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  • Desert Island Beers #59: John Lewis, Treboom

    August 31st, 2012DavidMayhallDesert Island Beers

    Welcome to the latest episode of Desert Island Beers which this week features John Lewis, co-founder and brewer at Treboom Brewery, based nr York.

    John originally from Port Talbot, South Wales says that as a boy he was fascinated by science, mainly the possibility of blowing things up but also science in general. As a teen he discovered beer, but being the 70′s, proper beer was hard to get hold of, so John turned to home brew and managed to brew a tidy pint – good enough for his Dad and his neighbours to start investing in him. They bought him fermenting bins, casks and ingredients and pretty soon he had a production line going supplying three houses.

    But the time came for John to pick a career and science beckoned. A research technicians post in Bristol and a degree in biology/biochemistry at Kings College London were followed by a break where he went AWOL in Paris, working for 2 years and having a very nice time, thank you. Back to science he then studied for an MSc followed closely by a PhD and worked in Cancer Research – leukaemia at Imperial College, London and then prostate cancer at The University of York.

    John Lewis Treboom brewery

    Never knowingly under brewed – John Lewis, Treboom



    Fullers ESB


    His partner Jane is from Durham, she started out nursing in London before pursuing her love of art and studying for an MA in Ceramics and Glass at the Royal College of Art followed by a career as a professional ceramicist.

    John and Jane had talked for some years about doing something different, with all ideas seeming to focus on making something for people to enjoy. So when the funding for John’s post at the the University of York looked insecure they decided to go for it and a microbrewery was an obvious choice.

    They founded Treboom Brewery at the beginning of 2012 on the site of an old pig shed at Manor Farm, Shipton-by-Beningbrough. The pig shed was pulled down and a brand new building erected which John and Jane now rent off the farmer. A Rural Development Grant grant from Yorkshire Forward meant they were able to install a custom made 10 barrel plant.

    John enlisted the help of York based brewing consultant David Smith to get the brewery up and running. Together they devised the recipes for Treboom’s 3 core beers; Drum Beat, Kettle Drum and Yorkshire Sparkle, with their fourth, Baron Saturday, coming out soon. John says he has lots of ideas of beers he’d like to make but wants to concentrate on getting the core beers established first.

    People always ask where the name Treboom comes from; the explanation: “It’s from the sound of a drum roll, TrrrrrBOOM and signals the moment we’ve been waiting for for some time…. our very own microbrewery where we can make delicious beer!”

    The Beers

    Hi John and welcome to our Desert Island! Which beers are you bringing with you to the island, and why?

    1. Wadworth Co. Ltd – Wadworth 6X – (Devizes, Wiltshire – 4.3%)
      “I started at Bristol Polytechnic in 1979 just when Real Ale was beginning to get noticed. The student bar had Waddies 6X on the bar which was the perfect antidote to the fizzy keg Allbright bitter I’d been drinking in Wales (I think the equivalent to Toby Bitter in England).”
    2. Fuller Smith & Turner PLC – Fuller’s ESB (Chiswick, London – 5.5%)
      “I lived in London and developed a love for Fuller’s London Pride but I’ve chosen the ESB which to my mind is like London Pride on steroids. Fruit and malt but balanced by a fresh hop flavour.”
    3. Brasserie Duyck – Jenlain Ambrée Bierre de Garde – (Jenlain, France – 7.5%)
      “I spent a couple of years living in Paris at the end of the 80?s which was where I met Jane. Beer drinking was generally restricted to a ‘demi’ of Kronenbourg or pints of Smithwick’s in an Irish pub. But there were a few bars around selling more interesting things such as Belgian beers. One of these was the Baragoiun which sold bottles of the Biere du Garde, Jenlain. It’s a malty beer with flavours of toffee and raisins and brings back fond memories for Jane and I.”
    4. Habeco (Hanoi Alcohol Beer and Beverage Company) – Bia Hói Hà Nôi – (Hanoi, Vietnam – 4.2%)
      “While Jane was at the Royal College of Art she was lucky enough to be awarded a travel scholarship so we spent a month cycling around Vietnam. Vietnam has inherited its brewing tradition from the French. Whilst the beers are a fairly generic lager style after cycling 50 miles in 30+C heat and high humidity, that first ice cold beer was the best one I’ve ever tasted! The second one was pretty good as well.”
    5. The Coniston Brewing Co. Ltd – Bluebird Bitter (Coniston, Cumbria – 3.6%)
      “Jane and I love walking and make a trip to the Lake District every year to get out on the fells. There’s no better way to finish of the long days hard walking than with a pint of Blue Bird.”

    And which beer of those five would you rescue from the waves if a beer hungry tsunami hit?

    “Fullers ESB – probably one of the best beers out there.”

    The Meal

    You can also take one meal to go with your beers, what would it be?
    “Fish and chips – it’s the king of meals and it goes brilliantly with a nice hoppy beer such as Coniston’s Blue Bird.”

    The Books

    You might be waiting a long time on your lonesome on the desert island, so we will automatically allow you a few books to keep your mind busy. You can pick between two beer books and two tomes: ‘The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food’ by Garrett Oliver, or ‘Beer’ by Michael Jackson; plus The Bible, or another appropriate religious or philosophical work.

    “1. Beer by Michael Jackson

    2. I’m not religious and not much of a philosophy student either. I’d take Roads to Freedom by Jean-Paul Sartre where he puts some of his ideas about Existentialism into novel form. I can’t pretend to understand the philosophy but it’s a good read and inspired me to move to Paris.”

    And a non-beery book?

    “When I need to relax there’s nothing better than one of PG Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster stories – could I be cheeky and ask for a boxed set?””

    The record

    You have a CD/mp3/long player but you can only take one album. Choose wisely!

    “Very difficult – I love music and always have a CD going in the van when I’m out delivering but I like to change it around otherwise I get bored. One person who’s consistently on is Tom Waits – I’d probably go for the Rain Dogs album.”

    The Luxury Item

    And finally, what luxury item would help make your stay on the island bearable?

    “I’ve got beer, music and books – what else would I need? But I’m a ginger and, to quote Billy Connolly, “I’m pale blue – it takes me a week to go white” … so a sun umbrella to make sure I don’t burn too much.”

    Thanks John! You’ve given us a thirst to travel around the Lakes and Vietnam!
    For more information on Treboom’s beers follow them on Twitter here or on Facebook here.
    This article is a collaboration with All Gates Brewery as part of our Desert Island Beersseries.


    After gaining a qualification in micro brewing David Mayhall founded All Gates Brewery with local licensee Ian Thorpe in 2006 and its first pub was the multi award winning The Anvil in Dorning Street, Wigan. All Gates re-established brewing in Wigan town centre after a near forty year absence. They run a five barrel brew kit, employ seven people and have seven pubs across the North West. David and Mark run the Desert Island Beers project and publish the interviews at Real Ale Reviews and the All Gates Brewery blog.

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