Based in Acaster Malbis just south of York, Ainsty Ales is a world apart from your mental picture of a microbrewery. Far from being a soulless industrial space, the brewery is based on a farm in the middle of picturesque, rolling Yorkshire countryside.
The feel of it suits its owner and 'general dogsbody' well: Andy Herrington is a local lad born and bred, and proud of the community he’s part of. His goal for Ainsty Ales is not only to provide a great range of craft ales, but also to support local businesses, local charities & the local economy. The perfect example of this is ‘Coptoberfest’, an annual charity beer festival in Copmanthorpe organized jointly by Ainsty Ales and the local St. Giles Church; for Ainsty, it’s as much about the drinkers as the drink.
Today on the Brewtown blog, we’re sitting down for a chat with Andy and talking inspiration, desert island beers, growing hops and what’s next on the cards…
I think it’s important to get a flavour of life experiences, especially if you plan to set up your own business. It was important to me to have some good and trusted contacts to help me along the way, and fortunately my journey up to this point had helped me to find some great support, from publicans to accountants in the York area . Having this variety of local connections made the decision to launch Ainsty Ales on my own that bit easier.
The advice I’d give to anybody wanting to become a brewer would be to gain some experience at another brewery first so you know exactly what it entails. I’d volunteered a lot at Brass Castle Brewery in Malton, and at the same time studied to become a brewer, so I knew what I was getting myself into. Find yourself plenty of opportunities to study the fundamentals, but most of all be passionate about the product – if you don’t love beer, you can’t love brewing.
The ‘York & Ainsty Wapentake’ dates back to the 1200s and is a geographical area directly to the West of York. I spend the first 25 years of my life in the Acomb area of York; back when it was a village it was the ‘capital’, if you like, of the Wapentake.
Why did I choose it as a name for the brewery? Firstly, I’m a very proud ‘Yorkie’: I’m very passionate about where I’ve grown up and still live now, about its people, history and values. Secondly, having studied marketing I was keen to build a good local connection around Ainsty Ales, whist at the same time ensuring the brand-image was attractive and different.
Coptoberfest first came about four years ago. I know Geoff Mumford, the vicar at St. Giles Church, very well; he also happens to be a big real ale fan and is a very active member of the York CAMRA branch.
Geoff and I spoke about setting up a beer festival inside St. Giles Church to coincide with the launching of Ainsty Ales Brewery. I was keen to welcome more people into the church by putting on a great community event for the village, as well as creating the perfect occasion to raise as much money as possible for local charities and groups. It’s a great annual festival and we’re proud to be involved with it - we ticked all the boxes we hoped to achieve with it, and will continue to do so each year!
Our 4.0% abv. blonde and 4.2% golden ales were the first two cask ales in our range when Ainsty Ales launched three years ago. I wanted to follow the alliteration used in the company name in my first two ales, as well as tying them to the Ainsty background. ‘Flummoxed’ and ‘Wankled’ are two typical and old-fashioned Yorkshire terms (with the latter being a little tongue in cheek!), while ‘Farmer’ and ‘Waggoner’ are two typical jobs you’d have found in the old Ainsty area… simple!
Our brewing style is authentic and traditional with a modern twist!
What’s next for Ainsty Ales – anything exciting we should be looking out for?
We’re just about to shake up our core range as well as our seasonal specials. This will include the introduction of four new cask ales, one of which will be a charity ale. We’re also welcoming our first kegged ale to the range, as well as planning to release two canned ales before autumn!
My desert island beer would definitely be a cool craft lager, something packed with flavour and around 6% abv!