It began as a bit of fun but a Knaresborough publican who came to brewing as a novice is rapidly becoming a craft beer sensation.
Having turned an industrial unit at Dishforth airfield into a traditional-style brewery, flavoursome, hoppy beers like Comfortably Numb (a golden pale ale), Dazed & Confused (a modern milk stout) and Love Over Gold (a New World blonde ale) have become familiar names to pub-goers not only in the best bars in the Harrogate area but in cities across the north.
Paul Holden-Ridgeway, head brewer and co-owner of Bad Co brewery with his business partner David Brown, said: “It was only meant to be a bit of fun. We started brewing beer at the pub under the name of Knaresborough Beer Company just for the regulars. Then a friend said, let’s do a bigger brewery. I’ve been working seven days a week ever since!”
A former marine, Paul’s background is a slight case of gamekeeper turned poacher. After a spell with Swallow Inns, one of the big boys, Paul and his wife Debbie, took over Blind Jacks, a minor gem, 14 years ago.
This popular Knaresborough institution is renowned for quality beers, so Paul felt it only right to get up to speed on the craft beer revolution which originated in the US before being picked up in the UK with gusto by the likes of Brew Dog.
Having learnt a lot from fellow Knaresborough-based craft brewers Roosters, the new brewery with its four-and-a-half metre high fermenting room came to fruition quickly.
Built less than a year ago by Knaresborough builder Tony Pedel and Sons in just two-and-a-half weeks, Bad Co’s first offerings emerged last Ma and by September their beers were winning awards at York Beer and Cider Festival.
They are now served in Leeds, Sheffield, Derby, Nottingham and Verbier in Switzerland - but that’s a long story.
Paul now has two new goals - to turn Bad Co into both a brewery and distillery and to create the world’s most hoppy IPA!
“We’ve had so much demand we’re in the process of expanding. We’re importing a bigger brew plant from the Czech Republic. It should allow us to produce bigger, cleaner, hoppier beers - without losing any of the flavour.”