Nine months ago, we made the decision to take on investment, a decision that you can read about in this previous blog post. It was another milestone moment in an incredible journey that started in a damp cellar in the North. Since then, we’ve been quietly building on everything we’ve done. With year-end approaching, we wanted to publish an update that gives you some insight into what’s been going on at Northern Monk over the last few months.

Our journey up Ben Nevis started at a Morrisons car park in Bradford. A few WhatsApp’s with Haze whilst doing the weekly shop later, and the initial plan to take a brew kit on our next quest to a tarn in the Yorkshire Dales quickly escalated to brewing at the top of the UK’s highest mountain. It was definitely the kind of idea someone that doesn’t brew beer everyday would assume was doable (looking at you Haze), but when we thought about it, it actually ticked a lot of boxes, and definitely challenged our foraging, brewing, wild camping and fitness skills. Most importantly, it meant that we’d create a small amount of (hopefully) incredible, and certainly completely unique beer that we could sell to raise funds for our Foundation. Watch the video here. Buy the beer here.

We’re really proud of this project. We set out to brew the highest altitude beer in the UK to raise money for community and environmental causes in the North, and we completed the challenge. Unfortunately, some news outlets focused on the clickbait topic of the price, rather than the fact that this was all done with the sole purpose of raising funds for the For the North Foundation. However, awareness of the project is high, and we’ve been able to raise over £10.5K so far.

For the second year in a row, we worked with our local community to create a calendar celebrating Holbeck, where all the proceeds go back into the community. Some people in the business are slightly perplexed by our calendar initiative – it’s not exactly brewing beer! However, it’s proven to be an incredibly powerful tool for raising the profile of Holbeck, not only within Leeds but across the wider region, and gives a platform to those who haven’t had the opportunity to tell their stories before. We are fully invested in this area. More of our staff members have moved into the LS11 postcode this year too, we’re all proud to be fully integrated members of the Holbeck community.

Dark & Wild City 2019 took place in November, thank you to everybody that attended over the weekend. Adding the wild element proved a big success and is something that we’ll continue to incorporate into the festival in future years. Hop City 2020 early bird tickets are available now.

We’ve also made our very first acquisition. Kind of…

When we hit yet another capacity wall earlier this year, we looked at numerous options for how we could expand our fermentation capacity and the footprint of the brewery. We costed out several options, but it was clear that expanding in our current site didn’t make much sense in the long term. A joke about going next door to try and buy the equipment of our neighbours, Leeds Brewery, became reality when that conversation actually took place, and they told us they were also ready for the next chapter of their journey. It turned out that they were interested in moving to new premises just up the road and as a result, we recently took on their site. As part of acquiring the unit, we’re lucky to have some members of the Leeds Brewery team join us. We’re delighted to add Fay, Brandon, Issac and Josh to our family.

To wrap it all up, we took home the accolades of Brewery of the Year and Beer of the Year (Faith) at this year’s Brewers Journal Brewer’s Choice Awards, which is testament to how hard the whole team has worked this year.

As 2019 draws to a close, we’ve set our objectives for next year, and we wanted to share a few of the big ones with you…

  • Make the Sunday Times list of best small companies to work for. We are delighted to have achieved a three-star accreditation with Best Companies, the highest level of accreditation that it’s possible to achieve. This accolade was a dream for many of us within the business, to have achieved three stars is a huge milestone. We are deeply passionate about our team, and the procedures and policies that we’ve put in place to look after the people within our business. We’ll find out whether we’ve made the list in February.
  • Continue to challenge ourselves in raising the bar for beer experiences. For us, beer is about sitting in the sun with an uncomplicated, uninvolved pint. Beer is about sitting with friends, digesting and debating the nuances of the barrel aged imperial stout you’re sharing. Beer is about re-living nostalgic childhood food and drink experiences in a previously unimaginable beer format. Beer is all about experience. Here’s some that we’re excited about bringing to you in 2020…
    • Northern Monk’s first brewery outside of Leeds.
    • A dedicated wild project.
    • More Faith. Everyone’s got to have it.
  • To fully fund five further For the North Foundation grants. Our first two have been awarded to Meanwood Valley Urban Farm and RISE, who are part of St Luke’s CARES. Look out for ways that you can get involved in the Foundation rolling out in 2020.
  • To become a B Corp accredited company. On top of the three star accreditation, this would be a huge accolade.
  • This year we hit a milestone, and to celebrate that milestone we gifted each member of staff with a pair of custom Nike Air Max Ones. In 2020, we aim to create our second pair.
  • To retain Matt, our Account Manager’s title of Second-Best Gravy Wrestler in the World, and play our part in making the world’s first ever Yorkshire Pudding Festival a total success.

Thank you for your support this year. 2020, we’re ready for you.