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With the aim of turning his homebrewing hobby into a job, Tom Hick began looking for suitable premises for what would become Allendale Brewery in 2004, settling on a disused lead mill in Northumberland. The building needed a complete overhaul but he set to it, and with the help of his old man, had the brewery up and running for its first commercial brew on Valentines Day in 2006.
Tom now runs the business with his wife Lucy and head brewer Neil Thomas, who joined the team in 2009. Lucy hails from a creative background and is responsible for most of the design and artwork. Neil's trained as a chef and brings his incredible taste palate, creative flair and attention to detail to the brewing process.
In their formative years, the brewery focused on traditional, real ales to earn their keep, supplying local pubs and growing a local and loyal following in the process. But, much like the beer industry in the UK over the last decade or so, Allendale has continued to evolve and develop with the times.
Make no mistake, If you’re lucky enough to spend any time in the North East, you’ll still likely come across Allendale’s cask range in a number of popular, albeit more traditional watering holes. But head to any of the region’s most hipster hangouts and you’ll discover their more modern, forward-thinking brews that are having beer aficionados everywhere raving.
From cryo-hopped IPA’s to Rhubarb Saisons and single hopped table beers, Allendale is proving to be a brewery that can straddle the whole beer spectrum.
“Our roots have been established in brewing quality, consistent beer, mainly bottle and cask for the local market. We have always tried to reflect our region and heritage in our beers and now supply cask ale to outlets from York to Edinburgh. The past decade has seen a huge change in the way beer is consumed, and we have always tried to move with the times. Our mission has always been to brew the best example of a beer style that we can, and to continually develop new recipes using the latest ingredients, whilst providing the highest levels of service to our customers”, explains Tom.
This week’s beer, Tall Stories, is a Red IPA that makes up part of the brewery’s Wilderness Specials range. It uses American hops for a big tropical hit upfront and rye malts for a peppery, spicy finish that lingers. Initially brewed as an experiment to create a balance between hops and malt, it was based on a previous brew Red Rye which won a gold award at The Hong Kong International Beer Awards.
A recent boom in business has meant Allendale has over doubled in size since 2015. A new in-house canning line is on its way and with plans for further development in 2020, we’re expecting big things from Allendale in the years to come.