Four months after its maiden voyage, Ilkley Brewery’s Scandinavian-inspired spruce beer, the Norseman, is set to embark on its second endeavour with listings in Nicholson’s and Castle pubs, both belonging of the Mitchells and Butlers brand.

From September through to November, the Norseman will be served in cask alongside other award-winning real ales and new-to-market brews which Nicholson’s and Castle pubs both celebrate.

In Leeds, the beer will be served in Nicholson’s pubs including the Victoria Hotel on Great George Street and the Palace on Kirkgate. It will also be on tap at the Adelphi, a Castle pub, on Hunslet Road.

The Norseman, which is a 5% ruby coloured ale, was originally brewed in collaboration with writer and beer sommelier Jane Peyton in spring this year. It is made using locally foraged pine needles along with Douglas fir needles and buds from Ilkley Moor. The beer features as part of the brewery’s Origins range which boasts beers that celebrate traditional methods and innovative brewing techniques from around the world.

Jane commented: “It’s so exciting that what was meant to be a one-off beer, has now been picked up by two large chains of pubs. Nicholson’s and Castle pubs have such an excellent selection of unusual and hard-to-find beers, it’s a real thrill that a beer I was involved in brewing with Ilkley Brewery, has intrigued the buyers at both pubs.

“I can’t wait to take my friends on a crawl of Nicholson’s and Castle pubs and make a big hole in the Norseman casks!”

Chris Ives, managing director of Ilkley Brewery, added: “With Jane’s expert palate and inspiring recipe ideas, we have managed to create a beer that not only stands alone as a fine seasonal ale but one which will now take to the Nicholson’s and Castle stage where its soft bitterness and fragrant pine and herbs notes will be enjoyed by a national audience.”

Meet the Brewer
On Thursday 3 October, Jane and the team from Ilkley Brewery will be hosting a Meet the Brewer evening at the Coal Hole (91 – 92 The Strand) in London where craft beer customers will have the opportunity to sample the Norseman and chat to its creators. The event will run from 17.00 to 20.00 and is open to the public.

Spruce beer heritage
It is believed that spruce beers were introduced to Britain by the Vikings and would have been drunk in Yorkshire, a region ruled by the Vikings in the 10th century. The beer was thought to give strength in battle, boost fertility and prevent scurvy.

In Viking culture, women were the brewers and by law, women owned the brew kit so if a marriage ended or a husband tried to sell his wife’s possessions, he could not take or sell the brew kit.

Haworth’s Brontë sisters were also known to make their own spruce beer, both as alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions, using pine needles sourced from the iconic moors that inspired Emily to write Wuthering Heights.

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