Chris Holland reviews the latest success of historic Keighley brewer Timothy Taylor as its boss prepares to bow out after nearly 20 in the hot seat .
TIMING is everything, they say - and Charles Dent's is impeccable.
The boss of Timothy Taylor's brewery for nearly 20 years could not have imagined that , when he decided to retire as managing director after reaching the age of 65 to move 'upstairs' into the role of non-executive chairman, he would be going with the historic business on such a high.
When he hands over the reigns to his, as yet unnamed, successor later this year, he will do so in the knowledge that one of Taylor's staple brews is officially Britain's best ale. Boltmaker bitter was crowned supreme beer champion at the CAMRA Great British Beer Festival last week.
The accolade was the latest in a string of awards forTaylor's beers and it 's production process down the years .
Boltmaker ,previously called Best Bitter, was runner-up to the 1993 supreme champion beer.
The brew was re-named in a 2012 competition when Phil Booth, licensee at the brewery’s Boltmakers Arms in Keighley, came up with the name to celebrate the town's engineering tradition.
Charles Dent said: "We're over the moon and truly excited with this latest award. It's absolutely fantastic and we're already seeing increased orders for Boltmaker from both existing and new customers.
"Boltmaker has been in the shadow of Landlord, our classic pale ale, which has won this title on four previous occasions, and is the beer everyone associates with Timothy Taylor’s. Boltmaker has now received the recognition we have always felt it deserves. It is the brewers’ favourite beer, sells well in our own pubs and has started to be seen since the name change more often outside Yorkshire. ”
Charles is also relinquishing day-to-day control of the business having overseen a major investment and expansion programme at the Knowle Spring Brewery to enable the family-owned firm to meet continued rising demand for its ales.
The final stage of the £12 million investment programme was the installation of a new £500,000 10,000 kg per hour Keighley-made boiler .
The expansion programme has involved the building of new offices on the site of the former home of company founder Timothy Taylor, the purchase and development of a transport depot at the nearby former WASK engineering site, a £2.7 million brewery extension , a cold hop store and an effluent treatment plant.
In line with the company’s policy to use, wherever possible, local suppliers both the boiler and the boiler house were built and installed by Keighley companies.
The large industrial Yorkshireman 2 boiler was manufactured by Byworth Boilers in its nearby factory and can run on either natural gas or light oil.
Family- owned construction company R N Wooler & Co Ltd built the boiler house- the latest in a long line of contracts for Taylor's. The pipework and lagging was carried out by Silsden-based Watsons Building Services, with electrical work and project management being undertaken by local firms Brian Mitchell Electricians and Mike Regan Associates.
Charles said: This has been the biggest investment programme in the company's history, It safeguards the future of brewing in Keighley for many years to come.
" The new boiler will be able to cope with a doubling of production, which has already doubled in the last decade or so. Due to Byworth's technology, it will also reduce our fuel consumption by at least ten per cent a year, along with lower Co2 emissions .
"It is our second boiler and follows the practise in recent years of having two of everything for our brewing process- both as back-up and to handle increasing volumes. The existing boiler will be kept on standby to cover during servicing and maintenance.
"It also shows how committed we are to providing our customers with ever more consistent beers, delivered at the correct cellar temperature and producing a perfect pint all the time."
The installation of six new fermenting vessels has enabled the company to produce an extra 15,000 barrels of beer a year. The brewery now regularly currently produces around 1,000 barrels of ale a week. and, following the investment, has the capacity to double output again.
Many of Taylor's pubs were on the route of the Tour de France Grand Depart this summer - which gave a string boost to trade. Taylor's worked with Leeds City College students and Keighley's Fab Lab to produce yellow bike signs which were hung on pubs on the route in a project instigated by Heike Funke, pub estate operations manager .
It all started in 1858 when Bingley-born Timothy Taylor opened a brewery in Cook Lane, Keighley, with partners James Shackleton and John Naylor whom he later bought out. Brewing was transferred to the Knowle Spring site in 1863.
Taylor's brewery now employs more than 50 people and the business has a turnover of around £22 million.
In addition to its nearly 30 tenanted and managed pubs, Taylor's beers are sold across the country and the company is concluding a deal for Boltmaker to be stocked by a leading supermarket, several of which already sell bottled Landlord .
VCharles dent is not only proud of Taylor's progress, but also the fact that it has survived massive shifts in the pub and brewing trade and what he regards as punitive beer taxes.
Although he welcomed recent cuts in beer duty totalling four per cent - the first in half a century- Charles pointed out that taxes had risen by 40 per cent in recent years.
" We are the last surviving brewery from the 1850s in this part of the world. At one time every West Riding mill town had two or three . We have managed to keep going and it's gratifying that our products are now more widely appreciated than ever, but we remain a very small operation in today's brewing industry," he said.
Looking back on his time in charge, Charles , a former land agent who initially joined Taylor's in a non-executive role, said: " I have been privileged to work with a fantastic team of people who are committed to the business and our fine products.
"I was also lucky in that my father-in-law Lord Ingrow, who ran his family's business for many years, laid excellent foundations on which we have been able to build. Overall, I would say it has been great fun."