Welcome Tyne Bank Brewery to the gang
We are delighted to now count Tyne Bank Brewery as one of our clients, an independent taproom and brewery in Newcastle-upon-Tyne that is developing a reputation both at home and abroad for its unique brews, chilled vibes and collaborative approach. It was also founded and is headed up by a woman, so you know... what's not to love!
“Tyne Bank Brewery is the only place where you can relax and enjoy a pint whilst watching it being brewed.” says Julia Austin, owner of Tyne Bank Brewery, about the Victorian warehouse in which they are housed. The building is expansive: there is the tap room (front of house), where beer enthusiasts can enjoy said pint; the brewery itself, in eyeshot, with its steel vessels and passionate brewers milling around and, further away, space to store bottles, kegs, casks and the like. The unmistakable sound of the brewing process hums in the background; the air filled with the malty-sweet aroma of beer in-the-making.
The idea for Tyne Bank Brewery began brewing (pun intended) on a trip to Vancouver in 2005, where Austin experienced the magic of the craft beer scene. “There were lots of small, independent breweries serving beer onsite in taprooms by staff that fully enthused about the beer,” Austin recalls. “Their ales were packed full of flavour and aroma; it was a truly refreshing change from the UK scene.”
At the time, Austin was working for Arizona Chemical as a production manager, however, upon returning home, her mind was buzzing. “I said to John, my husband: ‘I’m a chemical engineer; beer is a chemical process. Wouldn’t it be nice to make something we liked?’” John bought Austin a couple of homebrew books for Christmas and “they sat around for ages.” The idea, of course, was in the back of Austin’s mind, fermenting if you like, but it was a good while before the books were put to use. “One day, John said to me: ‘Shall I just throw these books away or are you going to do something about it?’ So, I said, ‘Alright then, I’m going to do something about it!’” she laughs. “To be honest, if he hadn’t said that, we wouldn’t be where we are now.”
Arizona Chemical was going through some changes and, upon returning from maternity leave, Austin went from managing well over 100 people across two sites to managing 15. After another period of maternity leave spent fostering the plans for her own version of the breweries she so very loved in Vancouver, Austin was offered redundancy. At the same time, Hadrian & Border Brewery were moving out of their plant in Hawick Crescent – leaving an old, but perfectly functional, brewery in situ. “It just seemed like fate,” Austin says. And so, Tyne Bank Brewery was born.
“We started by brewing traditional favourites with a twist,” Austin says. “We came out with cherry stout; we worked with a coffee company to do Piccolo Black; we worked with Pumphrey’s to do Mocha Milk Stout. We brewed some really good beers and we innovated quite a lot within the craft beer scene.” With the aid of Pat Green, who helped steer Black Sheep Brewery to a turnover of £14m, Austin was able to grow her business to the next level. The original 3000sq feet building was becoming increasingly difficult to navigate. “It was like Tetris,” Austin remembers. “It was a bit of a nightmare but, in a way, it was a good problem to have because our success had led us to that point.”
It was clear that the business had come to the limitations of its building and Austin had a choice to make: “Do we just produce more of the profitable stuff and stay where we are or do we come back to the dream, of opening an onsite taproom alongside the brewery?” They went for it. And, after crowdfunding a staggering £214,000, plus an extra £91,000 grant from Let’s Grow, the brewery moved into the Walker Road premises we know and love today.
It was really important to Austin, for obvious reasons, to remain on the banks of the Tyne. Their location, on the edge of the Ouseburn area, has brought a whole host of beer enthusiasts, from creative-types to couples with baby-in-tow – thanks to the ever-popular Baby Social. “The beer we produce is made with a passion and a care for what’s inside; our ethos is ‘it’s what’s inside that counts,’” Austin tells me. “We really are a genuine, craft brewery. We try to make our beers as authentic as possible. So, if we’re making a Belgian beer that, traditionally, requires a certain syrup, we will source that syrup.”
Tyne Bank Brewery’s beers and ales can be enjoyed in a multitude of places, up and down the country. Austin has also recently won a contract with Mitchells & Butlers, which saw the brewery’s flagship, award-winning Silver Dollar being offered in Miller & Carter Steakhouses in Newcastle and Sunderland, as well as at Vintage Inn Pubs, The Brandling in Gosforth, the Victoria Comet and The Forth in Newcastle.
“Being involved in the brewing scene has given me the chance to start a business that, hopefully in time, will produce more jobs in the North East and bring brewing back to what it was in the City,” Austin says. At the rate Tyne Bank Brewery is growing, we have no doubt she’ll achieve just that.