Rooster's Brewing Co.
Posted on June 01 2020
This month, our Brewery of the Month is Harrogate’s very own Rooster’s Brewing Co.
‘Hatched’ in 1993, this brewery has nearly three decades of brewing great beers under their feathers.
Back in the 90’s most beer was brown, but winemaker Sean Franklin was an innovator and wanted to create something more exciting and had the bright idea of brewing something new with American hops. So he started Rooster's.
It wasn’t long before their hop-forward pale ales were standing out and turning heads. Countless international awards later and a change of hands at the top, Rooster's ethos still remains the same; to brew quality, easy-drinking beers (whilst having the occasional experiment along the way).
Sean retired two decades later, and was lucky enough to find the Fozard family who were keen to continue to push boundaries whilst running the brewery as a family. They were the perfect team to continue Rooster's journey.
We caught up with Tom Fozard and asked a few questions for our comrades. Read all about them in our interview, below. You can also watch Oliver Fozard and Stuart Goddard talking us through their range of delicious beers, here.
How, why and when did it all begin?
Rooster’s Brewing Co. was found in 1993 by Sean Franklin, a pioneering brewer with a background in wine making who returned from studying in France and became hooked on the many similar aromatic and flavour qualities grapes and hops have in common with one another. Sean retired in 2011, which is when my family took over the running of the business. I head up the commercial side of things on a day to day basis, with my twin brother, Oliver, who is Rooster’s Head Brewer, while our dad, Ian, oversees the financial and strategic side of the business.
Who influenced you?
Aside from Sean Franklin, on a personal note, I’ve always been a huge fan of and influenced by Doug Odell, the founding brewer of Odell Brewing Co. in Fort Collins, Colorado. Everything they do oozes class and quality. It’s just a shame their beers are no longer shipped to the UK. Despite not ever planning to be involved within the industry, unlike my brother who started working in brewing as soon as he left school, I’d say our dad buying us ‘DIY shandy kits’ (eight bottles of beer, two litres of lemonade and a six-pack of crisps) each Christmas (the lemonade always remained unopened long into the New Year), is probably where my interest and passion for beer was first formed.
Is beer in your blood?
There isn’t a history of brewing within our family, but, between Ol becoming a brewer at the age of eighteen and my dad founding a small chain of pubs across Yorkshire in the late 1990s / early 2000s and home-brewing becoming the only hobby I’ve ever really stuck with (until working full time at a brewery, that is), I’d say there’s definitely something about beer that connects us.
What makes you different from the other breweries?
The history of the brewery and the story of Sean Franklin’s trailblazing approach to brewing, long before the beer world became what we know it to be today, is easily what sets us apart from most other, modern breweries.
What do you put the success of your brewery down to?
Hard work and a true passion for what we do.
When did you realise that you were ‘on to something’?
That’s probably a question best directed at Sean Franklin, as he’s the one who forged a path for the rest to follow. I guess, however, that when he first brewed Yankee he probably knew he was onto something.
What’s your favourite beer?
If I was only allowed to drink one beer for the rest of my life, it’d be Odell IPA – no question. Of Rooster’s beers, there are loads I’d like to mention, but High Tea (a jasmine Green tea IPA – released annually) probably wins out.
What do your fans say – why do you think they buy over and over again?
With the brewery’s original link to wine making in mind, bitterness has always been an afterthought for us when we brew beer. That’s not say we don’t carefully plan for it as part of the overall flavour profile of a particular recipe, it’s just further down the list of things we’re looking for when we explore hop characteristics.
Combined with our house yeast strain, which is very clean and allows for other flavours to come to the fore, I think the sheer drinkability of our beers is what fans of Rooster’s come back for more of.
What do you think of the Harrogate beer scene?
It’s really come alive over the past five or so years and it’s great to be a strong part of it. There are so many fantastic, independent venues that have opened up and established themselves in this period, all of whom support the many different breweries local to the town. Organisations, such as Women On Tap have also help to shine a light on our part of the world too, drawing attention to what we have to offer along the way.
Bottle or can?
Typically speaking, for me, I tend to go for cans – although I’m more swayed by what the beer is and who’s brewed it.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
I’d like to see us fully established in our new brewery (which we moved to in the summer of 2019), brewing at capacity and with our onsite Taproom continuing to thrive. We’re not looking for world domination, but enhanced brand identity in such a crowded market is also something we have to strive for. That said, I do quite like being a well-kept secret (so long as it’s the sort of secret people tell their friends about!)
Who have you collaborated with and how do you decide who to collaborate with?
Over the years we’ve been delighted to collaborate with many different breweries and brewers we have a massive amount of respect for. From Thornbridge and Magic Rock in the UK to Oskar Blues, Odell Brewing Co. and Green Cheek Beer Co. from the US, along with many more in between, our approach to collaborations has always been determined by the friendships we’ve made along the way.
Are you still creating the style of beer you were when it all began?
Yankee is what put Rooster’s on the map and it continues to be one of our best-selling beers, alongside Baby-Faced Assassin – our flagship IPA that became part of our core range in 2012. We tend to focus mostly on brewing a variety of pale ales, but have also developed a wide range of other styles and recipes, including the likes of One Trick Pony.
What do you think are the biggest challenges in the world of beer?
Covid-19 aside, the large number of breweries in the UK and the level of competition this creates makes for a very challenging market place. The explosion of many different sub-styles and consumer demand for something ‘new’ also makes establishing a brand much harder – although we view both of these as things to help keep us focused and drive us forward.
What’s the next big thing? What’s going to be different next year?
I wish I knew. Hopefully there’ll be a global lactose shortage.
Cheers to Tom and the whole Fozard family for being a part of our Brigade of Brewers and bringing us such awesome beers. We're sure all of our comrades enjoy the ones we've slipped in to your subscription cases this month.
You can watch Oliver Fozard and Stuart Goddard taste and talk us through their range of beers in our YouTube video, here:
If you're not a part of the Republic yet, why not join us and enjoy the beers brewed by this inspirational family? Sign up here.
Long live great beer. Cheers!