Published on June 5, 2018 | by Alastair Gilmour


By the river we babble on

On a recent visit to Wylam Brewery, we find Adam Lyle, lead brewer from Northern Monk in Leeds, just completing his brewery’s contribution to the Northern Powerhouse collaboration. It’s number eight of eight beers to be revealed in a special box on June 22 for the opening of the Great Exhibition of the North, a summer-long celebration of the North of England’s pioneering spirit.

Brewing eight beers in collaboration with others on a single site has not been without its challenges, however. Wylam Brewery brewer Lee Howarth says: “We’ve sent out three beers for canning and the rest are conditioning – five tanks taken up uses a lot of production space.”

As if this wasn’t a big enough project, Wylam directors Dave Stone and Rob Cameron have developed By The River Brew Co, a hugely ambitious project that will transform Hillside Quays in Gateshead (under the Tyne Bridge) for the foreseeable future.

“By The River is not a Wylam project,” says Dave Stone. “It’s the next development in what Rob and I do together. We’re installing a 15-barrel brewery which will sell its beers mainly on site through a brewery tap and restaurant. It’s a creative container community that will last for four years – one of the legacies of the Great Exhibition and something to celebrate after the event.”

And, if you think that being able to track the delivery a pair of trainers from online store to warehouse to national depot to regional depot to courier to the instruction “if not in, place in blue bin” is clever technology, think on that the same rules apply with a full brew kit being shipped from the United States.

Dave Stone swivels his laptop around, homes in and homes in on a map of the world until eventually the Atlantic Ocean appears like a maritime motorway with hundreds of ships criss-crossing the vastness.

“See that one there,” he says, pointing to a ship-shaped symbol about a third of the way across. “That’s ours with a full brewery on board.”

By this magazine’s print slot, the ship-shape will have reached Rotterdam ready for its final trunking to Gateshead.

By The River will also feature the Backyard Bike Shop relocated from the Ouseburn and Träkol restaurant with an open-fire kitchen producing fiercely seasonal nose-to-tail cooking using only British rare and heritage breeds. It’s basically bringing primitive outdoor cooking indoors.

The brewery taproom will have 20 keg lines; there’s a coffee shop and cocktail bar in the plan as well as a Hawker Market – pioneering street food traders and other market activities over weekends which will be a great base for local producers.

The By The River development is well under way. In the understatement of understatements, Dave Stone says: “We’ve been batting ideas about.”

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Alastair Gilmour

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