HISTORY OF THE BREWERY AND ITS BEERS
Firebrick Brewery Ltd. is on Cowen Road, which is named after Joseph Cowen Junior, MP for Newcastle in the late 19th Century; he was quite a character and a global political figure in his time. His father Joseph Cowen Senior was also an MP and was knighted for his work on the Tyne Commission, improving that river for industrial shipping. Their Blaydon brickworks exported Firebricks around the world and you can read more about all that here…
In summary then: Good blokes who made good bricks and tried to improve the quality of life for people in general – that seemed like a good theme to link our beer to!
Our first beer was brewed in January 2013 and Blaydon Brick a 3.8% ABV golden ordinary bitter made its way into a handful of local pubs. Coalface a 3.9% ABV dark mild followed. Elder Statesman a 4.5% ABV best bitter was next and in August 2013 Tyne 9 a black cask lager celebrating Newcastle United Football Club’s renowned centre forward shirt number, was launched at the iconic Strawberry pub opposite NUFC’s St James’ Park.
The first seasonal beer Tormit Heed (turnip head) was brewed as an autumn ale and that launched the Firebrick Mystical Range. We asked American illustrator Wylie Beckert for use of her fabulous artwork “The Turnip Keepers Lantern” to illustrate that beer and then commissioned her to do the rest of the range, we love the result and hope you enjoy it too.
A superb new 15 barrel (barrel = 36 gallons) brew plant was ordered from Malrex specialist brewery manufacturers from Burton on Trent at the end of 2013 and the brewery expanded into the industrial unit next door during the first two months of 2014. The first gyle produced on that plant was Blaydon Brick on 23rd March 2014.
(The original 2.5 barrel brew plant which was rented, was kept for a while to brew seasonal and special brews but was moved and moth-balled when two new 17 barrel fermentation vessels were bought and installed in 2015. (read – link to cheers article)
Firebrick introduced new world hops into its Heritage range with the introduction of Stella Spark (American West Coast hops) in May 2014 and Trade Star (New Zealand hops) in August 2014. The unusual combination of traditional “British” strength ABV and IPA style end hopping for flavour has ensured the popularity of these originally experimental beers, now permanent within our Heritage Range.
The Mystical Range was extended with Fireglow (Winter) in November 2014 and Pagan Queen (Spring) in March 2015 – Pagan Queen was originally brewed to coincide with the Newcastle and Tyneside 2015 CAMRA beer festival which required local submissions to contain all British ingredients, and a British name. English hop “Boadicea” gave us the name and it sold out in day two of the festival. It is now our most popular cask ale beating Blaydon Brick into second place.
We were never comfortable with the idea of a famous, locally named, brown ale; originally brewed in Newcastle, then in Gateshead; now being brewed in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire. So in an attempt to re-dress the balance we introduced Toon Broon – a Newcastle brown ale – to our Heritage line up in September 2015. It was well received and is now one of our core beers.
Heatwave our vanilla-bean infused Summer beer, completing the missing season in our Mystical Range was brewed in March 2016.
in January 2017 our full IPA at 5.5% ABV was brewed. “Whey Aye P.A.” was an idea of assistant Brewer Michael Brown who named it and collaborated on the recipe. We like everything about it and look to it being a permanent addition to our heritage range.
We started bottling our beers in early 2015 and introduced them in keg in mid 2016.