Sean Franklin trained as a winemaker, spending time working and studying in Bordeaux before switching from grape to grain when he set up Franklin's Brewery in the back of the Gardeners Arms in Harrogate in the 1960s. His name (and his beer) quickly spread as he delivered beer to customers in a taxi he drove as a sideline. After selling Franklin's he went on to set up Rooster’s with his wife Alison in 1993. He allegedly named the brewery in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire after Rooster Cogburn from the Western film, True Grit.
Sean was a hop pioneer, introducing Yorkshire pub-goers to the variety and complexity of American hops at a time when traditional brown bitter dominated pump clips in the region. This approach meant Roosters became synonymous with innovation and a vibrant local beer scene over the next 20 years.
Sean isn't around nowadays. He signed off in 2011 and headed for Canada; "I'm looking forward to introducing Oliver and Tom to the dark arts of Rooster's brewing process. Then I'm going fishing, for a while…"
Oliver and Tom are the sons of Ian Fozard, former Managing Director of the much-admired 15-strong pub chain, Market Town Taverns. Ian bought Rooster’s at the end of 2011 and entrusted his sons to run the brewery; Oliver as Head Brewer, with Tom managing sales and distribution. Both of them had been working in the beer industry for a little while, Oliver having brewed at Daleside and Copper Dragon and Tom having previously worked at BeerRitz in Leeds. It was there that Tom (the supposed distribution and sales one), a keen homebrewer, concocted the now elusive and much-feted IPA, Baby Faced Assassin.
The two young men quickly set out their stall and unveiled new branding and a slogan to boot. "Free Range from Yorkshire" perfectly captures the individuality and creativity associated with Rooster’s beers.
Fort Smith, named after the town in which Rooster Cogburn lived, encapsulates this ethos. A big, bold American Pale Ale, brewed using Citra and Chinook hops from the USA to create tropical and passion fruit aromas and a lasting, bitter finish.
Rooster’s Brewery is one of the success stories of the UK craft beer revolution. Over a quarter of a century since being established, they remain an independent, family-owned brewery, still winning gold medals on the international stage, as well as closer to home. All whilst the craft beer industry has ballooned around them. That’s true grit right there.
Find Roosters Brewery online www.roosters.co.uk