My mate Gary recently visited the Cropton Brewery, about twenty miles north east of York, on the edge of the North York Moors National Park. His wife had bought him a ‘Brewery Visit’ for his birthday, and while we have plenty of breweries close to where we live, the visit included overnight accommodation in a scenic part of the country. Being aware of my interest in new brews, and my affection for Yorkshire ales, Gary was kind enough to bring me back a selection of the brewery’s ales.
The Cropton Brewery was founded in 1984, in the cellars of Cropton’s ‘New Inn’, supposedly to address the concerns of the pub’s regulars that the local brewery’s dray might not be able to get through when the weather becomes inclement – and on the North York Moors it can get very inclement.
Their first brew was named ‘Two Pints’, because a pint was said to be worth two pints of anything else.
Brave words methinks.
Word of the New Inn’s ales spread quickly and they were soon invited to supply other local pubs.
In 1994 a purpose built brewery was built on farmland behind the pub, and a bottling line installed. Within a year they had doubled their production, and they now have a range of around fifteen brews. My mate Gary was kind enough to bring me samples of eight of them.
The first brew on my ‘to try’ list is, coincidentally, that first beer that Cropton’s brewed – “Two Pints”.
It pours a bright amber colour, with a head that’s best described as ‘reluctant’, the nose is subtle, hints of maltiness and threats of hops, and of toast. Not burnt toast, but pale golden toast, dripping with butter. The flavour, however, takes us in a different and unexpected direction, with ginger cake and butterscotch. Leaving the maltiness far behind. The hops are Challenger and Goldings but they’re way back in the mix. Overall the brew is pretty well balanced.
The final flourish flavour wise is a hint of nuttiness. And, to be honest, given the hints of butterscotch and nuttiness I would have guessed this to be a ‘Yorkshire’ ale, and while it is indeed brewed in Yorkshire, from Gary’s description of the brewery, Cropton’s don’t use traditional ‘Yorkshire Squares’ in their brewing.
It is, however a fine brew and worthy of three Brewclub stars.
Special mention should be given to Cropton’s bottle caps… they’re decorated to reflect traditional Yorkshire tweed flat caps… a very nice touch. It shows that somebody’s paying attention, and has a sense of humour. I like that.