The Brewery

Brewers of cask, keg and bottle-conditioned beer. Here at Durham Brewery our philosophy is simple. Beer is special; beer is interesting and although we have been continually creating award winning beers since 1994, we never get tired of experimenting.

We are masters of our craft and this can be tasted in every mouthful. It’s not just beer; it’s our passion, our art and our constant challenge to keep on innovating and adapting to the ever-changing market. We keep all aspects of production in-house so that we can be sure the finished beer is of the highest standard.

Producing mouth-watering original Beers since 1994, Durham Brewery is one of the oldest and most established breweries in the North East of England.
Co-founder Steve Gibbs started brewing as a hobby at the age of 20 but over the next 20 years it became much more to him. His dream of starting his own brewery was realised in 1994 with the help of his wife Christine. Both were full time music teachers for the first year of trading. Having a natural talent and flair for all things hoppy, they laid down their musical instruments and invested all their time and money into making ground breaking beer.  The brewery went from strength to strength, employing a brewer, drayman (Craig Warburton, who is still part of the team today and the smiling face of the Durham Brewery) and then Christine’s daughter Elly joined in 2003 to assist with sales and accounts. Steve’s unending quest for perfection speaks volumes and can be seen by our local, national and international awards.

Fast forward to 2020 and after over 25 years at the company Steve and Christine have handed over the reigns to Elly.  We now employ eight staff who are all dedicated to the cause of bringing great beers to discerning drinkers. Elly has been preparing the brewery for its next phase despite it being a difficult year for the brewing industry.  She has been formulating recipes alongside Steve for the last few years and is now taking on the role of head brewer.  Diane Myers joined the team in February 2020 with a huge amount of experience in cask sales. Her expertise and customer service skills are unrivalled. Will Daniels joined the team back in 2016 as assistant brewer and has become an accomplished brewer in his own rights.  Seb Di Gatto joined in 2021 to raise the brewery’s profile through social media and also assists in the shop and office.

Most of our bottles are bottle-conditioned and we take great care over every step of production, bottling in-house. We have become known for our love of high alcohol beers using traditional methods from the UK and further afield. Temptation is perhaps our best known and most revered beer.  It is a 10% Imperial Russian Stout, a style popular in the 19th Century in the courts of Catherine the Great and now seeing a resurgence in popularity.  We have also began a barrel-aging programme.  Using ex whisky, rum, bourbon and wine casks to mature our beers before bottling. At the other end of the beer spectrum we have our best selling pale ale Magus which is one of our original cask beers. Magus was one of the first of its kind in the United Kingdom using American hops over a pale malt base.  Our Cask-conditioning is at its best by not tank-conditioning. We allow our lager, Helles, a full two months to mature naturally before kegging without filtration.

We are forever coming up with new ideas and techniques, plus planned improvements to the plant and you can expect to see more exciting beers emerging over the next few years.  Elly is steering us towards new horizons with the expertise of her perfectly formed team behind her.

Visit us at our onsite brewery shop.

History
We’ve come a long way from where we started but our business and brewing ethos remains the same. We headed into this venture in August 1994 with a passion and curiosity for beer that remains all these years later. The beer market is exciting; constantly changing with consumer tastes becoming more discerning and adventurous.Founders Christine and Steve Gibbs were still full-time music teachers for the first year; brewing, selling and delivering in any spare time. We were the new kids on the block and one of the pioneers of pale ales using new varieties of hops from the states. The beers were explorations of many hop varieties over a pale malt base and were an instant success.The original 5 barrel plant was sold and a new 10 barrel plant was installed in new premises in 1999.Steve continued to explore beer styles and found he had a particular fondness for higher strength Belgian styles. To allow him to experiment more we began making bottle-conditioned beers in 2000 with “Millennium City” in celebration of Durham’s one thousand years. This beer became known as St Cuthbert. An adventurous bottle range is now available from the lightest 3.8% to the darkest 12%. There’s something to suit everyone!
In 2011 we opened our shop and bar with full on-license directly opposite the brewery. Drinkers can enjoy beer at source and we now hold brewery tours on Saturdays.
2016 sees the start of our barrel aging programme. An exciting process which allows some of our stronger beers maturation time in ex whisky casks. Imperious, Redemption and Diabolus plus our Oak Aged IPA are examples of the stunning results of this.
2017 saw more re-investment in the brewery with a new automated bottling machine. A six bottle filler and capper with in-line labelling speeds up a process that used to be pretty much all by hand.
2018 we decided it was time for a refresh of the brand. The old brand had been designed by Christine and had served us well for 24 years. In 1994 we needed to look well-established so borrowed from the tradition and history of Durham, using the Cuthbert’s Cross in our logo. Christine designed our own uncial font to compliment this. It was a beautiful design but the emphasis was on tradition rather than representing the innovation of our brewery. A local design company Blumilk brought to life our vision for a brand image that truly represented what we are today. A nod to the history of the area with a stylized version of the cathedral rose window and a structured feel of balance and quality. The new website followed in 2019 creating a more user-friendly ecommerce experience.
2019 Steve continues to experiment using his new test brew facilities. This allows him to have some real fun with extreme and unusual ingredients without risk. We’ve brewed fruit wheat beers, saisons and have recently created a proper, dry as a bone, Brut IPA.
Helles, our lager, was developed and became an instant hit. The kegging process had to be upgraded and now Helles and Magus are permanent keg beers alnong with the 5 litre mini kegs.
2020 Research for a far reaching book about beer has unearthed a Sumerian beer. Tests are ongoing and this ancient beer will be coming to the bar and bottle early this year. With reports of hard seltzer from America making headway into our English market, we are not amused. Samples have been tasted and techniques examined. The result – Victorian Ginger Beer could easily meet the definition of hard seltzer. There is nothing new under the sun! So, we are making a hard-seltzer ginger beer to appear in the summer. In December 2020 Simon Whittington was appointed as Head Brewer. Founder Steve has retired.