In a remote town in North Yorkshire, one of the UK’s most innovative, and fresh breweries resides. In Knaresborough, just a few miles west of York, Turning Point Brew Co. base their operations and taproom. Founded in 2017, the microbrewery has gone to strength to strength in just a few years, with a brewery tap in York City Centre and, following the move to Knaresborough, a strong taproom on location. This week the brewery are hosting their first virtual tasting session featuring four “New Frontier” beers featuring collaborations with Roosters, Siren, Thornbridge and Five Points. With now being a tough time for breweries, I caught up with co-owner Cam who answered a range of questions about Turning Point, the brewery scene and how they’re innovating to come through this time.
Let’s kick off with the name Turning Point, where did that come from?
We specifically wanted a name that was three syllables and was unambiguous in its pronunciation. No particularly fun story behind it other than Aron suggested it and we just rolled with it! We often joke that any of our beer names would make a better brewery name.
You say you have one mission “Brew our favourite beers, and have a good time” – of all your beers – which are your top two you’ve brewed and why?
Tough question, but in terms of enjoying the process, probably Chip Hazard. We were terrified to put out a super minty pale ale but it was such a relief to try the beer from tank and very satisfying to see it go down well. In terms of out and out top quality brewing I’d say Dreamcatcher; a fun brew and recipe to put together, with over a year of waiting for that beer to come out. Barrel ageing is a labour of love and we can’t wait to do more.
Prior to recent times, how have you found the move to Knaresborough and the reception to the taproom.
The people of Knaresborough and Harrogate have been nothing short of incredible. We’ve noticed it with so many people asking about the taproom, local bars stocking our beers much more, and most recently with the uptake on our web shop since the world melted. We feel really at home here.
And are there further plans to expand or are you settled right now?
Since deciding to up sticks to Knaresborough to now, I can say we have absolutely no plans to embark on a mission like that again any time soon. That being said, we’ve got a few more big tanks on order, so more beer coming once we’re back in business and the bars are open.
Being a York resident, taking over the Fossgate Tap was a welcome addition to the York scene, how have you found bringing your beers en-masse to the city?
It’s been great to be able to point people to a bar and know that they are going to get the full Turning Point experience. We’ve always loved being a part of the York beer scene but the tap gives us a special corner to call our own.
You only really have the one core beer Disco King – why haven’t you decided to instil a core range at Turning Point?
That was much more of a non-decision! We just started brewing and sussed it out brew by brew. Disco King was one of the first beers we launched with, and along with Lucid Dream, we’re still brewing it today. We didn’t want to pen ourselves in with a big core range that tries to be all things to all people. We’ve ended up with an American Pale ale with a good following: a beer we know like the back of our hand. The rest is ours to play with, and we do love to get as creative as possible. We do bring back a few of our favourites from time to time though!
It’s hard to ignore the impact the current situation is having on breweries, how has it affected you guys so far and what are you doing to help combat it?
Well, pubs/bars/wholesalers/importers stopped buying beer very suddenly, so of course it’s been a challenge. We’ve had to adapt quickly, rearrange any brewing/sales commitments and focus on getting our beers out to people in new ways. We are blessed with an amazing team of people who have adapted positively to new roles and we’re making the best outcome we can out of every day with a smile on our faces!
What’s the score with your virtual tasting night, what will that involve and what inspired you to try it?
We’ve got four collaborations (Thornbridge, Siren, 5 Points, Roosters), all for sale now. We’d planned some events for their release, but again had to come up with something for World 2.0, so are putting on a live tasting on April 2nd for anyone with all the beers to join us and enjoy along in real time. We are hoping that someone from each collaborating brewery can also join the fun. We’re aiming to recreate a bit of the silliness you can expect when we do a meet the brewer event. It should be a laugh!
The brewing industry really is thriving nationally right now, how can people continue to support it during this period?
I’d hesitate to say thriving personally and suggest that it’s adapting and proved how well rooted in their community breweries really are. For people nationwide to be turning out in droves to support their local brewer shows just how unique and wonderful this industry can be. That being said, it’s hard to overestimate the damage that this period can and will have on small breweries, all fighting to survive in what way suits them best.
When it all blows over, what new flavours and styles can we expect from Turning Point in 2019?
Man alive. We’re roaring to get back to it. Stouts. DIPA’s. Barrel ageing. You name it, we’ve got a recipe somewhere and will be bringing the dream back to life as soon as the world permits.
For those that haven’t tried your beer – what would you say makes it so special?
We put our EVERYTHING into every pint, and will never lose sight of that. Beer first. Chances are if you’re drinking one of our beers, we’d love to chew your ear off (metaphorically, see: social distancing) about how much we enjoyed bringing that beer to life.
Huge thanks to Cam for answering these questions, head to the website now and pick up some of their great collab beers! Find them right here.