Ales and old Norse tales at new Northumberland brewery

Norse legends of Vikings, vipers and victories have inspired a new micro-brewery at one of Northumberland’s oldest pubs.

The King Ælle Brew Co at the Delaval Arms pub, at Old Hartley, is named after Ælle, King of Northumbria during the middle of the 9th Century.

As viewers of hit tv series Vikings discovered, according to Norse sagas Ælle captured the legendary Viking leader Ragnar Lodbrok and put him to death in a pit of snakes. In revenge, the Vikings invaded Northumbria in 866, which led to an equally bloody death for Ælle.

Now, drinkers at the pub – which dates to the 1700s and overlooks the coast on which the Vikings landed – can sample craft beers, some of which recall King Ælle’s turbulent reign.

These include Ragnar’s Revenge, a 4.3% Anglo-American pale ale, made using English marris otter, wheat and oats; Rocky Island IPA, with mango, guava and papaya; and Hartley Sloop, an Indian Session Ale. Amber Aelle is an amber ale with rich toffee and caramel notes; while Secret Reefer IPA weighs in at 5.1% ABV; and Charlie’s Garden is a vegan friendly golden ale, unfined and unfiltered for maximum flavour.

The King Ælle Brew Co. was formed during lockdown under brewer in residence Chris Lee, who honed his skills at North East breweries Wylam and Almasty, and used the pub’s temporary closure to perfect the range.

Beers are served on the pub’s terrace alongside a roster of guest ales, and in the on-site tap room and pub, named Captain Dawson’s Cabin after one of the pub’s former landlords.

Jos Dawson, captain of the bottle sloop Hartley was captured by French privateers in the 1700s. Following his rescue he was granted the lease of The Delaval Arms by Lord Delaval and ran it with wife Ann.

“When you’re in this pub you get a real sense of history all around,” said Chris,  “because we are pretty much on the edge of the cliffs it doesn’t take much imagination to picture Viking hordes screaming onto the beach below. Like us, our Scandinavian neighbours appreciate a good ale and I like to think they’d approve of our range, which encompasses contemporary, hop forward beers along with subtle traditional ales from locally sourced malts. We’re also hoping to develop seasonal one-off styles and, by using modern and traditional brewing techniques and incorporating fruits, herbs and purées alongside the newest hops, we are confident there should be an ale to suit every palate.”

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