If Malton were a murky metropolis, then Brass Castle would reside beneath a rumbling railway arch in the midst of a grimy area of, soon to be uplifted, urban desolation. Malton however, is a pleasant, traditional and still fully operational, North Riding market town which bears no resemblance to the post industrial quarters of the large cities, beloved of purveyors of post modernist beers. I dare say, If Malton were the M-place, then Brass Castle would now have amassed a cult following of trendy bods, sitting in studio flats cracking open bottles of DIPA, desperately awaiting news of the next creation!
Having said that, Brass Castle don’t do too badly and have a lot of fans, an excellent reputation, and plenty of trade accolades. They’ve been going since 2011 and I’ve been a fan since I had a pint of Tail Gunner, a moreish, reddish, rye ale, in a local boozer. My personal rating of the brewery increased when I sank my first pint of cask Sunshine, their take on a US West coast IPA. Things got even better when I tasted the same beer dispensed from a key keg, it really is one of those beers that is better from the keg than cask. They produce a boat load of other stunning beers in cask, key keg, bottle and can, all of which are unfined, vegan friendly, and some gluten free; it’s fair to say that Brass Castle have been in the vanguard of the unfined way of thinking.
It’s not often I stick my neck out? But, Brass Castle are undoubtedly one of my favouritest breweries, a blend of the traditional and cutting edge modern British brewing, which is why, after a period of unwanted, yet enforced, restriction of my autonomy, I headed off to have look at their new Taphouse. Yeah, I know, they’ve had a tap room going on in the brewery for a while, but they’ve opened a brand new purpose built one in front of the brewery which has only been open about four weeks or so.
If you think it’s a bit of a trek into the heart of North Yorkshire then think again, Malton is well served by a fast(ish) bus service and train. It’s also suitable for a weekend stop over, the surrounding countryside and attractions provide plenty to do. As well as the Taphouse, there’s some decent traditional pubs, shops, and the town is now proclaimed as Yorkshire’s Food Capital; think monthly food markets, food festivals, cookery schools and lots of hearty local produce. In fact Malton seems to have everything that many of the trendy urban places seem to have. The Taphouse is no different and it’s a conservatively kooky example of recycling and upcycling. Virtually everything in the bar is reclaimed; flooring from a hospital in Oldham, malt sacks for cushions, sleepers for the bar top, hogshead tables, walls finished with barrel staves and corrugated iron. Most of it crafted by a young man called Sam, who’s varied CV proclaims him as jack of all trades and master of most of them.
There were two cask ales on; Tail Gunner and Hazelnut Mild when I was there. These are constantly rotated, as are the six keg taps poking out of the wall behind the bar, there’s also a real cider available and a chilled range of their own bottles and cans, plus some familiar, and also esoteric, Belgian ales. They hope to get a guest beer on soon which will probably be from Bad Seed another unfined and unfiltered Malton brewer. When it happens it will be, sadly, the only boozer selling Bad Seed beer in the town! You can also get tea, coffee (proper coffee from a proper coffee machine), soft drinks, Gin, and locally sourced pies and cakes, plus a complementary read of a range of daily and local papers. The toilets, although a shared single trap affair for both sexes, were very clean and well appointed with potions and lotions, and baby changing mat.
At present the Taphouse is open Friday to Sunday 10am till 8pm, but looking forward, there are plans to widen these times. At just after one o’clock on a Saturday afternoon there were around a dozen folk in of all ages, and as people went out they were rapidly replaced. I had three halves, a good chat with the team, a quick pike in the brewery, and when we left it was starting to get busier. In fact just as we were leaving, a group of smartly dressed twentysomethings wandered in asking if they could have a tour of the brewery? No problem! And one of the brewers gave them an impromptu tour of the Brewhouse. As long as the Brewhouse is open then they encourage casual visitors, which is quite nice, I think.
Beer? Superb. I tried the Hazelnut mild and Tail Gunner from the cask and Mosaic on keg. All wonderful and I wished I could have stayed all afternoon.
Verdict – A must visit. Worth an weekend overnighter if you’re travelling by car, or a day out on the train from Leeds, York or Scarbro’, or even the M-place and hinterlands! Regretfully no Sunshine OTB when I called, will have to try again, maybe a trip to Beertown 2017 in May is called for?