Stout. It’s a strong word.

Stout. It’s a strong word in craft brewing I tell you that. Dry, chocolatey, velvety, grainy, leather, vanilla, fruity, boozy, pithy, sweet, imperial, smooth, with oysters or just straight bitter. Stout is a world in itself and to the inventive minded brewer the basic stout recipe can be thought of as a platform for an almost endless number of tweaks, variations and speciality ingredients. As versatile as your plain bagel you could say, yet many of the greatest stouts I’ve ever tried have been just that.In recent times the North East’s reviving beer scene has had a good go at tinkering with the style, Tyne Bank’s rich cherry oatmeal stout and Durham Brewery’s rogue geuze meets imperial stout offering Diabolus are two examples. Yet even previous to that the region hosted a good number of quality stouts. Allendale Brewery’s Tar Barl and McConnells from Jarrow are two quality straight down the middle dry Irish-style stouts. Mordue’s All Hallows is a bit of an all rounder (look out for it this Autumn) and Durham’s Black Velvet is pretty much self explanatory. Then you can’t forget the charms of Big Lamp’s Summerhill Stout.Yet apart from Durham’s Imperial 10%  Temptation the region has had little to offer in the way of real heavyweight stouts. However, since last week Anarchy Brew Co of Morpeth has released not just a heavyweight stout but a bold form of the style that has never been brewed in the region.

Sublime Chaos is a 7% Breakfast stout brewed with great quantities of oatmeal and coffee. My sample was taken from the brewery in the form of a take home bright bottle (being a new parent makes attending new beer launches a fair challenge).

The viscous black liquid was in short a big bold burly complex epic of a stout that’s sublime but too well held together to call chaotic. Think silky, oily, viscous, full-on oats countering husky, bitter grain and liquorice. Some heavy hop resins and viscous alcohols erupt in the middle and build into dark winter fruit-like overtones whilst the coffee infusion creates a prolonged note of rich coffee that’s almost a constant. I was surprised to hear from Simon how much coffee was used in making this and despite how obvious the coffee is it never seems to dominate but just add to the whole experience.

Being a big fan of oatmeal in brewing and more recently real coffee (very helpful to new parents) has probably made me all the more biased. Like a good mild ale, oatmeal stouts are a weakness of mine. My advice, seek this one out.

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Brewing row calmed before a story

A fast-growing North East craft brewer has swiftly changed its name rather than face a storm with another brewer.

A legal row started fermenting between new Northumberland brewery Brew Star and the established, larger Brewsters Brewing Company.

The larger Grantham-based brewer was not happy with the similar sounding name of Brew Star and felt it was a challenge to its intellectual property rights and might cause confusion among drinkers, threatening business.

The Morpeth micro-brewery felt the charge was unjustified and could have challenged the allegation through the courts and possibly beaten off the threat. However, Brew Star felt the likely high legal costs and personal energy could be better invested in the brewery and promoting existing and new beers.

Since starting production in February 2012, the brewery has quickly established a good regional distribution and won local and national plaudits for its three main beers, Blonde Star, Sinistar and more recently its premium lager, Anarchy.

Dawn and Simon Miles, the husband and wife team behind the Morpeth brewery have resolved to rename the business and become the Anarchy Brew Co, producing a high quality range of craft beers from its small, modern Morpeth brewery. The names of the products are unaffected.

Dawn said: “It has been an unwelcome distraction from developing products and growing the business. Initially, it seemed a storm in a pint pot over allegations we were in breach of trademarks; the claims seemed ridiculous given our differences – from our size to the way we market and position ourselves. There seemed little comparison to us.

“After seven months of successful trading we thought it was very clear that we are trying to target and attract people to the world of craft beers, luring them away from their normal drinking habits.

“After some internal discussion we decided to resist the temptation to battle it out, spending lots of money in the courts. We jumped at the chance to find a name that better described our philosophy and ethos about brewing craft beers in an unconventional way; we came up with Anarchy Brew Co.

