York Brewery
Born within the city walls
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YORK BREWERY - ABOUT US

OUR STORY

 
Micklegate Bar from outside the city walls.

Micklegate Bar from outside the city walls.

Since opening our doors in May 1996, all at York Brewery have poured their heart and soul into brewing excellent, handcrafted ales enjoyed by drinkers far and wide.

Our birth marked a return to brewing inside the city walls of York after a 40-year absence. The original site of the brewery, our home for just over 23 years, was located just inside the city walls on Toft Green; a mere stone's throw from the historic royal entrance to the city, Micklegate Bar.

The site housed a 20-barrel brew plant, with six traditional open-top fermenters and five conditioning tanks. A gallery constructed above the brewhouse offered visitors a fantastic viewing platform while on one of our popular guided brewery tours.

The frontage of the brewery on Toft Green was relatively modern, with the rear significantly older. Built in the late 16th Century, the section overlooking Micklegate was the birthplace of Joseph Hansom (1803-82), the inventor of the Hansom Cab. He probably served as an apprentice joiner in his grandfather's workshop in the former stables that housed our conditioning and racking equipment. A provisions merchant then briefly owned the building until 1897 when furniture company Whitby Oliver took residence. Their logo can still be seen on the side of the top floor offices above Brigantes pub on Micklegate.

In December 2008 York Brewery was purchased by Mitchells of Lancaster, a 150-year-old family-run pub company who themselves brewed until 1999. A rebrand followed, and York Brewery was expanded to include a new distribution warehouse to allow the servicing of the large pub estate. Unfortunately, harsh trading conditions within the industry soon meant that a large portion of the Mitchells pub estate was sold off no longer warranting a separate warehouse. After ten years under their ownership, in December 2018 Mitchells of Lancaster, and therefore York Brewery, went into administration.

An example of a Hansom Cab.   Photo by Andrew Dunn - English Wikipedia

An example of a Hansom Cab.

Photo by Andrew Dunn - English Wikipedia

Joseph Hansom (1803-82), architect & inventor of the Hansom Cab.

Joseph Hansom (1803-82), architect & inventor of the Hansom Cab.

Taken during the Queen’s 1971 visit, this photo show people watching on out of the windows of what would become our offices.

Taken during the Queen’s 1971 visit, this photo show people watching on out of the windows of what would become our offices.

Thankfully that wasn't the end of our story, with Black Sheep Brewery stepping in to purchase the brewery and four linked pubs as part of their expansion into retail. Since this acquisition, sales of York Brewery beers have grown steadily, especially the already best-selling Guzzler and perennial favourite Yorkshire Terrier.

 

Andy Slee (Chairman) & Managing Director (Rob Theakston) discuss the acquisition of York Brewery in December 2018.

 

Unfortunately, despite best efforts to ensure that the lease agreement for the brewery was successfully renegotiated, little was heard from the landlord.  That was until June 2019, when a notice was received alerting of their intent to increase rent by a significant amount alongside the inclusion of considerable repair liability. Sadly, this was not viable for the business, so we were left no alternative but to vacate our home on Toft Green.

York Head Brewer Nick Webster performs checks on a batch of beer brewed at Toft Green.

York Head Brewer Nick Webster performs checks on a batch of beer brewed at Toft Green.

While we search for our new forever home in the city, we've had to relocate production temporarily. Head brewer Nick Webster will be overseeing the brewing of York Brewery beer at the Black Sheep Brewery. Toft green may be gone, but the beer lives strong. We'll be back in York as soon as possible.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank every single one of you for your support over the years and say thanks in advance for your continued support through this period of our history.

 

To be continued…