With the recent proliferation of new breweries in the last few years, it’s been a great time to be a drinker with plenty of new brews to try. What’s it been like from a brewer’s perspective? Continuing our series of hearing from brewers in their own words, Ross Holland from Box Social Brewing tells us how he originally got into beer, the route into setting up the brewery and how his tastes have influenced the kind of beers they create.
“Box Social Brewing is a family owned and run brewery started by myself – Ross Holland – and my dad Steve Holland. We wanted to create small batch beers with emphasis on quality over quantity and believe our six barrel brew kit allows us to do so.
I initially got into beer after taking a trip to Paris five years ago and stumbling upon a brew pub. In this pub you could see the entire brew kit and watch the brewing process whilst sipping a beer brewed in-house. There was no Carlsberg, no Fosters and no Stella in sight, which I found bizarre. That got me hooked, and as soon as I returned home I began seeking out new and obscure beers.
We’d been toying with the idea of opening a brewery or brewpub for quite a while. The site we have settled on in Newburn has a fantastic yard that gets the sun (when it makes an appearance) all day. We hope to open a little tasting room there so people can come and see us brew, and sample our wares.
I’m a fan of anything a bit different when it comes to beer. I’m a big lover of hops, so IPAs and American Pales are right up my street. I also love my dark beers. We’ve created an India Brown Ale which i feel has the best of both worlds: a great malt bill and a hop kick to finish. Gentleman’s Nectar, our American Style Pale Ale, is a big tropical fruit bomb of a beer, yet very drinkable at 4.2%. We’re also working on a 3.8% mild brewed with all Centennial hops, inspired by a good friend of mine. We like to take traditional beer styles and give them a modern twist.
Over the past four to five years Newcastle has gone from having hardly any decent beer bars to having one of the best beer scenes in the UK. There’re some great new breweries popping up here too, and I see this as a positive. The beer community is very friendly in the North East, and other brewers seem more than happy to help the new guys on the block, which we really appreciate. The support from the local beer drinkers has been great too.
As a music lover, I would still like to see some of the bigger music venues adopting a few nicer beers, whether this be in bottle, can or keg. I’m much more likely to part with £5 for a pint if it’s good beer. I’m hoping this will be the next step not just in the North East, but across the UK.
As for where we’re headed, we’ll be hitting most North East beer festivals, and are launching officially on May 15 at the Crown Posada with three cask beers and one keg. Following that, our beer will be landing in all good pubs and bars in the North.”