Lancaster Brewery - Lancaster Red

Lancaster Brewery - Lancaster Red

Beer Club featured in International Beer Club U.S. & International Variety Beer Club



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Lancaster Brewery - Lancaster Red

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    Pint Glass or Mug
Lancaster describes this brew as a “ruby ale” and, you know, they’re right. This beer cuts quite a handsome figure in the glass, presenting an attractive reddish color with brilliant clarity and a soft cap of foam that drops some lacing as you drink. We found the aroma delicate but complex, with prominent fruity and somewhat floral overtones with a mildly sweet-smelling malt core. Look for notes of caramel, a touch of butterscotch, and a spicy, herbal quality with a hint of lemon. On the palate expect a great balance between mild caramel sweetness and mild hop bitterness, with notes of toasted grain and noticeable fruity esters that build on the mid-palate. There’s a very good development of spicy Goldings and First Gold hop flavor as the beer’s opening sweetness is dried out nicely on the finish. The brewery recommends pairing with Lancashire Hot Pot (a type of slow-cooked lamb dish), and Baked Zucchini; we would add Lancashire, or any other mild English cheese, to that list, along with fish and chips. Cheers!

Like most cities in England, Lancaster has a rich brewing tradition.  However, when Mitchells Brewery closed the doors of its 17th century brewhouse in 1999, the city was left without a local producer to call their own.  The city persisted in this unfortunate state until the Lancaster Brewery opened for business as the fruit of a partnership between Matt Jackson of the regional pub company C2 Investment Ltd; Keith Bott, owner/brewer of Stoke, England’s Titanic Brewery; and MWS Wholesale.  Brewing began in June of 2005, and soon they were producing two beers known as JSB and Duchy.

The brewery dodged a bullet just a few months later in October of 2005 when a fire in a building next door threatened to overtake their building, ruin their brewing equipment, and ultimately destroy the whole business.  While the building was damaged, they managed to complete repairs and begin brewing again in time for the busy Christmas and New Year’s season – a critical period for a fledgling brewery.  Over the next couple of years they expanded production and experimented with new recipes and business ideas, added twelve monthly “seasonal” beers, and ultimately went through a period of succeeding or failing at each of their various strategies, like most young businesses.

In November of 2007, C2 Investment decided to buy out the other partners and use what they had learned in Lancaster’s first two years in the brewing industry to perform a refurbishment of the brewery and a sort of relaunch of the business.  Under Matt Jackson’s guidance they brought in new brewing equipment and high-tech brewing software, built an on-site “Sample Room,” created new logos and packaging, and established new business relationships with pub operators and wholesalers across the UK.  As they are committed to traditional British cask ale, they bought many thousands of new casks, which they monitor using state-of-the-art software.  In addition, they made the bold decision to introduce a new beer lineup consisting of four beers named simply Red, Black, Amber, and Blonde, which have all gone on to win international awards.  They also adopted a single strain of house brewing yeast to provide consistency among all their beers (a common practice among brewers, which is sometimes responsible for providing a certain unique thread of flavor across many or all of a brewery’s beers).

After pausing production during the renovations, Lancaster began brewing again in February 2008.  The rebranding and retooling of the business seems to have paid off in spades as growth has been strong and the brewery has expanded its distribution – an impressive feat in the middle of a recession.  They’ve also introduced two ciders under their Red Rose Cider line. (The iconic red rose in their logo is an historic symbol of the House of Lancaster, whose various 15th century conflicts with the House of York, represented by a white rose, are known to us today as the Wars of the Roses.)

After all of the brewery consolidation that has occurred in recent years across the UK, we’re very, very excited for new, independent brewers when they’re able to not only survive but thrive.  Lancaster has done it by focusing on a small lineup of exceptional tasting beers with striking looks (both in and out of the bottle), brewed with a commitment to traditional brewing techniques while embracing modern technology to increase consistency, quality, and efficiency.  Cheers to that!  It’s our pleasure to bring you these beers, which currently have very limited distribution in the U.S.

For more info about the brewery, visit them at

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