“Anarchy Brew Co reflects the legacy of great, traditional beer making but approaches the process from a more scientific and creative angle, mixing new ingredients with tried and tested recipes.”

Dawn and Simon believe the outcome has actually refined their marketing and potential in the market but also recognise they have learned a lesson about trademarks and intellectual property that other small brewers should be aware of.

For more information about the Morpeth brewery please visit or find them on Twitter @AnarchyBrewCo


MEDIA ENQUIRIES: For more information or photography please call Dawn Miles 01670 789755.



Beer 214 – Brew Star Anarchy (7%)

My name is Andrew… and I’m a CAMRA member. In fact, I’m a practicing CAMRA member, serving as Brewery Liaison Officer for tonight’s brewery; Brew Star.

I talked about my first meeting with owners Simon and Dawn Miles in a post back in March. Hobbyist brewers and wine makers turned pro, the daring duo have quickly become much-lauded in Tyneside and beyond with their Blonde Star beer. A 4.1% thirst quencher, this golden tipple is seen regularly on many a bar across the north east. They have quickly carved out a niche for themselves as one to watch.

At their Morpeth-base they have a delightful brewery tap. Comfy chairs and scenic views add to the pleasure of being able to sample their beers mere yards from where they are brewed. It’s a great place to visit. More amazing still is the fact that they only launched a few months ago. Armed with their core range of Blonde Star and Sinistar, they have decided to start shooting the big guns, bringing out a growing arsenal of bolder beers, like the one I’ll be trying tonight, Anarchy.

Launched back in early June at The Free Trade Inn, I got to try the first ever keg of tonight’s beer. I wrote about the launch here. This is just the first of their more imposing brews. A visit to the brewery is likely to be rewarded with the chance to sample other trial experimental beers. I popped up last weekend and got to try their first run at a Breakfast Stout. At 7.7% it was quite the beer, and most subtle with it. Kind of like a gangland enforcer wearing a shirt and tie.

I brought a few bottles back to the Free Trade for the regulars to pass on their thoughts. For a first stab, it was incredible. Any future batches they put out can only get better. It’s a beer I’m genuinely excited about. There aren’t a great number of local breweries prepared to take risks and try something like a Breakfast Stout, preferring instead to play it pretty damn safe.

I also picked up a couple of bottles of Anarchy on my visit, keen to see how it will compare with my first kegged dalliance and I’m hoping for yet more Anarchy in the UK. But will bottling turn it less punk and more M.O.R? Let’s see.

It’s a rich, golden pour with a quick-to-vanish fizzy head. It certainly looks like a lager, but thankfully that’s where the comparison ends. The aroma is sweet and laden with stoned fruit. It’s definitely boozy but doesn’t come across as OTT.

To taste it’s firmly a case of malts to the front, hops to the back; sweet, syrupy and oh so good. The plumes of carbonation prevent it from coating your mouth and act almost as an accelerant for getting it down you. This is a real summer sinker, distinctive and dangerous. Fire up the barbie, grab six bottles and let the good times roll.

FRIDAY, 27 JULY 2012

Brew Star Anarchy Lager

Lager is one of those words that has become debased by over-use. The world’s most widely consumed beer style has become shorthand for a sort of mass-produced product that some sectors of the market turn their noses up at. Which is a shame, because there are some real classics that fall under the “lager” heading.

Starting at the bone-dry end of the spectrum, Jever Pilsener is a pale and pungently hoppy pils that demonstrates what can be achieved with hops and little hop extract. Dry and bitter, this is a great aperitif. Moving into a slightly more balanced area, German and Czech beers such as Krombacher Pils, Augustiner Helles and Budweiser Budvar showcase a perfect balance of pale malt and noble hop character.

