing and provide us with a comprehensive statistical analysis of each of our brews! I’ve really enjoyed brewing but it also made me aware that without top kit, which costs money, there are so many variables that are difficult to control and guarantee the quality of the beer that you make, which can be frustrating. I’ll stick to selling and drinking the fantastic beer made by our top breweries for now!
Q: What’s your favourite style of beer and if you can single one out, what’s your favourite beer?
A: At Northern Brews we state that signing up with us is a “journey into beer”. The journey takes in different parts of the North, and different styles of beer. I’ve loved my own personal beer drinking journey over the years i.e. starting on Pales and IPAs, then embracing stouts and porters, before in more recent times enjoying the tartness of a good sour or gose beer.
In terms of favourites, that’s a tough call. It’s like being asked for a favourite song. It’s impossible to call. I’ll be a touch greedy if I may and single out a few beers that I’ve loved on my journey. On the Pale side Gamma Ray (Beavertown) and Jaipur (Thornbridge) have been ever present and iconic beers, along with Track’s Sonoma in more recent years. In the past few weeks Celestial Motion by Northern Monk has blown me away. Stout wise, Magic Rock’s Bearded Lady Dessert Editions have been unbelievable, particularly the Bourbon Barrel-aged with Chocolate Vanilla & Cinnamon. This Christmas I loved Northern Monk’s collaboration with Evil Twin, “Even More Death”. The beers better than the name.
Q: What would go into your dream beer box?
A: I guess I’ve covered a lot of those in my previous answer. Throw in some DIPAs and IPAs from Cloudwater, Whiplash & Wylam, Box Social Sours, Lough Gill Stouts. Yum!!!!
Q: Which breweries could I hope to see in one of your boxes?
A: It all depends on which area we are visiting that month. That’s the beauty of what we’re doing, you get to discover new breweries and beers each month. Last month we featured Bollington, Chapter, Mobberley and Red Willow (Our Cheshire Box). Coming soon in our Liverpool & North Wales box are Glen Affric, Handyman, Neptune and Loka Polly. We’ll be off to Leeds, West Yorkshire, the Lakes, Newcastle, Glasgow amongst many other areas in the months ahead.
Q: What breweries would you like to feature in future boxes?
A: Northern Monk, North Brewing Co, Ridgeside as we’re off to Leeds shortly on our journey into beer!
Q: Where do you see the business in 5 years?
A: That’s hard to know. We’re so focused on making the next 12 months a success and making our mark in a highly competitive market. I’m still teaching to pay the bills but hope that I’ll be able to split my career between Northern Brews and teaching in the future. I’m really passionate about what we’re doing and hope that in 5 years we’re right in there with a super happy, and sizeable, set of customers.
Q: What makes Northern Brews different?
A: Northern Brews is Dan & Steve, two school mates who have known each other for over 30 years.
We get the brewers to match a song from their region to each beer. We then curate this onto a Spotify playlist for our club members. Cloudwater matched Whippin Piccadilly by Gomez to their DIPA and Stephen Fretwell – Run to their Vienna Lager. My personal favourite was Mouse Outfit – I Wonder, matched by Runaway to their DIPA. I’d never heard it before, top tune. We love the idea of mates coming together beer tasting and kicking back to some top tunes!
Finally, we’re embracing tryanuary by offering up a code TRY30 for new customers to get 30% off their first subscription box. Nice.
Thanks to the Northern Brews team for their thoughts on beer and more information on their beer boxes. The Spotify link is awesome and I’m looking forward to seeing this in action when I pick up my first box! Fore more information, see the following