Crossing The Great Divide : North Riding Comes To Stalyvegas

I frequently get irritated with some of the excitable chatter online about beer. The unquestioning worship of the latest “double this” or “triple that” and the never ending exoticism of ingredients that seem to utilised by the favoured brewers of any particular moment.

Sometimes, I get so pissed off that I almost scream at the screen.

I think we kind of lose the point about beer. It isn’t about ingredient gymnastics or fireworks. It’s about flavour. The all important “F word”. And consistency. Making bloody good full-flavoured beer.


THAT is something that grabs my attention.

One evening – about a month ago – I saw a tweet from the exceedingly eloquent Mark Johnson. About a certain beer going on the bar at Stalybridge Buffet Bar. “Fudge Brownie Stout – Ski Sundae edition” from North Riding / Five Towns /Beer Central.

So that night, I didn’t go home from work. I went to Stalyvegas. And at some point during conversations, it hit me. I was in a regular outlet for North Riding beers. “ON THIS SIDE OF ‘THE HILL”

You see. I’m a fan. And – after a number of years of preaching – there are a hard core of fellow believers in the Manchester area.

When I heard tell of an impending MTB with Stuart Neilson co-owner & head brewer at North Riding Brewery, I wasn’t going to miss it for all the tea in…. Great beer in a great bar. I’ve known Stu for a while and was intrigued to see how he related to a crowd – and the occasional heckle from YT.

Our little group of 5 helped to fill the room. The attendees ranged from mid 70s to mid 20s. From Bloggerati to straight up beer loving drinkers. It was a great cross section of people who enjoy good beer.

And the beer WAS good. Damn good. You don’t get elevated into the rarified atmospheres of Ratebeer Top 20 in the UK if you’re not damn good at what you do.

From US Session through a delicious (single hop) Centennial and Mosaic to a rather lush Mocha Porter and simply sublime Sorachi Stout and that FBSS mentioned earlier. The beer was just xstunning. And a perfect representation of East Ayton output.

Stuart explained about the origins of the brewery from the North Riding Brewpub (2bbl kit in the cellar) and the progression to what I refer to as “The Factory” (The current 10bbl kit located in the countryside outside Scarbados at East Ayton). Colin mentioned the calls to get pubs to buy beer. Now reversed – and rightly so.

Now, pubs – and wholesalers – call the brewery. They get that this is damn fine beer.

Questions flowed.

Barbara asked a question about Kegging – given that Stuart had mentioned about the packaging split being 98% cask, 2% bottle. Something that – given the likely move to bigger premises soon – Stuart didn’t rule it out. But he was very clear, brewing for keg, the beers would be designed for it, with higher hop rates.

Questions re fining : “Pales yes, darks never”

The question from Mark struck a chord. This was wondering if Stuart had thoughts about why his darker beers attracted the bigger ratings. Something that I think he’s a bit puzzled about – ratings wise.

Which led us to the word – if is indeed such – “Pastriarchy“. Based on beers such as Fudge Brownie Stout. Upon hearing that “word”, I felt a compulsion to remind Mark as to the proximity of the sea.

That WILL be the gift that keeps giving.

(pic courtesy @LeedsBeerWolf)

The food was stunning. Beef Jerky, ribs and crab balls. All superb. (I was scanning slates the scraps….) Bravo Caz.

This is a predominantly cask brewery. Using aromatic hops properly. For maximum flavour and aroma. That’s the customer base. It pays the bills, wages. The beer sells. Almost – in some cases – as soon as the idea is put forth. Seriously.

For the princely sum of ¬£10 this was an excellent night. You’d be mad to miss the next one.

Stu & Colin were in a rush to get back to Scarbados. The simple fact that they came over from Scarborough was a testament to the bar, to how the beer is looked after and presented. The attention to detail.

It’s almost like Caz knows what she’s doing!

Our group came from Wolverhampton, Sheffield, Poynton, Bolton & Middleton. They came to meet the brewer of some of the best cask conditioned beer in England. And they did. (Quite friendly for a border crosser actually….)

At one of the best pubs in the North.

A heavenly match. And well worth travelling for.