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Old Chester ale brought back to life by brewing enthusiast

Obsolete beer recreated using recipe from more than a century ago

Brewhouse & Kitchen Chester's head brewer Matt Lloyd with John Murray in the basement of the pub. Picture: B&K Chester

A brewing enthusiast is bringing a long gone autumn ale back to life by following a 115-year-old recipe discovered at Cheshire Record Office.

John Murray, of Queen’s Park , Chester , is a data analyst by profession but his interests include a passion for real ale.

John’s research into the weighty records of the city’s former Northgate Brewery led him to recipes for beers much loved in their day but now defunct.

An ad for Northgate Brewery's Harvest Ale from the Cheshire Observer in 1902.

He previously brought the brewery’s Northgate Ale ‘back from dead’ in a joint venture with Waverton -based Spitting Feathers brewery.

His latest batch of Harvest Ale is being brewed in a copper within the basement of Brewhouse & Kitchen, Love Street, in a collaborative venture with head brewer Matt Lloyd.

John said: “We made the ale to the 1902 Northgate Harvest recipe from the record office. It’s now fermenting. It should be on tap on 21st September in the Brewhouse & Kitchen. Harvest Ale is a traditional autumn ale made from the freshly picked hops of the season and is rich and powerful in taste. Many brewers made them, some micro still do.”

Hop picking by Brewhouse & Kitchen staff from around the country. Picture: Peter Hughes.

John, a member of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) since 1978, has even unearthed an advert for the ale from the Chronicle’s now obsolete sister paper, the Cheshire Observer, from September 1902.

“I am not getting anything for it. It’s purely an interest/hobby as far as I am concerned,” explained John, whose previous brew, Northgate Ale, proved extremely popular.

He thanked Cheshire Record Office for their help with his research.

Chester Northgate Brewery was founded in 1760 at the Golden Falcon Hotel in Water Tower Street close to the Northgate. It was acquired by Greenall Whitley in 1949 and brewing ceased 20 years later. Demolition followed in the early 1970s.

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