From there, you can go in one of two directions – more hops (Mikkeller P1 is a brilliant dry-hopped lager), or more malt, giving a fuller body and more alcohol. Alhambra Reserva is the only one of the Alhambra range that we stock – we delisted the others for being not being distinctive enough – but the Reserva at 6.4%abv is a full-bodied, malty delight.

And then we have Brew Star Anarchy Lager. At 7%abv, this is a smooth and luscious interpretation of a German bock beer, with sweet malt firmly in the foreground, but with a light dusting of hops keeping everything in its place in the finish. It’s a bold beer to launch on to the market at a time when everyone seems to be obsessed with hops, but like everything we stock, we tried it, we liked it, and we think you will too, not just as a point of difference, but as a great beer in its own right.

Post by: Zak Avery – Beer Paradise

Beer Of The Month: Brew Star’s ‘Anarchy’

By Mark Kelly on July 13, 2012

Drinking craft ale, as most of us know, has recently gone all trendy and hip – like pretending to enjoy jazz and anonymously abusing sports stars on twitter. This surge in popularity has spawned something of a renaissance of choice for all lovers and partakers of the liquid bread.

Gone are the days of holding your nose, closing your eyes and making do with an insipid, mass-produced, limp-wristed tube of lager. With nearly 900 breweries and counting, the UK has finally started taking note of its American counterparts. Ditching the discount slabs of Carling and embracing the noble, native grain – just as we did with the flimsy, feckless grape back when suddenly liking wine became a thing.

The upshot of all this is that when the sweet, amiable and trusting folk at asked what I’d like to write about this summer, it meant I could say “beer” and not a single eyebrow was raised. “Of course Mark,” they said. “Beer. Very hot right now. Off you pop me lad”. (Do I actually talk like that? I sound like a suppressed village dandy. AC).

I’d be hard pressed to find a nicer spot to kick things off than the Brew Star Brewery just outside the sleepy spot of Tranwell Woods near Morpeth. Tucked deeply into picturesque premises at Whitehouse Farm, the husband and wife team of Simon and Dawn Miles are working away at crafting exciting new brews inspired by their travels in the USA and Europe.

Founded in February 2012, the Brew Star label has already found its way into The Cumberland Arms, The Head of Steam and The Free Trade Inn as well as many other Newcastle drinking hotspots. And ambitions are high for the fledgling brewery, which has already found a good market for it’s trusty session ales “Blonde Star” and “Sinistar”.

“We wanted to create something modern and different,” said Dawn when asked of their mission statement. “There are dozens of brewers out there with pictures of steam trains and dogs on their pump clips. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

“But we said from the start that it was important to differentiate and show that real ales aren’t just for old men. We try to pitch what we do to 25 – 35 year old people who want something more exciting.”

“Back when I was a young lass it just wasn’t the done thing to order a half pint of ale as a lady. You just asked for lager and it all tasted the same… bland! We want to help change that,” she added.

Bland is not a word that could be used to describe the Brew Star products. “Blonde Star” is light and refreshing but has a huge flavour that was created to try and convert the die-hard lager drinkers. It certainly packs a punch – doughy aromas, caramel notes and a smooth bitter finish. Whereas “Sinistar”, with its huge toffee and malty hits, is even more full bodied without being heavy. You almost don’t realise you’re drinking a dark ale.

As master brewer Simon takes me through the process – from insistence on using the finest malted barley right up to proper storage and conditioning – it’s clear that session ales are just the beginning of his plans. His experimental attitude has already led to some exciting new flavours – Ginger and Fig Porter being the most recent creation. But as he gives me the tour he shows me the latest project – a promising chocolate and oatmeal stout.

“We always focus on using the best possible ingredients,” says Simon. “The barley we use is always sourced as close as possible to the maltings so it doesn’t have to travel far. We don’t see any point using anything other than the best or it’s just false economy,” he explains.

