Samuel Smith Brewery
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|Owner||Humphrey Smith, Oliver Smith|
Samuel Smith's Old Brewery, popularly known as Samuel Smith's or Sam Smith's, is an independent British brewery in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, England. It is Yorkshire's oldest brewery, founded in 1758.
The Old Brewery in Tadcaster, Yorkshire, in the North of England, was established in 1758. Samuel Smith, a successful butcher and cattle dealer from Meanwood, Leeds, funded his son John to buy it from the Hartley family in 1847. John Smith took over the brewery forming John Smith's Brewery, before moving his location next door. John Smith left the old building of John Smith's Brewery to his young nephew Samuel in 1886. In 1886 Samuel Smith opened the brewery Samuel Smith's Brewery under his own name.
The Old Brewery
The Old Brewery at Tadcaster was founded in 1758 and bears the name of local brewer Samuel Smith. It is both the oldest brewery in Yorkshire and the only surviving independent brewery in Tadcaster. The smallest of the three modern-day Tadcaster breweries, Sam Smith's is one of the few remaining British breweries to employ the traditional Yorkshire Square system in the production of its beers.
Brewing water for ales and stouts is still drawn from the original 85 ft (26 m) well, sunk when the site was established in 1758, and the yeast used in the fermentation process is of a strain that has been used continuously since approximately 1900 - one of the oldest unchanged strains in the country. In keeping with this sense of history and tradition, the brewery keeps a small team of dapple-grey shire horses. Rather than being show horses, they are among the last active dray horses in the world. They deliver beer around the town of Tadcaster five days a week. The brewery site has expanded over the years and is divided by Centre Lane. New Street separates it from the adjacent John Smith's Brewery.
Since discontinuing Museum Ale in the early 1990s, Sam Smith's have brewed only one cask beer, Old Brewery Bitter (OBB). This is unique in the British brewing industry, as most brewers will either produce a range of real ales or none at all.
They also produce a range of brewery-conditioned beers. All their beers, with the exception of the Old Brewery Bitter and Yorkshire Stingo, are vegan. In addition, most of Samuel Smith's beers — some notable exceptions being the Oatmeal Stout, Wheat Beer, Yorkshire Stingo, and Organic Cherry Fruit Beer — are brewed solely with malt, hops, yeast and water.
In the United States, Samuel Smith's bottled beers are imported by Merchant du Vin. In Norway, the beers are imported by Strag AS. The beers are also sold in certain places in Northern Ireland. Samuel Smith's Organic Cider is available in bottles, while Cider Reserve is sold on draught solely in the UK. The brewery offers two draught milds, Dark Mild and Light Mild. Most pubs will only offer one variant. The brewery used to produce a super strength Barley Wine called Strong Golden at 10.2%. A range of bottled fruit beers are available, flavoured with cherry, apricot or raspberry.
In recent years, the brewery have altered their product line-up, dispensing with Tadcaster Bitter but introducing Best Bitter. Best Bitter and Sovereign are the brewery's only keg bitters. They introduced Double Four in late 2013, a 4% strength lager aimed at providing a standard strength lager to bridge the gap between Alpine (2.8%) and Taddy Lager (4.5%). A wheat beer has been added to the draught product range, although few pubs stock it. Until 2006 Samuel Smith's used the brand name Ayingerbräu for its lagers and wheat beers, using the name and logo of German brewery, Brauerei Aying. The brand was best known for its 'man-in-a-box' pump for Ayingerbräu Lager, which featured a model Bavarian man inside a plastic box.
Ayingerbräu Lager gained a cult following in some parts of the UK and a beer drinking challenge is held annually. In 2006 Ayingerbräu Lager reverted to Alpine Lager, its original name in the 1960s. In late 2005 production of both the Ayingerbräu D Pils and Prinz Lager brands ceased. These have been replaced by Samuel Smith's Pure Brewed Lager. Later on the brewery swapped the strength of their brand names, with Alpine lager becoming 2.8% and Taddy becoming 4.5%. Pure Brew Lager and previously Ayingerbräu are served from a tall cylindric shaped pump which stands out from all the other keg product lines which are served from the standard small box shaped pump. Despite the cylindric pump being taller, the tap is still at bar level (modern taps are usually at eye level).
The brewery operates over 200 pubs, which are notable for their independence: The beers are all produced by the Tadcaster brewery and no large corporation spirits or soft drinks are available. In 2000, Samuel Smith's began phasing out the branding from their pubs, and in November 2004, the company took the decision to ban music in its pubs, which saves paying Performing Rights levy and can also offer welcome relief to customers irritated by piped music.
