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RED LION ALES 

a former trading name  of Bob's Brewing Company formerly at 73 Dewsbury Road, Ossett, WF5 9QN.

Bob's Brewing Company, still known to many as the Red Lion Brewery, relocated its brewing operation from behind the Red Lion pub at 73 Dewsbury Road, between Flushdyke and Streetside, on the outskirts of Ossett, in early Summer 2009. Note that there is now no connection whatsoever between the brewery and this pub. Below is archived the previous web entry for the brewery.

Bob Hunter, photographed at the original brewery on Low Mill Road a few years ago. 
Photograph taken in the early days of the Red Lion Brewery
The brewery yard in the early days with a stock of casks waiting for a first fill: the upturned fermenter was replaced by a better one acquired at a price Bob couldn't turn down, from Kelham Island Brewery!
On branch visits to breweries we are seldom, on a Saturday or an evening, lucky enough to catch a brew actually boiling in the copper.

In the yellow skips on the lifter are spent grains awaiting collection by a local farmer.

Andrew Temporal, Assistant Brewer and owner of the motorcycle in the picture above, is reading his copy of O-to-K, branch magazine of Wakefield CAMRA.

New pictures taken June 2008, available in HD on this link  

How it began: The Red Lion pub under its landlord at the time, Pete Trafford (see foot of page), had been extending its guest beer range, and a logical next step was to bring in Bob Hunter (top picture), former co-founder of Ossett Brewing, to set up and run a 4-5 barrel length plant, brewing once a week, mainly for the pub itself. Originally annual barrrelage was about 300. The mash tun had to be trundled out of the way when not in use: Bob had originally planned to make it hoistable to loft level, but it was not practicable. Trying to shoe-horn the equipment into such a small space Bob's pipework had to be spot-on, and he was not short of bruises on the knees & elbows. An adequate power supply  had to be installed in the outbuilding. The only major hitch was that one of Bob's second-hand vessels leaked like a sieve when it was tested and a replacement had to be hastily found. Two conditioning tanks were squeezed into the space, and Bob would say say you couldn't slide a cigarette paper between them. There was and still is almost nowhere to store full casks so it's a real "just-in-time" delivery situation. 

The official launch took place at the Red Lion on Tuesday 9th April 2002, and the beers were also on sale at O'Donoghues in the City and occasionally at that time in The Plough at Warmfield. Contact telephone number 07789 693597. When Gordon Brown introduced Progressive Beer Duty, Bob insisted on passing the reduction on to his customers, enabling his beers to be sold at £1.69 for a 4.3% and £1.76 for a 4.5 or 5.2.(2003 prices!)

The Beer Range:The yeast Bob was originally using came from the Stones plant at Tadcaster but it proved to be too slow-working with Bob's smaller quantities (up to 9 days). He then turned to a yeast from Old Mill at Snaith and this was much more at home in his small vessels, being first used for Bob's Special Bitter, a satisfying pale brown 4.2% old-fashioned "beery" bitter with a lingering hoppy finish, using Northdown for aroma and Bramling Cross for bittering. This yeast was thenceforth used for brews of White Lion, a very pale, flowery 4.3% lager style beer using Cascade hops and the robust, very hoppy 4.5% Golden Lion which uses lots of East Kent Goldings. Golden Lion was "rested" for a while reappeared from time to time. Past specials have been a World Cup special - Three Lions not surprisingly, at 4.2%, and for the Golden Jubilee, Majestic at 5.2%, a strong lager-style beer. Silver Bullet  using lager malt, heavily hopped with Simcoe® by the original creator of the silver series, a 4.6% beer far preferable to Coors' hyped-up silver tinnies of Megaswill, and you might also have caught Golden Oldie at 4%. Visitors  from across the Pennines observe that Ossett folk like their beers really hoppy.

