Our beer expert Andrew Nowell takes a look at new source that has turned up in town to quench our thirst...
Beer barrels are emerging once more from a distinctive tall, narrow building just off Wallgate thanks to the effort of the recently-established Wigan Brewhouse.
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AllGates for years created an array of session ales and great traditional British beers from the unique, grade-II listed tower brewery in the town centre but the pipes stopped flowing with ale for almost two years.
That, though, is now at an end after experienced food and drink industry businessman Martin Blythe got his hands on the premises, bought all the equipment inside and got production started once more.
Martin admits he has thought about going into real ale before as his father John was a big cask enthusiast, but sadly his passing prevented his son’s first attempt at branching out into beer.
He is now delighted to be involved and leading the four-strong team headed by head brewer Jonathan Provost, who also previously worked for AllGates.
As Martin explains, Wigan Brewhouse’s repertoire at the moment consists of some tried and tested favourites which have been made in the building for years and a few exciting new developments.
He said: “We’ve had a rebrand with the logo and a few other things but we’ve still kept the core names and beers.
“We’ve kept the Old Boston plum porter, the very popular California, Pretoria and Dry Bones. We’ve also retained the session bitter Wigan Junction.
“We’ve then come up with some new ones ourselves. We’ve got Kicker, an IPA whose name is a tribute to the old Northern Soul dancing, a traditional English stout called Station Rd, one called Blue Sky Tea which is infused with a blend of teas from an award-winning company in Lancaster and Oceania, which is a New World golden ale.
“We’re also taking a few beers and changing them a bit. There’s the Gin Pit, which is infused with juniper berries, and then there’s a beer which had ginger and lemon in it. I’ve been looking at that with Jonathan and we’ve been working on using fresh root ginger and lemongrass in the brewing kettle for something a bit different. We racked that last week and it’s nice and refreshing, with not too much ginger in it.
“With my background in food I definitely want to experiment with putting different flavours and natural ingredients in the beers.
“We’re really enjoying it so far and our aim is to be brewing five or six times a week. The staff are really enjoying themselves and there’s a real buzz about the place after a couple of years with no beer being made there.”
AllGates boss David Mayhall has expressed his satisfaction that Martin stepped in as a buyer to found Wigan Brewhouse and the newly-named and slightly-tweaked beers are currently going down well at the network of pubs AllGates still owes, which includes staple real ale haunts like the Crooke Hall Inn.
Wigan Brewhouse is intended to complement Martin’s work in the hospitality business, which currently consists of running a property letting concern, a confectionary outfit and a butchers’ trade firm which sells skins for sausage making.
He has previously been involved in everything from fish and chips to restaurants, recalling peeling potatoes after primary school.
He now hopes to take the name of Wigan Brewhouse far and wide, saying it wants the quality of beer to be recognised by drinkers and ale fans far outside the borders of the borough.
He said: “I want us to sell beer not just around the North West but up and down the country. I also want Wigan Brewhouse to be a brewery which wins awards for its beer. It’s not just about beer which tastes good, I want that some recognition of that as well.”
For more information follow @Wiganbrewhouse on Twitter