2015 Year in Review

After our launch late in 2014, 2015 was always going to be momentous. So after watching everything beer related on YouTube, eating 20 clementines, finishing the three week old stollen (and catching up with emails) we decided a better use of our time in between Christmas and New Year would be to record it on virtual scrolls (The blog) and take a minute to reflect on the ups… and the downs.

We started the year with a capacity of roughly 19,000 pints per month and are finishing with a capacity of 76,000 pints per month a growth in beer production of 300%. This of course couldn’t have happened without the support of you. So first and foremost we wanted to say THANK YOU for your continued support (drinking ALL the beer)

February saw a new core libation join our existing line up in the form of “Faith” at 5.1% and all Citra it was probably the “juiciest bangeriest” beer we’d brewed to date. This proved to be one of the most popular beers in our range, every time we brewed it, it hit the warehouse floor and was gone in a matter of moments! Unfortunately we are not the only brewery with a love of Citra and we were unable to secure enough to brew it as much as we’d like and have secured even less for 2016. However after some experimentation we’ve decided we’re really happy with the results when replacing some Citra with Equinox. Faith will be back in 2016!

We added a new brother of Humulus Lupulus in the form of Adam, or Ads for short. He came in and instantly helped out with demand by working all the hours under the sun and helping out fellow brother Brian in the quest to make the best beer in the North!

Collaborations continue to be at the core of what we do and that didn’t change this year with us getting together with Edge Brewery (Red Ale), BrewDog Leeds *(Smoked Plum Saison), Quantum and Blackjack (Session Black IPA) Weird Beard (Belgian IPA), IndyMan (Quince IPA), Soul Rebel Brew Co (Peated Scotch Ale), and finally Yeastie Boys and James Kemp (Belgian IPA). In addition to this we tried out a load of new recipes on our pilot kit, which means you guys get us at our best, we never just tip up and do something. We test and test and test until we are happy with the quality of the beer we are putting out. These one of a kind kegs can be found on the taps at the Refectory so please make sure you come down and give us some feedback on some of our more experimental libations! You’ll also be the first to taste what might be to come on the big kit.

May saw the launch of 822 our Imperial IPA. So many oily little hops gave their lives to make this beer the homage to the first recorded year of the use of hops we were aiming for. Brian bathed in hops prior to the brew day, hops then went in the mash, the transfer to the kettle, the boil, and then we dry hopped 3 times in our attempts to make this beer the biggest hoppiest beast we could. As ever the quest to produce the perfect IPA is one of a lifetime and we were pleased with keg, the bottles we were slightly less happy with and next year will see the return of 822 in keg and a new small pack type…

Summer brought about a change in personnel for Northern Monk, Kath who has been with us since day one got the chance to travel the world. So off she went into the sunset to live the dream and get married! Congratulations Kath from everyone here at Monk HQ! This saw an opening in the team and in stepped Bridget, our hard as nails Ops manager, she also answered most of the calls, so you’ve probably already spoken…

August saw the commissioning of our fantastic Wild Goose can line and the first beer we put through it was our collaboration with The Yeastie Boys of New Zealand and James Kemp of Thornbridge, Buxton and now Marble fame. (congrats on the new gig Kemp) In honour of our ode to Star Wars “It’s a Trap” Darth Vader took some time out from his duties on The Death Star to help us out with the first can run. We launched our core can range in the beginning of September and this saw Eternal, New World and Northern Star hit the streets of Britain in a big way, launching in all good bottle shops across the country.

October was a wonderful month for the Monkhood as we were one of the partners for this years’ Independent Manchester Beer Convention which saw us turn the coveted Turkish Baths into the worlds first pop-up beer Abbey*. Here we unleashed some of our first barrel aged beers onto the thirsty folks at Indyman with our BA Strannik and Peated Soul hitting the taps for the first time. Huge thanks to the exellent team at IMBC for consistently raising the bar for beer festivals in the UK. IMBC was also the first outing for our brother of Libations a man who goes by the name of Tyler Kiley.

Along with the additions of 822 and Faith to our core and semi-core range, we also had some fun in the brewhouse with seasonal and LTD release beers. Rhubarb & Rosemary Blossom IPA, Pear & Hawthorn Wit and Parsnip & Black Pepper Dunkelweiss were released as part of our collaboration series with the Grub & Grog shop. Here we try to focus on locally sourced and seasonal ingredients and get fairly experimental. We hooked up with a local beer store a comic book shop and comic strip illustrtor to release Homebrew Homeboy. And last but by no means least we launched the Seven Deadly Sins Range; LUST came first and our interpretation of this was a Strawberry, Hibiscus and Rose Petal Saison. The launch of Gluttony had to be postponed for reasons to be revealed soon… We also produced the first beer and album collaboration in the UK. With the aim to engage more than just one of your senses we worked with a local Record Label Hide & Seek and photographer Giles Smith.

In November we received seven new tanks, giving us a total of 6 FV’s and 6 CT’s which sees us max out the space at our listed mill, along with a second site which is one giant cold storage facility and offices we’re ready for an even bigger 2016. Keep your eyes peeled as we embrace our raison d’etre “The Evolution of Tradition” and embrace the best of what came before us and look at how we move that forwards introducing some British recipes and beer styles that have been forgotten in the mists of the past.

Oh yeah, we also held two music festivals, made a monk video with a local director as part of our Northern Monk Patrons projects and picked up awards, nominations and praise from the likes of Shortlist Magazine, the Guardian, The Guide as well as local press for the Refectory and opened The Chapter Hall. Then there was Opeth but alas we have waffled enough… Maybe we’ll squeeze more into our year review for 2016.

So we end as we started by thanking all of the places that bought our beers, all the people that drank our beers and all the people that will try our beers in 2016! We’re young hungry and keen to embrace all that 2016 throws at us.

* Other pop-up Abbeys may exist.