By moving the cold liquor tank out into the yard Bob managed to fit in an additional 3½ barrel fermenter for busy periods. He did develop a new version of I.P.A. with a revised recipe, extraordinarily light coloured and highly flowery with an enduring hop palate at 4.5%. The 5.6% dark beer Dark Force (alluding to what H.M. said to Paul Burrell, though nobody seemed to get the connection) was brewed with Bamberg smoked malt supplied by Brupaks of Honley giving a China tea smokiness; also a mellow gold Christmas 2002 brew was the 4.6% Three Kings. The 4.6% Chardonnayle® (now 5.1%) first brewed in time for the 2002 Wakefield Beer Festival, a complex & stylish strong pale ale with hints of lemongrass & fruits like a Chardonnay wine, using Willamette hops for aroma, continues to sell, along with Yakima Pale Ale a hoppy and fairly  bitter yellow 4.5% premium ale using hops from Washington State, placed joint second in the Popular Vote at the 2002 Beer Festival then placed top at Huddersfield Beer Festival. Chardonnayle® has since scooped Beer of the Festival at  Spring 2003's Bradford Beer Festival. To keep up with the demand for Chardonnayle® in particular, Bob has had to buy in a lot more 18 gallon casks. Bob’s installed 2 brand new 5 barrel fermenters, locally fabricated, costing approx £3000. These are tall and rectangular in shape—Bob likens them to those upright step-in baths for invalids, only without the doors! He has christened them Bill and Ben. Two of these fit into the space occupied by the squat round 5 barrel job which he bought from Kelham Island, with so much room to spare that he could have fitted a third. He’s had to take his copper out, and will need to rebuild the round block base on which it stands. The cold liquor tank which stood in the open for quite a while now, has gone into the Red Lion Kitchen cold store (that’s what’s behind the other door of the outbuilding), so all in all the brewery yard is trying to be be a much tidier place. The copper is now housed in a little outhouse, well, that's what (almost) Bob says it looks like! Red Lion beers, particularly Chardonnayle®, which made it to the 2003 Great British Beer festival, seem to be acquiring cult status among beer spotters. It has continued to receive high acclaim, including its selection as champion beer at St Albans Beer Festival 2004,  one of the largest festivals in the South East outside London, and as Beer of the Festival at the Dudley Winter Ales Festival 2005. Lion Cub, a 4.1% classic refreshing pale ale using Styrian Goldings hops and Maris Otter Pale Malt was on offer in September 2003 as a  session beers. Lion Tamer at 5.2% appeared in 2005 for the Halifax Mayfest  described as "intensely floral with a malty body". New in March-April 2006 was Pale Sunlight at 4.1%, ultra pale and intensely aromatic from Amarillo hops.

The turn of the year to 2004 saw a new phase for Red Lion Brewery. Pete and Hils Trafford  moved on to a new pub, The Blacksmith's Arms at Lastingham near Pickering. The locals there enjoyed Red Lion beers and these would regularly find their way up to Lastingham, friends from the Red Lion often taking up a nine in the car boot and calling off at Lastingham on their way to the Moors or Whitby. Bob  brewed Lastingham Ale for Pete at 4.1%, using for the first time English hedgerow hops and pale malt plus a small percentage of crystal malt.

The copper was reset on a masonry base and could be accessed through a port in the front wall of the brewery, whist being protected from the elements by a canopy. This gave space inside the brewhouse for a new 5 barrel fermenter. 

At this time the adjacent public house went through several changes of licensee, and it was not an entirely comfortable time for the brewery.

Then... it looked as if a major expansion was in the offing:

                            

Updated story from Summer 2004 edition of O-K from Ossett to Knottingley

It could be the end of skinned knuckles and cricked joints for Bob Hunter of Bob's Brewing Company, trading as the Red Lion Brewery, tucked up like a mediæval hermit behind the pub on Dewsbury Road, Ossett. He has acquired desperately needed new premises, just a couple of miles away near the centre of Horbury. Bob finds that his quickest, and fittest  way between the new plant and home is usually by bike, cutting down to Horbury Junction then using the Calder & Hebble Navigation towpath.

Bob hoped to have been brewing his award-winning hoppy beers  there "by the back end". He has ownership of a 500 sq ft industrial unit, still compact but there's the height to instal the brewing plant as a mini tower.

Whilst there were a number of maltsters in Horbury in the 19th Century and many ale houses then brewed on the premises, a quick search would suggest that this could be the first actual dedicated brewery in the town. Nearby was once the Ring O' Bells pub which served own-brewed ales, so Bob has considered using the name for a new brew. Asked whether the name Red Lion for the beers would continue, Bob was very much affirmative.

Whilst Bob hoped to slim the brewing operation back to just White Lion (keeping his yeast strain going) during the changeover, expecting that a key customer, O'Donoghues in Wakefield, would have had to be supplied via Beer Seller in Leeds, which Bob felt would have put his cask stock in jeopardy, he now finds that S & N  Retail, the new owners, will be prepared to accept local delivery - so Chardonnayle®  is unlikely to be rested through Spring 2005. Latest forecast from Bob is that things will be ready Spring - Summer 2005.