“Anarchy” lager, launched in early June, is already causing a stir. Going against the trend in many respects, (lets face it – a lot of modern beers – IPAs in particular – just lazily hurl hops at their brew for big aroma) Anarchy sticks to the Brew Star model of balance – delivering stony fruits and subtle, refined hops in perfect tandem. At 7%, I thought it wise to head home before tasting. But good things come to those who drive at 95mph down the A1 and “Anarchy” did not disappoint in the slightest.

Thankfully, if you decide to pay the brewery’s homely feeling bar a visit, you don’t necessarily need a designated driver. Simon and Dawn organise mini buses to and from the premises with a local taxi firm. So you can enjoy their gorgeous views, beautiful sun terrace and freshly made beer at your own pace.


Rob’s Beer Quest (


SUNDAY, 10 JUNE 2012

Brew Star Anarchy

Here’s a newly released beer I came across recently at my local the 3 Wise Monkeys and decided to take one home. I already knew Brew Star for their beers of a well-refined, composed and balanced nature and this offering really takes that to the next level.

The very name Anarchy suggests nothing of what the beer is really like. The beer itself is an approachable yet sophisticated affair. A strong lager that’s pale golden in colour, 7% abv, 20EBU and with upfront peachy fruit and hints of leafy noble hops in the aroma. The palate sings immediately with bold, smooth malt and with a well integrated tang of fruit. The finish is clean and the whole experience hides the 7% abv well, which does urge for a note of caution considering this beer’s immense drinkability.

So the hat comes off to Brew Star, who when wanting to bring their first big beer to market decided to go against the currently traditional approach of ‘let’s throw a ton of hops at this and be like POW! Yeah! Awesome!’ and instead decided to showcase professional brewing with something crafted as intricately and finely-tuned as a German sports car. I can see a lot of beer geeks loving it but more importantly I can see a lot people taking a step back to say “wow, did I really say I didn’t like beer?”.

Ale firm targets lager drinkers with experimental tipples

Feb 5 2012 by Michael Brown, Sunday Sun

ASK many British ale aficionados about lager and you’ll hear grumbling about “tasteless, fizzy pop” and mutterings of drunken, night-time disorder.

But cross the English Channel and the story changes completely with a wealth of tastes, flavours and strengths delighting drinkers all the way from the low countries, past Munich’s Oktoberfest to the eastern republics where “biere” is cheaper than water.

Which makes it all the more surprising many of the new Northern microbreweries haven’t tried to tap into the multi-billion pound market and convert a few of the “lager boys”.

But that could be about to change, with the region’s newest brewery, Brew Star, putting non-ale drinkers firmly in their sights.

Childhood sweethearts Simon and Dawn Miles only installed their new 10-barrel brew plant in a former furniture store at Whitehouse Farm Centre, near Morpeth, 13 days ago, but already their first beer is on the bar in pubs.

“We were at a time in our lives when we were up for a new challenge,” said Simon, who finished working for the plant hire business he used to own last April.

“Our whole thought process behind this project is that while a lot of breweries target good old-fashioned real ale drinkers, we want to target younger people. We don’t want to be traditional, we want to be modern and experimental.

“We are surrounded by quite a few breweries, but we want to be a little different.”

Helping them in their endeavour is friend John Ormsby, who brings with him 25 years of brewing experience.

“We’ve done a lot of travelling, and particularly in Belgium you find lots of strong beers, things like you’re Westmalles and Duvells,” said Dawn. “And we’ve been inspired by that style.

“Our beers won’t necessarily be session ales, they could be designed to go with food.”

The firm’s first beer, launched last night in the Head of Steam-owned Tilley’s Bar, on Westgate Road in Newcastle, is a blonde – appropriately named Blonde Star – which the couple say is designed to appeal to the masses as it has “the character of some lagers”.

And that will soon be joined on pumps by an amber called Gravity and a dark ale called Sinister.

But then the experimentation will begin, with small-run beers “tested” in the brewery’s visitor centre.

“In a recession it is not all doom and gloom,” said Dawn. “It could be a good time for people to think about starting up small and friendly businesses as people want a more personnel service again.”