Beer Blog

They’ll be Pouring from Wooden Casks at Northern Whisper Brewing Co.

Master Cooper Alastair Simms was just putting the finishing touches to the last of a stack of brand new casks when I walked in to Whiterose Cooperage at Thorp Arch this morning. The natty green paint going around the cask heads looked rather smart, I thought.

WRC & Northern Whisper-5

‘Where’s these going?’ I asked. ‘Deepest Lancashire’, he replied, ‘if you hang around a bit you’ll meet ‘em.’

So I did and met up with Carmelo Pilliteri, Director and Brewer at Northern Whisper Brewing Co of Rossendale along with beer writer Mark Briggs of Briggs on Beer and Real Ale up North fame. He was quite taken with his  pin badge!



Alastair had fashioned nine Metric Firkins, that’s an eleven gallon cask to me and you, from larger used wine and spirit casks; four Red Wine, four Whisky and one Rum barrel. I asked Carmelo what they were going to be used for? He told me they would start filling them next week. The beer would then be served ‘from the wood’ in their Hill End Mill Brewery tap room on a permanent basis.

Carmelo said it was going to be something of an experiment to see which beers suited the wood and to discover the ‘added dimension’ the spirit casks would give. He was definitely going to give punters the opportunity of a Wood v Modern cask taste test of the same ales and reckoned that their wheat beers would really suit the woodies.

I’ve been very impressed with Northern Whisper Brewing Co since I first tried Blighty, a British Bitter brewed with a modern take, at Tapped Leeds in the summer, the sort of thing that makes you re-appreciate the style. It must have been one of the first casks that got to Leeds because Carmelo told me they only started commercial production in June on their 10BBL kit. I’ve drank it since and it seems to be consistently very good.

I also had a few pints of Northern Whisper Brewing Co Yammerhouse, a very drinkable APA in The Junction, Castleford when I met up with the Woodfest18 organisers from SPBW a couple of weeks ago too. An APA is probably not something a lot of people would associate with wooden casks, but I can tell you it really complements the style and true to form, the beer was first rate.



Obviously Carmelo has been talking to Neil Midgley because the Metric Firkin is his ‘go to’ cask for daily use in The Junction. No surprises where Carmelo and Mark’s next stop was going to be then. Tempting though it was, I had to turn down the offer of a lift. But before they set off I supervised loading the van, including all the off-cuts from the original casks, all packed into malt sacks to be burnt on the Northern Whisper Brewing Co tap room log burner.

I reckon if you get down there in a couple of weeks they will be pouring from the Whiterose Cooperage woodies and you can sit and enjoy your pint in front of the fire. I can guarantee you both the beer and the aroma will be wonderful.



8 replies »

    • It’s always nice to come across new brewerys, even better when they are as good as Northern Whisper, knowing your preferences, I reckon you’d love Blighty, and the rest of their beers too. Carmelo was a really genuine nice guy as well. I fancy a trip over the hills to visit their tap room once the weather gets a bit better.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. My current fave is Tharavadu (Keralan) on Mill Hill, Dave. Also good (but not really a restaurant) is Bundobust almost next door, excellent beer and small dishes of Indian street food, you can get one pot as a snack or several and call it a meal, they’re all vegetarian dishes. The Kerala on Headrow is very good, their Masala Dosa is to die for. Similarly Akbar’s (Pakistani) and Cats Pyjamas (Indian influenced) across the road (I actually prefer the more intimate, original Cat’s PJ’s in Headingley LS6 on Otley Rd). Agraah (Pakistani) is always dependable (there are several across W.Yorks). But for the ultimate experience go to Bradford. My long time favourite is Omars (Pakistani), search for it on my site, I did a post on it. There are so many really good ones in Bradford, it really is the UK home of curries (nearly all Bangla and Pakistani). In W.Yorks we are really spoiled with high quality south Asian food from all the different cuisines.


    • RM has recommended Bradford, via Hector, and we are likely to visit there. Bundobust is one that is hard to catch from a distance. I was curious what it really amounted to. Thanks for the clarification. Tharavadu has not appeared on a single search for me. Thanks for the pointer.


      • I might have spelled it wrong? It is excellent though and the staff are fantastic, if you go be sure to make a reservation or you will be disappointed. The Head of Steam is directly opposite and Baht ‘ap is two doors away. Tapped Leeds is at the top of the street. Leeds Brewery Tap and Friends of Ham are in the next street (sort of on top of it almost) and IMO the best ‘spoons in Leeds is on the North concourse of the station (go on a match day for the best experience). Within 150yds you have some of the best bars in the UK selling traditional and modern cask and keg beers in several different styles of the modern pub.


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