In Autumn 2005 local ale fans were stunned to hear that Bob had been stopped in his tracks by a stroke, from which he has fortunately recovered. Moreover Bob seemed now to be doing what he'd been told, relatively, that is - he is Bob Hunter after all. 

At first when out of hospital though walking unaided he was finding small distances quite great. He was soon back in brewing mode, although he was no longer trying to do it all himself. He did promise no physical work for two or three months or at least he said so. He and his wife Sarah were really touched by the help given by former colleagues at Ossett Brewing. 

Bob planned that brewing would continue at the Red Lion until at least the end of the year and set on a keen young chap called Andrew Temporal who did a little work at Ossett a few years back. Andrew was to brew at the Red Lion site whilst Bob continued fitting out the new Horbury premises. 

CLICK FOR  PICTURES OF THE HORBURY BREWERY SITE 

Progress on the new site slowed right down and Bob and Andrew found that by maximising their use of the existing plant they could fulfil all their orders to regular customers both locally and in Dudley. By keeping the supply chain tight they have an efficient turnaround of casks, and with a two-man team most of the beer can go out in 18s. The bulk of production is White Lion with either Yakima Pale Ale, Silver Bullet or Chardonnayle®  making up the balance of production at any one time. One new 5½ barrel fermenter was installed at the end of 2006 with another to follow shortly thereafter. 

Worldwide supply problems with hops after disastrous Autumn 2007 hop harvests in the Northern Hemisphere have necessitated the use of some different varieties so that Solstice appeared at the end of 2007 instead of Chardonnayle and Brewers Gold, a new aromatic yellow session bitter at 3.9% came on the scene early in 2008. For Summer 2008 were brewed Love Triangle, a very pale hoppy Summer beer using three kinds of hop, principally Centennial, and totally different tasting beer using lager malt with Centennial and Amarillo hops called Summer Solstice.

Chardonnayle® is a Registered Trade Mark. See a selection of what's been said about Bob's Ales on the Internet.

Bob's Brewing - the Core Range

Beer   Original Gravity ABV Description
Brewers Gold 1039? 3.9% an aromatic yellow session beer, presumably using Brewers Gold hops
White Lion 1043 4.3% very pale, flowery, lager style beer using Cascade hops
Yakima Pale Ale 1045.5 4.5% a hoppy & fairly bitter yellow strong ale, using Yakima hops from Washington State
Chardonnayle®  1051.5 5.1% complex stylish strong pale ale with hints of lemongrass & fruits like Chardonnay wine, with Willamette hops for aroma
We understand that freehold of the Brewers Pride on Low Mill Road has remained with Bob Hunter, but the lease of the outbuildings at the rear was not relinqished by Ossett Brewing when they moved to Kings Yard, so as to keep the option of creating small brews on the old site, but the plant was sold on fairly soon to the Blue Bear Brewery in Warwickshire. Below is the gist of a statement issued by Bob Hunter at the end of July 2008:
You may have heard by now, but I can confirm that Ossett Brewery finally surrendered the lease on the brewing premises at the Brewers Pride last week, so I am now in the process of relocating there.
I am only taking part of the premises as the pub tenants wish to use the main brewery building for other purposes, in fact, they hope to put some beers inside for the August Bank Holiday festival. We will be using the former beer conditioning room at the end, which will give us about 20 sq ft of space, but due to the shape of the room, it will enable greater operational efficiency. I do not envisage a vast increase in output, as I am not interested in quantity over quality, however, I dearly wish to get Chardonnayle production up a bit and have it more widely distributed, as I truly believe it is an all time great. Also, we will be producing repeats of old favourites and a few more one off's more often, but will still be a PALE ALE brewer !
It is with reluctance that we will be leaving* the Red Lion, there are three reasons :
1. A reason best explained by its outcome, in that the premises in front of the brewery at its new location are run with a similar ethos.
2. Security, four times now that we have had theft of vessels, van, etc. and recently we have been visited by 'travellers' after our casks.
3. Size of Dewsbury Road premises does not enable me to match brewing to my assistant brewer's output potential.

* in fact re-centring the brewing operation with some residual activity remaining at Dewsbury Road.

Brewery Liaison Officer is Bob Wallis.

 

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Red Lion landlord Pete Trafford (now at the Blacksmith's Arms, Lastingham)  pulls the very first pint.