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Salt Beer Factory Brings Philanthropy Back To Saltaire

Philanthropy is defined as the voluntary promotion of human welfare. In that sense, the simple act of Ossett Brewery making beer for people to drink is our donation to the world. After all, as the red neon sign reads in the newly-complete Salt Beer Factory; “The purpose of beer is to create pleasure” and you’re very welcome.

It is the perfect fit for the new micro-brewery and multi-discipline taproom, now the signature feature of the Ossett Brewery empire, to be situated in Saltaire; the home of philanthropy and charitable giving. Now modern day benevolence can reach out to people and provide something to make their lives better. Of course you would expect a £1.7 million investment to do that as a bare minimum, but the Salt Beer Factory delivers in every sense and in the finest traditions of Sir Titus Salt.

The 19th century industrialist moved his textile mill to the Shipley area for purely commercial reasons, but it was not lost on him that he had a duty to the people he employed. He constructed the model village of Saltaire in 1851 to fulfil the societal needs of those people, and in so doing demonstrated paternal instincts not in keeping with the class system of the day.

Salt constructed his own civilisation from scratch, providing his workers with their own neat, stone houses. He also built washhouses, bathhouses, a hospital, a library, a concert hall, a gymnasium, a school and a church. It was enlightened urban planning that encouraged recreation and a good standard of living, and it was way ahead of its time. The direct parallels with the opening of the Salt Beer Factory 167 years later are maybe a little fanciful, but the concept of conveniently providing everything a person might need, in this case all under one roof, perhaps makes it a 21st century microcosm of Salt’s 19th century vision.

Under the cavernous ceiling of the skilfully preserved 1904-built former tramshed we have a working brewery, a shop, a wood-fired pizza oven, a stage for live acts, a DJ booth, a tap room and a private hire conference facility. When assessing the various needs of our work, rest and play existence, there’s very little left out here, and in that sense, the Salt Beer Factory already feels like everything we’ve ever wanted.  
While Titus Salt built his mill where he did because of its proximity to the transport links afforded by the railway and the Leeds Liverpool Canal, so Ossett Brewery’s investment has similar commercial value. The craft beer scene has created a bountiful playground of experimentation and inventive tinkering, market forces have blurred together to form a rich tapestry of creativity and collaboration, where competition is healthy and sparks wholesome motivation to improve and innovate.

It was as natural as, well, turning malt into beer, that Ossett Brewery would raise the stakes in the craft beer game, having already played a major part in dragging lovingly-produced ales into the modern era. And this is what the Salt Beer Factory is all about; a significant investment in brewing show-stopping beers and bringing new tastes, aromas, designs and ideas to the table.

And so we have a hugely impressive row of gleaming stainless steel fermentation vessels and everything on site for a 20 hectolitre beer factory; from brewing to packaging into casks, kegs and cans and of course to drinking. The Salt Beer Factory is self-sufficiency in a beautiful building; the Good Life for 2018. Taking heritage, faithfully preserving it and producing modern beers with a playful twist and one foot in the future.

Work began on converting the former tramshed behind The Hop in July, but in truth the seed for the idea was planted three years ago. The end result is far more ambitious and extraordinary than anyone could have first imagined, certainly taking inspiration from the philosophy that if you are going to do something, do it spectacularly. So we have mezzanine floors, huge portholes, copper beer tanks suspended on walls, a striking hexagonal mosaic that is as ubiquitous as it is ingenious and an all-round industrial chic that maintains the character of the building’s former guise, but somehow creates a charm and warmth. Bare concrete floors and furniture constructed from wooden pallets, have never felt more like home.

The Salt Beer Factory is open for comedy, music and drinking on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. The private hire conference facilities are open all week, and can include pre-booked brewery tours. And of course the micro-brewery is operating 24/7, producing a world of new flavours and bringing love, passion, originality and expertise to Saltaire and the rest of the world.

So now we have names like Jute and Alpaca to add to the roster of staple beers, and coffee porters, session IPAs and even a lager to offer choice and fulfilment in equal measure. The Salt Beer Factory is bringing fresh cheer to the people, and that is just the start. Craft Asylum is a range of bars that will showcase the Salt range, and the first two will be opening this month in Leeds, where the craft beer scene is exploding like a bag of malt into a hopper. Basically it’s everywhere, and the Craft Asylum bars will become THE place to sample the best of Salt’s inspiring range, some exciting collaborations and some choice selections from our neighbouring brewing friends across the region.

It all begins with the Salt Beer Factory and a concept that lovingly blends the past and the future, in a way that would have made Sir Titus Salt smile with contentment. His legacy is preserved in the enduring genius of Saltaire, and now Ossett Brewery have taken that humanitarian spirit and given it a shake. The purpose of beer is to create pleasure, and the Salt Beer Factory is here to ensure that pleasure never tasted so good.


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