30 Years (2011) – Magic Rock

Whilst Magic Rock might not be considered ‘craft’ by many drinkers due to their recent acquisition, it would be remiss not to include them in this project. Not only from a personal level, but also given their roots within the county and how they were part of the initial wave of modern & contemporary brewers in the advent of a booming craft beer scene. Their story is an interesting one I think, no matter where you look and your opinion of them.

For those who may not know, Magic Rock were acquired by Australian-based food and beverage company Lion Global Markets, who also own Fourpure and Little Creatures, in 2019. Unlike the Beavertown and Heineken deal, 100% of the company was sold to Lion as opposed to a minority stake, thus handing 100% control to Lion rather than keeping the decision making wholly in-house. No longer being under independent ownership, this meant that craft drinker purists instantly boycotted the brand and vowed to no longer drink their beers.

The brewery, however, has remained in Yorkshire and despite now being part of a larger organisation, Magic Rock seem to be committed to their home county and maintaining the brand and following which they have built. But where did it all begin?

Owners Rich Burhouse and Stuart Ross first started planning a brewery back in 2010, luckily with a location already in mind (probably one of the hardest things to achieve when setting up a brewery!) Rich’s family had an unused outbuilding which they could call home, albeit with a bit of much needed TLC and subject to the lovely folks over at planning permission/building control. But what should they call it? A randomly generated, catchy or quirky name? Well, kind of. Quirky that is anyway!

Rich’s family business has been in operation since the 1960s’ importing precious jewels and minerals for sale and distribution across the UK. Of course, some of these rocks have purported magical qualities so the name ‘Magic Rock’ eventually seemed logical. Not wanting to have a name with no meaning and something that would stand out and be memorable, I think they ticked all the desired boxes.

Several re-brands later, including going from bottles to cans, and moving away from their original birthplace it’s fair to say that Magic Rock have come a long way since they first brewed in 2011. After my initial introduction to craft via Brewdog (simmer down at the back) my natural journey saw me land at the mercy of the team at Magic Rock, sampling the likes of Highwire, Highwire Grapefruit, Cannonball, Fantasma, Inhaler, Saucery and more.

Buyout aside, I have a personal attachment with Magic Rock given it was an essential & integral part of my journey, being educated early doors by my brother and dad. We’ve had a few trips over to their taproom which inevitably, like any other beer trip, always result in a sore head the following morning. Again, buyout aside, you can’t deny that Magic Rock have been extremely influential on the craft beer scene not only within Yorkshire, but also far beyond our county lines. With that in mind, their place in this project is equally as important as any other alongside it.

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