Rub on the Road: West & Stancill
By Joe Macbeth
If you’ve paid us a visit recently then i’m sure you’ve seen or been offered our new pride & joy; our fine selection of Rub Beers on draught. We spent a long few months talking to different breweries, building friendships, sampling beers until we ended up with two quality beers to call our own. It’s only the beginning of a long road for Rub with more beers, draught cider, wine, soft drinks and possibly a spirit in the future pipeline. We’re proud of our brand and i’m sure all you eccentric rubbers are too.
We built our two house beers around what all you lovely people were already drinking. Becks, Budweiser, Brooklyn & Sam Adams. We wanted two beers that could appeal to these taste profiles and we think we’ve nailed it. Firstly, we have our Rub Pilsner, a light anglo-germanic pilsner with roots linking back to the old brewing traditions of Barnsley Bitter. It’s essentially a pale lager with a bit more bite (a higher abv) and slightly more hoppiness. What we get is a light, refreshing beer with zesty citrus notes. If your cup of tea (or more aptly “pint of lager”) is a lager in the vein of Bud, Becks, Carling, Fosters, etc. Then the pilsner is similar in style but knocks all of them out of the park for flavour. It’s a quality, locally made product, that we highly recommend you try.
The second Rub Beer was chosen to tackle the mighty American powerhouses of Brooklyn & Sam Adams. We wanted an amber lager with a bit more body and flavour that could match and better the flavour profiles of those two American classics. We went with Rub Ruby Red Lager, an amber lager with rich, malty, caramel biscuitiness and a subtle hoppy finish. It’s a Scottish-Bavarian blend that follows the traditional brewing styles associated with the German Beer Purity Laws. It also has a lovely red hue which is so very Rub.
Now, we were lucky enough to not only have access to these great beers and to have them as our own, but also to be invited on VIP trips to the two breweries that were making them for us. Our first journey was up to Glasgow to the West Brewery. It’s a beautiful building built in the hollowed out remains of an old factory. The entrance to West is a beer garden decked out with benches for the summertime and astroturf grass (reminds of somewhere? Can’t think where…). As you step through the doors at West you’re hit with a wonderful bready smell. Two of the brewing tanks are open air and feed up into the restaurant & bar that acts at the entrance to West. You can smell the lovely blends of grains, yeast and water fermenting below, varying depending on what particular batch is on the go that day.
The restaurant & bar is an old school bavarian tavern with lovely wooden decor and big open windows that flood the room with light. We sat down with Petra, the madcap and brilliant brewery owner, as she explained the plans for the day and the party in the evening. We were treated to a selection of West beers including their new “Party Pils-ner” and our choices from their wide range of beers. All paired with a wonderful lunch from their bavarian food menu. I went for the german-style potato pancakes with apple sauce, delicious authentic german pretzels and a big slice of wiener schnitzel. It was delicious and went really well with my german wheat beer.
Once we were well fed, Simon, one of the brewery’s extremely knowledgeable brewers, grabbed us for a crash course in brewing lager. In particular “batch 28” which would go onto be “Rub Ruby Red Lager”. We went into the milling room and Simon talked us through the various grains they use to make their beers and let us try them as well. It was shocking how much flavour, bitterness, sweetness, etc was packed into every little grain. Our Ruby Red is a blend of four grains, one in particular, the Caramac grain imparts it’s red hue and bitter caramel notes. Lucas and Sean got stuck in and milled the grains down and we carried them over to the brewing tanks to get chucked in with some of that lovely Glaswegian soft water, German & American hops and yeast. The mix was churned thoroughly as the heat was applied and we moved back upstairs leaving the beer to brew.
Our evening festivities kicked off at 7pm with a party in the newest part of the brewery. The West brand is growing fast and they’ve taken over the lot next door to put in several new grain stores and brewing tanks. Their output is about to grow significantly. Upstairs they had rapidly put together a party hall for a VIP event involving 400 friends of the brewery. There was a pop-up bar with “unlimited” free West beer and german pretzels, and a bandstand for the night’s headline act “Go West”. I drank my way through the wide range of beers and ate many, many pretzels. They were absolutely delicious and I want them in my life full-time. The band came on and Sean, Jason and Lucas danced the night away with much beer and the lovely company of Petra. We’ve formed a great partnership that i’m sure will continue to build in the coming years. The last thing I tried before I called for a taxi and hit my hotel room was a new micro-brew, tailored for our visit to the brewery, a smoked lager. It was rich and smokey and opened a door to a whole new range of rub beers that may be on the horizon.
Our second trip involved hitting the road up to South Yorkshire and to the Stancill Brewery in Sheffield. Lucas and I took along Abi, our lovely Nottingham bar manager, and Luke, an Assistant Manager from our Birmingham venue. The brewery is tucked away on a hillside overlooking the Sheffield city centre. It’s a big industrial warehouse that really fits with the city’s steel industry history. The brewery was set up by two young entrepreneurs Tom and Adam who discovered that the Barnsley Oakwell brewery was shutting down and that all their recipes were due to be lost to time and that their old tanks and equipment were up for scrap. Stepping in, they purchased the old equipment and relocated the brewery to Sheffield under the name Stancill. Starting almost from scratch, learning as they went, armed with some old recipes and the helping hand of one of the old breweries key staff, they set about creating some lovely Sheffield cask ales and most recently a Pilsner. We were shown around the brewery’s wide open set-up. The tanks, grain, keggers, were all in a wide-open warehouse setting. We stepped up the ladders and opened up a few of the tanks to take in the aromas coming off them. I also got to grab a bag of hops and add it to our batch of Pilsner. It’s a really, nice authentic set-up which despite only operating for just over two years, is putting out a phenomenal amount of quality beer.
We’ve got plenty more exciting projects on the horizon so keep up with our blogs to find out more. And next time you find yourself at Rub, settle down into your feasting session with a nice, cold pint of Rub beer.