The link between the two began in 2001, when communications manager at the Trust Erin McDaid sat down with Castle Rock’s owner-chairman Chris Holmes at one of Castle Rock’s pubs. From these embryonic conversations, McDaid says he never thought the partnership would be so successful: “I could never have guessed that the simple idea would grow into a 15 year partnership with Castle Rock Brewery that has generated over £130,000 in funding for our work and which continues to help keep us in the public eye.” he comments.
The range started out with a monthly beer named after a threatened or noteworthy species of flora or fauna, with a local focus. To date, Castle Rock have brewed over 150 unique beers in support of the Trust. One particular highlight is Screech Owl, which was brewed in 2008. This IPA became so popular with beer-lovers across the country that the brewery decided to make it a permanently available beer which has since won a number of local and regional awards, and is also a Bronze winner at a national level (CAMRA Champion Beer of Britain). Erin adds “Over the years, we’ve been able to use the beer range to increase awareness about a number of species and we’ve also had some fun along the way with many successful events hosted by Castle Rock pubs. We really enjoy working with the brewery and we are grateful for the support of the Castle Rock team and t heir wonderful customers and we look forward to the continued success of this unique partnership”
In 2015, the focus of the beer range switched from individual species to a smaller range of “Reserve” beers, created to celebrate some of the charity’s key nature reserves. The currently available “Attenborough Reserve” was brewed with celebrate the charities most popular site, Attenborough Nature Reserve. 2015 also saw a new brew added to Castle Rock’s core range, “Sherwood Reserve”, an opulent stout brewed with Colombian coffee beans.
According to Castle Rock’s head of marketing Lewis Townsend, the relationship has been a great way to track Castle Rock’s development in brewing and as a business. “Aside from the wonderful benefits that working with the NWT has had on raising awareness and funds for the charity, the beers have also been a great way for our brewers to experiment with recipes, process and technique. Indeed, some of our most popular beers have been “Wildlife” beers, including “Frog”, a pale ale single hopped in with Citra, “Yaffle”, a pilsner-style pale ale and “Jay”, a complex porter brewed with eight malt varieties.” The range also got exposure in the most unusual of places, Lewis continues. “We brewed a beer for the Trust called “Brown Trout” in 2011, and perhaps unsurprisingly this beer got a mention in Viz magazine!”
2016 sees some further changes to the beers offered in support of the Trust, with the focus shifting entirely on Sherwood Reserve, a permanently available stout in Castle Rock’s core range. “We’re extremely proud of this recipe” Lewis says. “It’s based on two very popular beers we have brewed in the past: Sherwood Oak and Harold Larwood, and there are plans to put this into bottle and keg as well as cask to further increase its exposure”.
“We are looking forward to working together for many years to come to raise awareness for a charity performing vital work in our local communities”