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Now For Something Completely Different

Variety is the spice of life, but in the brewery business it is absolutely essential. The ever-expanding UK ale scene has seen to that, but providing variety is also a basic principle of business, and even if you are one of the biggest brewers in the north, you have to diversify, expand and offer something new or you get left behind. That’s not a position Ossett Brewery has ever taken up and we don’t intend to start now, so we have always strived to produce new flavours, adapt new techniques and, let’s be honest, give our taste buds a treat, by developing new beers and keeping the market supplied with fresh invention from deepest Ossett. 

Of course we are lucky at Ossett Brewery that our production schedule is constantly maxed out and has been for some time. Our core beers – Silver King, Big Red, Excelsior and Yorkshire Blonde – rotate quite happily and we just about produce enough to keep our customers happy, while also satiating the desires of those discerning drinkers that want their palate to sample the full range of full-bodied flavours and delicate tastes we can offer on a regular basis. 

It is true that our talented team of brewers could probably make these core beers in their sleep, repeatedly pouring in the same malts and hops and measuring the right water temps and quantities, but I can assure you they don’t! Consistency and high standards are the key to our beers and their success, and a huge amount of work and focus goes into maintaining those standards, so there is a great deal of satisfaction to be gained when every fresh brew comes out as it is supposed to. But you should see their little faces light up when the production schedule shows a seasonal beer is coming up on the horizon…..


Typically we schedule one advertised seasonal beer per month and the way we plan enables us to forecast ahead for the full twelve months. Depending on demand and our success in keeping up with the production schedule, we are also usually able to fit in one or two more seasonal beers each month, which we decide on nearer the time. For example, in January and February of 2018, we were scheduled to make Evolution – a 4% pale ale brewed with English Ernest hops and offering aromas of apricot, citrus and spice – and God’s Own Bitter – a traditional amber-coloured Yorkshire bitter. But we were also able to hose everything down and squeeze in a batch of South Pacific – a straw-coloured IPA using New Zealand hops – and Snowdrop – a refreshing and very popular pale bitter. 


March, April and May have seen us produce a batch of White Rabbit (a hoppy pale ale), Brit Hop (a pale session bitter), Progress Porter (as the name suggests, a silky-smooth black porter), Ambrosia (an American IPA) and Inception (an all day IPA). 

Naturally, the name ‘seasonal beers’ means there are some standard favourites that we like to brew every year to suit the calendar and impending special occasions. Making the production schedule particularly easy each year are Jive Bunny for Easter, By George for St George’s Day, Spellbound for Halloween and Nervous Turkey for Christmas. These are perennial favourites with our customers, and with each seasonal beer typically getting a 40-barrel run, they soon get snapped up by our pub estate, who like to offer a beer themed around an event, and other wholesalers and national brewing chains who look to feature seasonal beers on special occasions.


Undoubtedly, our beers themed around calendar events are the most popular, but these exciting diversions from our core range do also give our brewing experts and our marketing team a chance to experiment, innovate and challenge themselves. Trying new hops, malts and mixing and fermentation techniques are a seasoned brewer’s equivalent of playtime, birthdays and Christmas all rolled into one, and the unrivalled experience of our team ensures that standards are maintained, there is a confidence and surety about what the resulting brew will look, smell and taste like and there is no waste. The brew turns out exactly how we expected it to and it becomes another unique beer we can add to our roster and offer our customers thirsty for a new beer experience. 


So what does the rest of the year have in store if you are an Ossett Brewery fan seeking new beers to sup? Well, the Summer months will see Jester (a golden hoppy bitter) and Summer Fruits (a smooth pale ale) on the production plan, all building up to a special 20th anniversary beer, ready to be brewed in August for the brewery’s special birthday, we will keep the specific characteristics of this special beer to ourselves for now.


The Autumn and Winter months have plenty more scheduled though. Turning Leaves for September is described as a ‘Golden Autumnal ale’, while Mai Tai is a tasty session IPA. Spellbound for Halloween in October is mysteriously described as a ‘magical golden brew’, while Treacle Stout is a rich and robust stout that sounds ideal for Bonfire Night in November. We close the year with Columbia Creek (a golden session IPA), Nervous Turkey (a golden hoppy beer) and finally Silver Bells, which is an American style pale hoppy ale.


All this creativity certainly whets the appetite and stretches the imagination of our marketing and brewing team, but even with our new, increased production capacity – in the shape of four new 40BBL fermentation vessels which we are now using – this doesn’t necessarily mean we will be producing more seasonal beers. After all, our core range is very popular. It will take something very special to break into that top four and usurp one of those enduring favourites, and we are always having to balance the thirst for new beers and the innovation of the brewery with financial common sense and commercial viability.


So expect much, much more of those beloved beers you have stayed loyal to over the last 20 years, but keep an eye out for the cheeky scamps; the new kids on the block that carry the Ossett Brewery identity, and therefore offer a seal of quality and a wealth of sensory wonder, but also bring something new, something energising and something intoxicating. As ever, the journey to a beer elixir starts right here, so strap yourselves in, cleanse your palate and let us offer you something completely different.

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