Northumberland Juniper Ale

Published on 2 May
5 min read

A new Northumberland ale is being launched during the Bank Holiday weekend at a micropub called The Engima Tap in North Shields, which opened 2nd February 2019. The micropub has a passion to showcase local produce and as well as a focus on being environmentally friendly.

Already, The Enigma Tap has hosted several tap takeover days and offering the best of beers from the North East in a relatively short time. The first May Bank Holiday is the first Northumbrian Brewery Takeover to be held at the Enigma Tap, but should certainly not be the last! The special tap day coincides with North Shields annual food festival during the same weekend.

A New Ale

Juniper bush
Locally foraged juniper bush

A new beer has been created especially for the event and is a collaboration between Cheviot Brewery, Rigg & Furrow and The First & Last Brewery. The ale, called Northumberland Juniper, is juniper-focused with flavours coming from both the berries and the bush. There are many reasons for this. Firstly, the juniper berry is very popular in Scandinavian brewing, in particular, in Finland where a traditional beer called Sahti is still made today. The beer may also be of interest to gin lovers to discover real ale.

We like our beer to be made with Northumberland, not just made in Northumberland. Sam, First & Last Brewery

Both the juniper bush and berries are fantastic to brew with as they bring flavour as well as fermentation.

Foraging in the bushes
First & Last Brewery foraging in the Northumberland countryside

Cheviot Brewery

Based on the Ford and Etal Estate and recently celebrating success with another collaboration EtAle with local pub The Black Bull, the team at Cheviot Brewery show no signs of slowing with 2 new ales being released over the weekend.

The team at Cheviot Brewery

As well as the new release at The Enigma Tap, the other new ale, Trig Point is being launched at the popular The Curfew May beer festival in Berwick upon Tweed during the same weekend. Trig Point Ale is a hoppy, citrus-focused session IPA, a perfect drink during the warmer temperatures of May.

When the Enigma Tap contacted us about running a collaboration brew for a ‘Northumberland brewery’ event at their fantastic bar we jumped at the chance. Several discussions took place between the three breweries about what style of ale to go for and somebody suggested the juniper brew idea, it really intrigued us and we were more than happy to go with it. We had a great day brewing at Rigg & Furrow, it was interesting to discuss different techniques used by the three of us as the day went along. We came away with lots of tips and a bunch of new friends and are already looking forward to the next one. Jonathan, Cheviot Brewery

Artwork for ale
New Ale Trig Point released at The Curfew this bank holiday

The First & Last Brewery

Launching in 2016, the brewery is a family-run business in Elsdon. So far they have 8 beers. Their motto is Quality, Creativity and Sustainability. The pair, Sam & Red, try to keep things as local as possible and are avid foragers finding interesting local plants that can be used in their brews.

Alongside Northumberland Juniper, First & Last Brewery will be bringing along these ales:

Gorse Flower (Foraged Pale) – 4.3%

Brewed with Styrian Wolf hops and gorse flowers foraged from Northumberland, this light-bodied and refreshing golden ale has a beautiful floral aroma and rounded flavour profile with notes of lime and gooseberry. Brewed in cahoots with Northern Wilds (a foraging business in Tarset) for International Women’s Day 2019

Mad Jack Ha’ (Session IPA) – 3.8%

Named after the infamous Jacobite Mad Jack Hall from Northumberland who was eventually hung, drawn and quartered for his involvement in the rebellion. Mad Jack was born just a few miles from the brewery. Mad Jack Ha’ is a crystal-clear pale ale with a Mosaic hop punch which gives tropical aroma and flavours.

Orange (Stout) – 4.3%

Smooth, moreish session stout, 4.3% ABV. Loaded with chocolate malts & long-conditioned on Spanish bitter orange peel – a highly enjoyable nod towards everyone’s favourite Christmas stocking pressie.

Gose-berry Jam – 4.2%

Refreshing gose-style sour showcasing a blend of fresh Northumberland sloe berries with raspberries. A delicate balance of tart and sweet flavours combined with a subtle saltiness. Brewed in cahoots with StuBrew, Newcastle.

bottle of pale ale
Equinox Pale Ale by First & Last Brewery

Rigg & Furrow

The brewery already hosts successful tap days at its farmhouse in Acklington. Starting in 2017, the brewery has also collaborated with Credence Brewing and Bari Tea to create an Earl Grey IPA.

A local brewery team stall
The Rigg & Furrow Team

Why Collaborate?

Collaborations are viewed in the media as part of the ‘post-craft revolution’. After the success of many locally-based breweries popping up, not only around the country but around the world, a camaraderie between local breweries seems to be the next logical step in keeping things fresh and interesting. A collaboration allows new ideas to be shared, different brewing techniques, but it also forges long-lasting friendships too.

Mixing ale
Mixing up the new ale at Rigg & Furrow HQ

The main goal of a beer collaboration is to experiment with flavour and techniques. It is an enterprising activity, which also aims to support fellow brewers in a market so dominated by big brands. The first notable big beer collaboration was in 2006 between American breweries Russian River and Avery and started a trend that shows no signs of stopping as collaborations spill out to other industries including chefs, the music business and artists[1].

Celebrate Bank Holiday in Style

With a 3-day weekend for many of us, why not get out and about and try some fantastic new ales from local breweries.

Expect to see Northumberland Juniper making a splash with many beer aficionados. Perfect before and after the summer heat we’re expected to get this year again. Enjoy the taste of Northumberland. Let us know your thoughts on this exciting new beer!

Juniper berries
Locally foraged juniper berries

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