Published on November 10, 2016 | by Alastair Gilmour0
A revolution built on bricks
Firebrick Brewery’s first beer was brewed in January 2013 in the form of Blaydon Brick (3.8% abv). It was the nickname of Joseph Cowen, radical 19th Century politician and member of parliament who identified himself with the North East mining community. He was involved with his father’s brick business, and at various points a journalist, owner of the Newcastle Daily Chronicle, and friend of and sympathiser to Irish and Italian revolutionaries.
“Joseph Cowen campaigned against slavery and for the rights of women, so the name was something to hang our hat on,” says Firebrick owner Alistair Lawrence. “Good blokes who made good bricks and tried to improve the quality of life for people in general – that seemed like a good theme to link our beer to.”
Firebrick expanded into a second unit after only a year of operation and is now a 15-barrel brewery.
“I designed everything to make it easy for a one-man operation with gravity feed from the hopper,” says Alistair. “Now there are five of us and I’ve had my first family holiday in four years.”
Firebrick beers can be found extensively in the North East, particularly in Newcastle where Tyne 9 Dark Lager (3.9% abv) is particularly popular (The Strawberry, Trent House, Union Rooms and Mile Castle), given its association with the famous Newcastle United centre-forward’s shirt.
Firebrick’s Mystical Range imagery features illustrations by American artist Wylie Beckert. Alistair says: “I liked what she did and thought they would fit in with our Mystical range of beers. I now have an arrangement with her, keeping the continuity of the brand.
“When we took Pagan Queen to the Newcastle Beer Festival last year it sold out by the second day. It’s now our best seller, just ahead of Blaydon Brick.”
A revolution in beer, you might say.
An extensive portfolio split between the Heritage Range and the Mystical Range (one for each of the four seasons). Blaydon Brick (3.8% abv) is an easy-drinking golden ale, Elder Statesman (4.5% abv) is a dark amber premium bitter and Toon Broon (4.6% abv) is a Northern-style brown ale with malt and liquorice on the nose.
Pagan Queen (4.0% abv), blonde beer (pictured above), originally a spring seasonal, is now a permanent, while Heatwave (4.2% abv) and Tormit Heed (4.4% abv) represent summer and autumn while Fireglow (4.3% abv) brings the year up to date.