Craft Beer UK: Wylam Brewery

Take a tour of  Newcastle’s Wylam Brewery, its history and range of distinctly modern UK craft beers.

There once was a man who peddled his wares. From town to town the people declared: Beware! He’s an awful sort, his poultices are deadly, if you take a sip, the price will surely be heavy! Look at these Jakeheads, their backs broken by greed, he’ll give you what you want but not what you need. The cure is a ruse, a sorry excuse – the pure ethanol inside will render your body no use!

Foreboding fables and thrilling folklore flood through the flavourful and especially safe-to-drink creations born inside the resplendent architecture of Wylam Brewery. Their Jakehead IPA is a prime example, named after the macabre colloquialism attached to those afflicted with irreparable spinal injuries thanks to a travelling ‘medicine man’ by the name of Dr. Jakes and his fraudulent tincture.

Despite taking influence from such sordid individuals as Dr. Jakes, Wylam’s approach to producing craft creations is more responsible – yet perhaps just as daring. The uncompromising artwork and startling titles attached to their brews – beers such as their Imperial Vegan Stout, Club of Slaughters – conjure visions of oblivion, dreams of past lives and portraits of a future never to be. However, much like the medicine man of their lore, beer lovers are flocking to Wylam and searching out their brews with a deserved voraciousness.

After recently moving to Newcastle-Upon-Tyne’s renovated and repurposed Palace of Arts – a £1.8m project on the part of the brewery – Wylam are now fully equipped to quench the thirst of those in search of a delicious and evocative brew up and down the country. However, such grand surroundings are relatively new to the brewery. Wylam’s founding fathers, John Boyle & Robin Leighton pawed over their first malt bills and recipes in a potting shed in the village of Wylam, Northumberland.

Clearly Wylam’s influences are many, yet the brews they produce are leading the way when it comes to highlighting just how unique and engaging contemporary British beer can be. Late last year the brewery managed to see off fierce competition from the likes of Beavertown, Cloudwater and Northern Monk to be crowned Peoples Choice Award Winners at the 2016 Independent Beer Awards.

From a delicate lemon & rosemary saison, to an impenetrable smoked black bitter named Puffing Billy, to a “Calyx” barley wine aged in Madeira barrels, no brew lacks conviction, yet they all go down without a fight. Perhaps it’s time to redefine what being a ‘Jakehead’ truly means…

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