30 Years (2017) – Horsforth Brewery

Working the annual hop harvest used to be considered a holiday, with people travelling to hop growing hot spots (such as Kent) to take part in this yearly event. Sadly, this traditional pilgrimage seems to have faded into the archives, but all is not lost as we found out when visiting Horsforth Brewery and talking to owner, Mark Costello.

For the last couple of years, Mark has assembled a growing number of willing volunteers to grow hops in their back garden (or any other available space) to take part in his yearly brew of Backyard Brew. Subject to yield, this beer only uses hops grown by those who have cultivated them for the full season, usually running from around March to September.

Despite not having grown any hops ourselves this year, we headed over and helped pick the flowers from the bines which sounds easy enough. But we didn’t quite expect there to be as many bags, buckets or boxes full of hops needing to be removed…

Mark’s excitement was superseded by surprise as he didn’t expect as greater yield as what he was presented with. After looking at early weigh-ins, with plenty more yet to be picked and weighed, he said it was looking likely that a second beer could be produced from the same crop. The hop being grown was Cascade and, despite it being grown many miles from its home shores, it was smelling incredible.

I have stated on many occasions that the beer community is a wonderful space and seeing such involvement by so many people reinforced this. Mark said it felt great to be bringing people together after such a rough 12-18 months and it was heart-warming for him personally that people were willing to support him and the brewery. Having gone full time at the very start of the pandemic, to say he’s had some restless nights would be an understatement!

With Mark having just seen the birth of his first child, Arthur, he’s keen to see the brewery kick on and hopefully the next few months with be plainer sailing than those that have preceded them. With new brewer, Joe, now taking the helm and watching brewery proceedings closely, Mark is hoping he can now push Horsforth consistently into locations new. With some exciting new beers planned into the brew schedule already, I’m sure it won’t be long before we start seeing cans and kegs regularly outside the Yorkshire region.

Mark already has plans on how he can improve the brewery, which will hopefully allow him to host live music, comedy nights and his own meet the brewer events in the not too distant future. It’s a reassuring sign from the outside in that he continues to stride forward and push the business in the toughest climate the industry has ever seen with sales that continue to fuel his passion.

To learn more about Mark and his beers, head over to the Horsforth Brewery website for more information and check out their social channels for upcoming events and news.

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