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Stories from the Cellar

Our Cellar Master Jason tells us how he got to where he is today …

Flashback to Autumn 2014.

I was Assistant Manager of the New Inn, and there was a rumour going around town.

Bowland Brewery had been sold.

At the time the likes of Hen Harrier and Pheasant Plucker (or Sawley Tempted as it was then known) were brewed in the old milking parlour at Bashall Barn on a kit one quarter the size of the current brewery.

Bowland had already established a reputation for producing astonishingly quaffable cask ale through supplying local pubs and beer festivals. In fact, when a firkin of Hen Harrier hit the pumps at the New Inn on a Saturday afternoon, it would be gone with a matter of hours.

So the news that Bowland had been bought out was met with trepidation.

Will it still be the same beer? Would it still be as good? Would it even still exist at all?

Ask any modern beer fan and they’ll tell you that when news breaks of a small, independent brewery being bought by a larger company, there’s a lot to worry about. In recent history many adored brands have seen ownership transferred to national, even multi-national, conglomerates which immediately stripped away the very essence of what made them so beautiful in the first place.

However, Bowland was in safe hands.

Fast forward a few months and new owner Drew pops in to deliver some fresh AONB (Boxer Blonde these days) and Buster IPA. He tells me as much as he’s allowed to about the plans they have for expansion. A converted mill, a larger brewery, the longest bar in Britain, and that’s just the start.

With every passing week and every delivery run I’d pester him to see how close they were getting, essentially sprinkling hints that I wanted be involved.

I certainly cut my teeth at the New Inn, and it remains one of the best cask ale boozers around, but the scale of what was being planned for the future Holmes Mill site was too tempting to ignore, and I finally got my very own cellar in Summer 2016.

I’ve stopped counting how many pints have been poured or how many barrels I’ve tapped over the years, suffice it to say a lot, yet it’s still a labour of love for me because of the product I’ve thrown my career into.

Cask ale, for me, is the hyperion of beer.

Like a crocheted patckwork quilt or a portrait painting, such things require the essential inputs of time, passion, and effort.

There’s nothing that can be rushed with cask ale, from the meticulously scientific brewing process, to the careful cellar conditioning, all the way up to the optimum serve. There are hours, days, weeks from first firing up the mash tun on a brewday to that first moment when you raise your pint and the beer passes your lips; every moment in between is filled with anticipation and care towards achieving that perfect end result.

To be doing this day in, day out: eternally surrounded by firkins upon firkins, the hoiking and lugging, the venting and tapping, the wheeling and dealing, all sounds exhausting. And it is. But the reality is this isn’t a job, it’s just a hobby I get paid for.

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