Samuel Smith's pubs are found in a variety of locations, including rural, suburban, inner-city and city-centre ones. There are over 20 pubs in central London. Irrespective of the location, the pubs are maintained in a traditional manner. Most pubs incorporate multiple bars and rooms, often with a spartan public bar and a more plush lounge. Samuel Smith's still delivers multiple-trip (re-usable) bottles in beer crates. In 2007 the company began to sell frozen meals made by Sarah Brownridge in their pubs. Then, in 2008, all franchise pubs were switched to 'company catering'. The brewery now have centrally determined set menus from which the individual pub can select offerings to create its menu. All portion sizes and serving practice are set by the brewery. Further to the company phasing out brands from their pubs, all pubs now sell Samuel Smith's branded crisps, Salted, Cheese and Onion, Salt and Vinegar and Roast Beef flavours are offered. Further to this, the company offers Salted, dry roasted or chili peanuts, pork scratchings or cheese biscuits, again all sold under the Samuel Smith's Old Brewery brand name. Samuel Smith's public houses are distinctive in their plain appearance with limited signage or artwork. Previously pubs could be noted by gold on black signage with the company logo, however the company have adopted a policy of not displaying the brewery name on their pubs.
Brown Hare, Harehills, Leeds
Fitzroy Tavern, London
Sun Inn, Long Marston, North Yorkshire
Railway Inn, Spofforth, North Yorkshire
Tankard Inn, Rufforth, North Yorkshire
Harewood Arms, Harewood, West Yorkshire
Old Star, Clifford, West Yorkshire
Crystal Palace, York
The GMB trade union has criticized the company for its treatment of pub managers, resulting in a number of court cases. Humphrey Smith has also pursued a number of planning application objections at the cost of Selby district council. In October 2010, it was reported that the brewery was taking legal action against Cropton Brewery over the use of the Yorkshire white rose design. Cropton Brewery released a beer named Yorkshire Warrior, celebrating the Yorkshire Regiment. The proceeds of the beer's sales go directly to the regimental benevolent fund for wounded soldiers. In a decision from the court, Cropton was ordered to remove the white rose emblem from their Yorkshire Warrior brand, but the judge criticized both breweries for taking the case so far through the legal system and not settling the issue sooner.
On New Year's Eve 2011, Humphrey Smith closed the Junction Inn in Royton because the landlords were dispensing too much beer in their pints and subsequently issued a retrospective surcharge of £10,733 for lost stock over a 12-year period. In January 2016, Samuel Smith's Old Brewery opposed the construction of a temporary bridge over the River Wharfe, which would allow residents to cross the town, which was divided following the collapse of the 300-year-old bridge, claiming that, at a cost of £300,000, it was "a waste of public money". In July 2017, Samuel Smith's Brewery banned motorcyclists from one of their pubs. Initially no explanation was offered for the ban. It was later reported that the ban was instituted to keep "undesirables" from patronizing the establishment. Local, long-term customers who were refused entry because they owned motorcycles, were offended by notion of being compared to criminal motorcycle gangs. The affected customers reportedly have no legal recourse as "bikers were not a "protected group" under the Equality Act."  In October 2017, the brewery issued a chain-wide ban on the use of profanity in its pubs. The "zero-tolerance" policy calls for employees to cut off service to customers who use offensive language. It was reported that this policy, along with recent bans of groups identified as "undesirable" or potentially "rowdy" due to certain types of clothing worn, is part of a "traditional, "uncompromisingly Victorian" aesthetic" that the brewery tries to maintain in its pubs, which includes a lack of music and televisions as well.
- Protz, R: The Ale Trail, page 135. Eric Dobby Publishing, 1995.
- Oliver, Garrett. 'The Brewmaster's Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food.' New York: HarperCollins, 2005. ISBN 978-0-06-000571-9. Retrieved 10 December 2011. p. 119
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- "VEGAN BEER & CIDER". Lists of certified vegan beers including Imperial Stout: Samuel Smith Brewery. Archived from the original on 14 January 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
Samuel Smith’s was the first brewery to register with The Vegan Society - we did so in January 1998.
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- "Samuel Smith launch legal action over Cropton Brewery's white rose beer branding". York Press. 5 October 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
- "Support brews for Army benevolent fund". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
- "Brewery launches beer in aid of Yorkshire regiment". Malton Mercury. April 2008. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
- "Result in beer war of the roses". York Press. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
- Tara Brady (30 January 2012). "Landlord threatened with sack for serving too full pints to regulars". Mail Online. Retrieved 25 March 2012.
- "Landowner 'blocks' temporary Tadcaster bridge plan". BBC News online. 11 January 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
- "Samuel Smiths brewery 'bans' bikers from Rotherham pub". BBC News online. 12 July 2017. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
- "village-pub-bans-bikers-after-10793299". mirror.co.uk. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
- "Samuel Smiths brewery 'bans' swearing from chain". BBC News online. 12 July 2017. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
- Oliver, Garrett. 'The Brewmaster's Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food.' New York: HarperCollins, 2005. ISBN 978-0-06-000571-9. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
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