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Salopian Brewery; Living the Dream in Calderdale....

Some of the most frequent visitors this year on the guest beer list of many of Calderdale's favourite pubs and bars have been beers like Lemon Dream and Shropshire Gold from Salopian Brewery. Now unlike other frequent visitors such as Abbeydale, Vocation, Mallinsons, and Saltaire, Salopian aren't local but originate, as their name suggests, from Shropshire.

Salopian beers are brought to this area by Russ Baron, who over the last 20 years or so has also introduced beers to this area from the likes of Newby Wyke and Purity. Russ is able to offer a more personalised service to both the pubs and the breweries themselves than general beer distributors so that the arrangement suits both parties. Whilst Russ also works nowadays with both Millstone and Pictish breweries, it is Salopian which is the one in the most demand these days!

When Russ - who I have known for 25 years - mentioned some time ago there would be a Meet The Brewer evening with Salopian at the Victorian Craft Beer Cafe in Halifax, I decided I would go along if I could. And so last Saturday I met up with Russ, Jake Douglas from Salopian, and one or two others including Phoenix Brewery's Tony Allen and his good lady, and Stuart from 'The Pub Paper'. We were also joined later by our Tom, Russ's mate Francis, and, briefly, by Brian Shackleton, from the now sadly-closed Works in Sowerby Bridge, where we had drunk a barrel of Lemon Dream at my brother's wedding in September. 

The Victorian, which initiated the revival of Halifax town centre when it opened a couple of years ago, has been an enthusiastic supporter of Salopian beers, and has been joined in doing so by the new micro pubs in the town like the Pumproom and The Alexandra. Elsewhere, the Cross Keys at Siddal, the Big Six at King Cross, and The Market Tavern at Brighouse are all other places where Salopian has got a loyal and keen following.

Jake - a supporter of his home-town team, Peterborough United -  had come up for a tour with Russ of some of the pubs mentioned above. He told me he had been at Salopian for about 8 years after previously working for Oakham and Vale breweries, and one of the key factors in making the move was the fact that Salopian would allow him to take his dog with him to work. Under his period at the brewery - where his ideas and experience have made a big difference - production has increased significantly so much that they had to move from their site in Shrewsbury to a new brewery in the village of Hadnall, 4 miles away, where they now have a gleaming 50 barrel plant. The beer range has increased as well so that whilst 95% of their beer goes into cask, they also offer a number of beers in their Black range in keg - Kinetic, Propaganda, Kashmir, and Blindspot to name a few - although some do also appear in cask. These tend to be stronger, fuller-flavoured, more hop-forward beers. The regular cask beers - Shropshire Gold, Darwin's Origin, Oracle, Hop Twister, Lemon Dream, and Golden Thread - cover most of the angles in delivery a range of styles and flavours, but each is excellent in its style. Lemon Dream, which originally started out as a special and features a small amount of lemon in each brew, has become so popular it is now part of the regular range.The beers are regularly found in Shropshire and the West Midlands, and turn up in other parts of the country via wholesalers, but Calderdale is an extremely strong location, thanks to the efforts of Russ and the local beer drinkers! 

There were plenty of Salopian beers on at the Victorian, of which I sampled a few, and after Jake had taken a few trays of tasters around to grateful early evening customers, we moved on to another couple of places in town, joined by Tom who had finished his shift behind the bar at the Victorian and his mate Liam. There were no Salopian beers on at the Grayston Unity, but there were at the Pumproom, both of which were busy. It was an interesting and enjoyable evening, good to have the chance to meet one of the team from one of the best breweries in the country, and I look forward to drinking their beers over the years to come. If you get the chance to try them, please do so.

A couple of other things to mention. Sean Garvey has recently sold Dirty Dick's in Halifax after several years in control. This has been a regular port of call over the years, regularly before football, but other times as well. I have always enjoyed meeting Sean and I wish lhim all the best for the future.

Last night I went to the Buffet Bar in Stalybridge after work where this weekend's beer festival had just started. Good to have a catch-up with the crowd there, and tried some good beers from the likes of Moor and Fallen. Oh, and I also had a beer which you rarely see in that area. Lemon Dream from Salopian. And very nice it was too...

Jake and the crew from the Victorian Craft Beer Cafe, Halifax


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