30 Years (2003) – Acorn

History and heritage aren’t things many modern breweries can champion given their relatively recent formation, but Acorn break that rule. Despite being established in 2003, Acorn deliver on both fronts with this being one of the main reasons why Dave Hughes, Managing Director, believes one of their flagship beers Barnsley Bitter does so well. He told me, “Our yeast, the original Barnsley Brewery yeast, allows us to pack in so much body and flavour and belies its ABV.” What makes this yeast so special?

Having lineage back to the 1850’s, Acorn champion this yeast and rightly so, there will be few others who can rival a claim of this nature. But Barnsley Bitter’s success reaches far beyond that of its own plaudits having won a silver award in its category in 2006’s and 2015’s Great British Beer Festival and scooping bronze in 2018. Making appearances in the finals of 2007, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017 & 2019, you can see that its popularity has been constant since its birth with similar success across the Acorn brand.

Being decorated with awards is one thing, but having a presence and strong following is another which Acorn have across the region. Despite being a Lancastrian himself, Dave believes that the breadth of beers and breweries available across Yorkshire has a knock-on effect when it comes to theirs and others’ success. Dave said, “The great thing about Yorkshire’s brewing scene has to be the fact that not just Barnsley Bitter but iconic beers like Timothy Taylors Landlord Bitter can be found on so many bars alongside very modern breweries like Magic Rock, Brass Castle and Brew York.”

This in turn can perhaps explain the recent resurgence in classic styles being brewed and people turning to cask beer more when visiting the pub. After the recent ‘haze craze’ it seems people have turned to cask to explore styles of beer that perhaps didn’t appeal before or in attempt to try something new and different. “The resurgence in classic styles and cask beer in my opinion is down to the fact that they have stood the test of time,” Dave suggested. “Newer varieties are interesting but I find that a half or a pint is of one is enough whereas most classic styles are more session able and easy drinking.”

In the social media age we’re in, the new and interesting beers are what seem to grab the headlines with beer tickers the world over searching for the next beer, not the one they drank last week. That said though, with the likes of the ‘Stand Up For Cask’ movement across multiple platforms, it’s not all doom and gloom for the old faithful beers out there. As Dave rightly pointed out, we can’t solely drink high ABV beers all night as much as we may like to, there’s a lot to be said for being sensible (sometimes) and staying lower strength. The Acorn MD’s passion for cask stems back to his early days as a chef when he decided to would re-train in production/brewing for Elsecar Brewery in Barnsley, and it’s something he’s glad to see gaining some traction again.

The local support for Acorn in and around South Yorkshire is plain to see and long may that continue, along with the accolades that their beers continue to be receiving. For more information about Acorn and their beers, head to their website.

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