Dream job for amateur brewer – creating Barnsley real ales

An independent Barnsley Brewery has appointed a keen amateur brewer with a penchant for international ales to its growing staff team.

Ian Darvill, 43, joins Acorn Brewery as assistant brewer, where he will learn all about the individual recipes and techniques used to create its famous range of beers, including Barnsley Bitter.

Ian has been a home brewer for the past five years and most recently worked for Sematic UK Ltd, a sheet metal fabrication company in Wombwell, making lift doors.  Originally from Lancaster he now lives in West Melton in Rotherham.

Ian said: “I was overjoyed when I found out that I’d got the job at Acorn because I’m passionate about beer and learning how to make it.


“The principals are basically the same as home brewing but obviously on a much larger scale.”

Ian’s home brewing background saw him making American pale ales, IPAs, German wheat beers, traditional English beers and saison, a Belgium farm house style beer. 

“I used to buy all the grains, hops and yeast from an online supplier and then start experimenting with different ingredients” said Ian. “My most successful home brew was a variation on a Bavarian wheat beer with new world hops, giving a mix of traditional and contemporary flavours.” 

Acorn Brewery owner David Hughes said: “It’s good to have someone with Ian’s expertise and enthusiasm on board. He brings a fresh approach to our team and we look forward to his input as we are constantly developing new beers and flavours.”

Acorn Brewery currently delivers beer direct to over 400 pubs and bars and 50 retail outlets including delis and farm shops in the north and midlands. It supplies to countless others across the UK via wholesalers.

The brewery now sells into all five established UK supermarkets, Morrisons, Asda, Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s.  Acorn started exporting its real ale to Italy last year and, just last month, attended the UKTI organised ‘Barcelona Food and Drink Exhibition’ to court buyers in Spain.

In addition to taking on Ian, Acorn has also recently appointed Yvonne Underwood as an additional administrator.

David said: “Acorn Brewery has grown successfully over the years.  We now have 11 staff and our growing team in manufacturing, sales and business administration is really reaping dividends for us as a company.”

The brewery, which has a turnover of £1.2 million, is based on Aldham industrial estate in Wombwell and currently brews around 30,000 pints of real ale per week – with capacity increasing all the time.

One of its best-selling brands is the iconic Barnsley Bitter which it has produced since 2003 using the original strain of Barnsley Bitter yeast, dating back to the 19th century.

This award-winning beer won Gold in the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) North East Region competition (standard strength brew category) in 2014 and is up for the national award in this category next week at the BeerX Festival to be held at Ice Sheffield (March 18th – 21st).

Hand-pulled cask ale accounts for 90 per cent of Acorn’s production and investment over the last couple of years means the brewery has also increased production of bottled beers by 20 per cent and introduced keg beers to its range.

Acorn Brewery also runs the Old No 7 in Barnsley town centre where it showcases the brewery’s own beers amongst other worldwide brands. 

Ian Darvill of Acorn Brewery
Ian Darvill of Acorn Brewery

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