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Empire Brewing

Unit 33, The Old Boiler House, Upper Mills, Canal Side, Slaithwaite, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire HD7 5AS Tel: 01484 847343

visited by Wakefield CAMRA, Saturday 20 February 2010


Empire Brewing

Brewing first started in a garage behind a Punch Taverns pub, The Fieldhead at Quarmby, Huddersfield where brewery proprietor Russ Beverley was the lessee. When the Pub Company found out, Russ was given an ultimatum whereby if he didn't stop brewing his lease would not be renewed. So when the lease came to its end, Russ took the heroic course and moved his brewing operation to the redundant boiler house of a textile mill adjacent to the Huddersfield Narrow Canal at Slaithwaite. 

Russ (left) is the son of a welder and his own son is also a skilled fabricator and made the brewery's unique grist hopper. It's a 5-barrel plant where most of the vessels have been re-fabricated from a job-lot of second-hand cellar tanks bought cheap in Middlesbrough, re-welded as necessary. All the seams on the vessels give them a Jules Verne feel. Before Russ made a front hatch on the copper he used to climb in through the top for cleaning! It's basically a 1.1 man (and his dog) operation, the 0.1 being Johnny the landlord of the nearby Commercial Inn who does a Monday morning on telesales. Brewing takes place 3-4 times a week

Exterior shot of the brewery taken from bridge over Huddersfield Narrow Canal. Regular beers include Strikes Back (above) which celebrates a victory blow against Mr Punch and his Taverns! We were able to sample Golden Warrior a 3.8% golden hoppy beer. Commerciale at 3.8% a pale gold hoppy beer, very flavoursome for its strength is the house beer for the nearby Commercial where it's part of a ten pump line-up. "Why do I need to run a beer festival here?" says landlord Johnny. Moonraker Mild, which celebrates the local tale is brewed every three or four weeks so should be available from cool store all the time. As you'd expect from a brewery called Empire many beers have a traditional patriotic theme.

More pictures of this brewery at higher resolution plus the canal nearby and The Commercial at Slaithwaite (unofficial brewery tap) can be seen on this PicasaWeb Album.