A Yorkshire brewery which started out 10 years ago is becoming “Wold famous”.
Wold Top Brewery, based in a stunning location at Hunmanby Grange, is a local business in every sense of the word.
But its beers are now being sold in Italy, Norway, Sweden, Canada and Ireland.
And owners Gill and Tom Mellor are in talks at the moment about their beer being brewed under licence in America.
Not bad for a brewery which just a decade ago was starting out from scratch.
The family have farmed the same land for generations, but Tom and Gill were aware of the need to diversify.
Gill said: “At that stage, farming had taken a massive drop.
“We were looking at what we could do to increase the income of the farm and what we do best up here.
“We’re one of Europe’s best areas for growing malting barley and we’ve got two boreholes on the farm, which are a source of pure, good tasting water.
“We thought ‘water and barley – what do they make’?”
After working with York-based consultant David Smith, who is still involved in the business today, the Mellors and their friends Derek and Katrina Gray set up what was to become one of the most successful micro breweries in the area.
One of just 200 in the country when it began, there are now that number in Yorkshire alone, with 1,200 nationwide.
The Grays left in 2006 to pursue other business interests and the Mellors ploughed their efforts into building up the brewery, while still running their arable farm. Tom said: “We grew quite slowly at first.
“With our backs to the coast, there was only so far we could go east.”
Gill added: “Unfortunately the fish in the North Sea don’t drink beer!”
But with a growing audience enjoying their products, Wold Top’s delivery area for cask beers has stretched to cover a triangular patch from Runswick Bay in the north, to York in the west and Hull in the south.
The pair started with a small bottling machine that just did 200 bottles an hour and got “everyone covered in beer”, according to Gill.
With demand growing, they put in a bottling line in 2007 that handles 2,000 bottles an hour.
Wold Top now bottles its beer every day and will fill over a million bottles this year, also bottling for other companies.
Many bottles of Wold Top beer are enjoyed locally, but more and more are becoming destined for abroad, with export levels currently at 12 per cent. Gill said: “I’ve had some very interesting pictures from people on holiday in Italy saying ‘look what I’ve found!’” But as well as sharing their beer with a wider audience, the couple are keen to preserve what they have on their doorstep.
Gill said: “Because of where we live, we work really hard on our green credentials.
“The Wolds are beautiful and we want to keep them as beautiful as we can.” All the brewery’s electricity comes from two wind turbines, which were installed in 2011.
Waste water is filtered through a reed bed and spent grains are picked up in a trailer by a local farmer and fed to his cows.
Another motivation is that the family is now on its fourth generation working on the same farm and they want to ensure it is preserved for generations to come.
Many members of staff have also been there since the early days and have a real sense of ownership when it comes to the brewery, says Gill.
But it has become about more than just beer, with the venue being used for music festivals and weddings.
This year has 14 wedding bookings already in place, with the diary now being filled up for 2015.
Gill says she is also thrilled that they have been taking part in the national Open Gardens scheme, as she has a background in horticulture.
Links have been forged with music, art and community events, with Wold Top beer served at everything from Scarborough’s Acoustic Gathering to David Hockney’s recent exhibition at the Royal Academy in London.
Wold Gold is now stocked in 91 Sainsbury’s stores across Yorkshire, and has even been spotted in a garden centre in Milton Keynes by Gill’s mum and dad.
Although they have become brewers through and through, Gill and Tom are still farming, which they say is an integral part of what they do. But with the brewery taking off so well, they are undoubtedly on top of the “Wold”.