Beer Revere: North Union Brewing
Exposed’s beer blogger Jules Gray caught up with Iain Kenny, head honcho and brewer at Sheffield’s latest brewery, North Union Brewing Co, to find out more from this intriguing new outfit.
Tell us a little about your new brewery North Union Brewing – where are you based, what’s your background and what made you start up the business?
Currently North Union is a one man band. I have been in the beer business for as long as I remember, I have a degree in brewing and distilling and I was previously head brewer at Kelham Island. I set up North Union because whilst there are a lot of great cask ale brewers in the Sheffield area, there didn’t seem to be anyone producing more modern craft beer in bottle or keg. This was an area that was becoming increasingly exciting to me so I decided to go for it. North Union is about producing exciting, quality craft beer with vivid flavours. I currently cuckoo brew with friends at nearby Harthill Village brewery and our first range of bottled beer is available now.
What beers have you brewed, tell us a little about the beer styles and tasting notes?
The first three beers available are Amber lager, Pale Ale and Dubbel. The Amber lager is a cold matured craft lager with a fine balance of malt sweetness and fresh dry hop aroma with a smooth finish. The Pale ale is packed with resinous hop aromas with a really exuberant aroma of tropical fruits, definitely one for Hopheads! I really enjoy travelling and searching out beer flavours and styles. I have a love of Belgian beers and managed to source some Belgian Ale yeast to produce Dubbel – a dark ale with spicy, caramel and dark fruit aromas.
Can you share a little background as to your choice of label design ideas – there’s a real succinct flow to all your packaging and posters?
Eye catching and exciting design is a large part of North Union. It is really important to help our beers stand out and I work very closely with We Are Fine design agency to really help with this. It is very important to have a consistent feel and accent to everything North Union does and from the feedback we are getting from our customers we have hit the mark with this so far.
What are your key plans for the future (let’s say next 6-12 months)?
The number one priority for North Union at the moment is sourcing premises for our own brewery near to the centre of Sheffield. A really important part of the plan is to have a small sample room / taphouse to be able to really showcase our beers and to be able to offer brewery tours and beer tastings. There are also plans to bring out a first range of keg beer and a new IPA bottled beer coming soon! Oh yeah and a couple of members of staff would be good!
We’ve got to ask, when you’re not drinking North Union what’s your favourite go to beer at the moment?
One of the best aspects of being a one man band is that being responsible for sales calls and deliveries I visit lots of brilliant craft beer bars and stores which opens my eyes to lots of great, exciting beers and producers. I really enjoy strong hoppy beers although I recently tried a very hoppy 3% beer from Magic Rock which was delicious. I also regularly enjoy Pauwel Kwak which is a brilliant Belgian ale and I like some American beers such as Odell Brewing Co and Stone Brewing Co.
I noticed on your bottle labels you suggest a food pairing. Can you share a little info behind the decision to do this? (and your top beer and NU match)
I am a great advocate of matching beer with food. When matched right the flavour of the food and the beer can really be enhanced with clever pairing. A large proportion of beer is consumed with food and I am really passionate about ensuring that people really enjoy the experience of drinking North Union so every effort has been made to make this drink as special as possible and part of this can be food. Amber lager is a perfect barbecue and burger beer whilst Pale Ale has enough of a hoppy punch to stand up well to spicy foods like curries. My favourite match is North Union Dubbel with a quality, strong, dark chocolate. The malt sweetness of the beer cuts through the bitterness of the chocolate and the chocolate enhances the dark fruit flavours from the beer, a really quick and easy one to try!
Have you any events planned?
As part of the launch of our new IPA this summer, I will be popping up in a few places doing some tastings and meet the producer sessions. When we find a home and get settled in there will be a celebration event. Keep checking out our twitter and facebook for more information and announcements.