Food & Drink

Ossett Brewery - How It All Began

Northern Living - Ossett Brewery - How It All BeganThe story of the Ossett Brewery starts with our Chairman and founder Bob Lawson. A brewer for almost 50 years, Bob began his career working for Beverley Bros. Brewery in Wakefield, from there he moved on to Matthew Brown’s in Blackburn and then in 1969 on to Joshua Tetley & Son in Leeds. Bob stayed at Joshua Tetley for the next 25 years, gaining experience in a variety of brewing roles. After leaving Joshua Tetley his next role was at Kelham Island Brewery in Sheffield, one of the first independent microbreweries that pushed the growth of real ale. After all this time spent brewing beer for other people, Bob and a partner decided to start their own real ale revolution and in 1997 built a small micro brewery at the back of the Brewers Pride public house in Ossett. The first beer aptly named ‘Bobby Dazzler’ was brewed in August 1998 and was an instant success. Brewing was carried out on a 5-barrel brew length plant (about 1,440 pints per brew) and for several months all of the beer produced was sold through the Brewers Pride pub. ‘We never thought it would take off as quickly as it did, but very soon there was a demand to brew more and more. Many other pubs in the area wanted supplies and our range of beers began to grow as sales increased’ – Bob Lawson

As the beers were sold further afield, Ossett Brewery began to win awards at festivals up and down the country with Silver King proving to be our flagship beer. As the reputation of the business grew so did its customer base.  Within three years further expansion took place raising its brewing capacity to 40 barrels per week. The brewery was given a further boost when Excelsior was voted National Champion Beer of Britain at the prestigious Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) Beer Awards in 2003.

With the departure of his partner early in 2001, Bob became sole owner of the Ossett Brewing Co. In late 2002 Bob’s son Jamie who was a successful investment banker in Japan decided on a career change and joined Bob, turning Ossett Brewery into a proper family business. After a short time working in the brewery, Jamie decided to take on a new challenge and set about trying to find suitable pubs as tied houses for Ossett beers. The Black Bull in Liversedge having been a 'local' for over 300 years was the first pub selected to undergo the Ossett Brewery transformation, after a refurbishment it reopened in May 2003. The Black Bull was a huge success, soon to become the the first of many. Jamie then set about finding further sites to develop and Ossett Brewery Pub Company has since grown rapidly.  Our pub estate is currently made up of 23 sites all in the Yorkshire region. In addition to our community pubs we also have our five live music venues - The Hop's, three restaurants and three microbreweries. The pub estate also includes three brew-pubs; The Riverhead Brewery Tap in Marsden, Fernandes Brewery Tap in Wakefield and the Rat Brewery based at the Rat & Ratchet in Huddersfield. The many hand-crafted beers brewed at these three sites are all distinctly different to those brewed in Ossett. Being much smaller brewing plants, we can experiment with our recipes and offer our drinkers a variety of flavours from regular brews to one-off specials.

Northern Living - Ossett Brewery - How It All BeganThe rapid expansion over the last 10 years has been focused around creating a quality product time after time. All Ossett Brewery Pubs have been wonderfully refurbished to provide a welcoming atmosphere and serve a wide range of cask ales, premium lagers and bottled beers at a consistently high standard. At our restaurant sites we strive to serve high quality food, using fresh seasonal produce. The Hop’s are a unique concept which started in late 2008 as an amalgamation between Jamie Lawson director of Ossett Brewery, Mike Heaton drummer from Yorkshire Indie band Embrace and ex-Virgin Japan MD Mike Inman. With over 15 years brewing experience and over 35 years knowledge of the music industry The Hop concept was born. The combination of a traditional real ale house with an intimate atmosphere for live music and contemporary décor has gained a following from real ale and music fans alike. We now had Hop venues in Wakefield, Leeds, Sheffield, Saltaire & York.

As our pub company expanded and Ossett Brewery continued to grow in popularity the demand for our beer was higher than ever. By 2004 the original brewhouse was producing almost 40 barrels a week and was operating at a level way beyond its initial design specification. Bob made the decision to look for bigger premises to allow the company to expand. Amazingly a suitable property less than 80 metres away was available and so, late in 2004 work began on building a new brewery.  The first beers were brewed on the new site in April 2005 and then finally in August all production moved to the new brewery. This is largely the same plant we brew on today although a steady programme of investment has helped the brewery meet increased demand for our meticulously crafted beers. In particular a new 2,500 square foot cold store was added in 2008, automated cask washing and filling in 2013 and additional fermenting capacity in June 2014. Head Brewer, Paul Spencer, joined us in 2001 and has overseen the evolution of the core range of beers whilst developing more experimental full flavoured seasonal beers. Paul and his team currently brew 200 brewers barrels a week at Ossett and a further 40 brewers barrels at our sister micro-breweries. In 2008 ex-Virgin Japan MD Mike Inman joined the brewery as Joint MD bringing his knowledge of international trade and retail experience which has been invaluable throughout our steady expansion.

Ossett Brewing Company Limited

Kings Yard, Low Mill Road, Ossett, West Yorkshire, WF5 8ND

01924 237160

http://www.ossett-brewery.co.uk

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