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Forget sugary cocktails – local craft beer is where it’s at this Summer

With everything from tropical pale ales to chocolatey Porters and mojito lagers, here’s why Black Storm Brewery’s gluten-free beers should be your Summer sup

Written by Bridie Walker
Published 27.06.2021

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For County Durham-based brewers Black Storm, beer is more than a drink. It’s an opportunity to bring people together.

Whether you can pick out the hops from the crops and know your IPAs from your Pilsners, or you just use it as an excuse to catch up with your mates in the pub, beer is always the answer. Especially when you have a brewery as committed to inclusivity and accessibility as Black Storm is. Because the practice of beer drinking has been transformed in recent years. Gone are the days when beer was the pursuit of older men down the local, who protected their territory of a few generic pints-on-draught fiercely and surreptitiously.

 

Now beer has groove, it has meaning. It can cater to all tastes and occasions. Fancy some tropical, citrusy vibes? There’s an extra pale ale for that. Rich, chocolately beer more your style? Grab a Porter. Want to go wild with a mojito lager? Sorted.

And not only can tastes be catered to, but so can dietary requirements. Especially if you sup with Black Storm Brewery. Their core range of beer is now 100% gluten-free and vegan-friendly, as are many of their seasonal and special creations. So you might as well get rid of the notion that beer isn’t for you right now.

Sure, you’re thinking, sounds great – but what’s the likelihood of my local stocking this manna of the gods?! Well, it’s actually pretty high. Black Storm supply their beers to many of the most well-known independents and pub chains in the North East. But if you want to make sure you get your Black Storm fix next night out, why not head to their Tap Room? Right next door to where the magic happens in their brewery, they have a beer garden which can sit more than 200 people and play host to weekly Live Music nights.

We caught up with Black Storm Brewery founder Paul Hughes to chat all things beer, discover how Black Storm use their brewing powers for good by raising money for charity on the reg, get the lowdown on their super-size Summer Tour and even become the first to report on some breaking news…

So what’s Black Storm Brewery all about?

Black Storm Brewery is all about accessible craft beer. We brew something for everyone to enjoy – from a 4.1% Pilsner through to a 7.2% Double IPA, and lots in between.

We use #bringingpeopletogether as I firmly believe that beer is a great tool to break down barriers and just enjoy time with family, friends and colleagues.

What made you first decide to take the leap and open up your own brewery? 

Having started my career in leisure and hospitality, I took a career break and went back to university to undertake a Masters in Entrepreneurship. The brewery grew naturally out of this new professional experience – and, of course, my love of beer!

Why do you think there was that gap in the market for an independent brewery up here in the North East? 

When we launched Black Storm, there were around 1,500 breweries in the UK. Now we’re up to more than 3,000. The beer drinker is looking for choice and quality – and that’s exactly what we’re offering.

We hear you’ve got some pretty breaking news for us…

Yes! We’ve just announced the closure of our two independent taphouses, to allow us to focus purely on the development of even better, more innovative beers. The way we’re consuming beer is changing and we want to embrace that.

But keep watching this space, as more news will be coming out soon about some new exciting developments here at Black Storm. And in the meantime, you can still find us in our Tap Room at the Royal Quays Shopping Centre.

 

Your core range of beers are now all gluten-free. How important is it to Black Storm to make your beers as accessible as possible?

Our whole mission is to make craft beer as accessible as possible – it’s what we do.

All of our range (excluding some specials) are vegan-friendly and gluten-free. It’s important that any of our customers with certain dietary requirements aren’t restricted with which of our beers they can enjoy; we’re committed to making sure they can enjoy any and every Black Storm beer they want to.

You also release seasonal beers. What factors influence how and when you’re going to brew certain concoctions? 

We try to stick to seasonal classics: dark beers in Winter and lighter, fruitier beers in Spring and Summer. But mainly, it’s about having fun – both for us here in the brewery, and our consumers.

2021’s going to be a busy year for you, with more than 50 stops planned on your UK Summer tour! Why is getting out and about so important to Black Storm? 

We want as many people as possible to enjoy our beers, so getting out and about to meet them is vital. Oh, and the tour now exceeds 60 stops! But, again, it’s all about having fun – and touring with beer is definitely fun!

A big part of what Black Storm do is bring people together and this is most apparent with your Black Storm Collaborations. Can you tell us more about the idea behind this initiative?  

Every year, we bring together some brewing friends of ours from across the country to have some fun together, learn some new skills and make some amazing beers we wouldn’t normally make – such as a hibiscus berry and brut IPA.

This year’s project is almost complete, with all the profits being donated back to CALM – 12 beers, 13 brewers and one amazing box of crazy beers! We also bring along 12 artists to make the can work, so it’s a true collaboration in every sense of the word.

 

Which of Black Storm’s beers would you recommend for anyone who doesn’t usually drink beer? 

That’s an easy one – any one of our 4% blonde, biscuit or caramel flavours, all of which have lots of English hops.

And for more of a beer connoisseur? 

It’s got to be our Zombie Storm – 7.2% Double IPA, full of hop and flavour with a nice, citrus aftertaste.

 

 

What does the future look like for Black Storm? 

Busy! We’re just waiting for our new brewing kit, which will allow us to double our brewing capacity. Our new canning machine has just arrived too, so we now package on site. This allows us to control the quality of our beers much better – meaning only the very best beer reaches our customers.

As I mentioned earlier, the tour is going from strength to strength, as is the Tap Room, which will come into its own when our shiny, new brewing kit arrives and our customers can really get amongst it!

 

We also have the new collaboration box launching next month, along with five new beers which have been tested and signed off for late-Summer release. This, along with some other projects in the pipeline, means life is far from quiet – but that’s how we like it here at Black Storm!

Fancy a cold one? Yeah, us too. You can shop the whole Black Storm range, discover where they’ll be travelling to on their ’21 Summer Tour and find out all the latest Tap Room news on their website, Facebook page or Instagram 

Or pop down to their Tap Room and try out their beers for yourself, at Royal Quays Shopping Centre, North Shields, NE29 6DW

 

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