DMC Brewery Wakefield: Meet the Morley couple behind the organic ginger beer brewery that's one of only four in the world

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Beer is big business. Micro breweries are cashing in on the ‘craft beer’ boom, serving an unquenchable market for new-fangled IPAs, sours, fruitbombs and saisons, to name a few.

In a quiet industrial estate near Wakefield city centre, a husband and wife from Morley may have just found the next niche drink - alcoholic ginger beers. And to say their brews are rare is underplaying it.

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Yes, there are ginger beers on the market, but there are only three other breweries in the world specialising in ginger beer and which use only organic ingredients - one each in Canada, the USA and Australia.

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Ele Romano making a batch of DMC Brewery's ginger beer.Ele Romano making a batch of DMC Brewery's ginger beer.
Ele Romano making a batch of DMC Brewery's ginger beer.

The only such brewery here in the UK was set up by Giuseppe ‘Gez’ Romano and his wife, Ele.

Gez was a head chef at a top restaurant in Leeds until it closed during lockdown and never re-opened. Ele works part time for soap maker, Lush.

Suddenly the couple, who have three children, found they had a lot of spare time.

Gez, 39, said: “We’ve been home brewers for years, making mead and other interesting brews.

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Ele and Giuseppe ‘Gez’ Romano.Ele and Giuseppe ‘Gez’ Romano.
Ele and Giuseppe ‘Gez’ Romano.

“My wife has been brewing ginger beer and I always used to say there was no decent stuff on the market.

“It was like an epiphany, that we could make it and sell it.”

Cynics may dismiss their product as a ‘trendy alcopop’, a novelty spin on a soft drink, yet the couple are quick to point out that ginger beer was originally, as it suggests, beer.

And the icing on the cake? It originated close to home.

Giuseppe Romano prepares cans of DMC Brewery's ginger beer.Giuseppe Romano prepares cans of DMC Brewery's ginger beer.
Giuseppe Romano prepares cans of DMC Brewery's ginger beer.

“We started researching and found ginger beer was founded in Yorkshire in the 1700s,” Gez said.

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“It started at the docks, when barrels of ginger came in from the east, and they threw in water and lemon.

“For about 150 years it was in demand, until prohibition in America came in and ginger beer was turned into a soft drink. By the time that had ended, Coca Cola had cornered the market.

“When we realised it started in Yorkshire, we had to do it, but we wanted to use only fresh ginger and organic ingredients, to make an historically-accurate beverage.”

Some of the ginger beers in the DMC Brewery collection.Some of the ginger beers in the DMC Brewery collection.
Some of the ginger beers in the DMC Brewery collection.

Starting in March 2021, DMC Brewery began ‘cuckoo brewing’ - enlisting the help of like-minded micro breweries to make small batches.

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They moved onto Balne Lane last year, and experimented with flavours, including mediaeval tipples like mead and braggot.

Now with four staple house brews, and a multitude of seasonal flavours, interest is gaining traction.

Popular at historical events - unsurprisingly, given ginger beer’s links to the past - they even sell their own wooden tankards and Viking-style drinking horns.

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Interest from outlets in West Yorkshire and beyond is also gathering pace.

“We’ve found there is a real market for this,” said Gez. “Wakefield is a fantastic place to do this as well, it has such an independent presence with its little bars and cafes.

“We’re hoping to make this the next big thing, and want to be ahead of the curve.

“We didn’t set out to be trend setters, it’s just a bonus that it has taken off as it has. We’re selling to 20 places at the moment and we want to double that in the next few months.

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“This time next year we want to be selling to 100 places, and we want to get into Canada and America. We’re just going to keep doing what we do.”

Thanks to Gez’s contacts as a chef, he has been able to source ginger mainly from China, who export most of the world’s ginger, despite being grown mainly in India.

DMC Brewery’s four resident flavours include lemongrass and lime leaf, orange with cinnamon and star anise, a 1700s-recipe ginger beer, and an ancho chilli and cacao nib.

Seasonable brews include a barrel-aged ginger beer, and golden pear and chi spice.

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Always experimenting in small batches and using only organic ingredients, the latest and most eye-watering is a collaboration between DMC and a hot sauce company to make a Carolina Reaper chilli ginger beer.

Working largely on their own with help from just a few friends, Gez said: “There’s nobody else out there doing this, so there’s no rule book and nobody to follow.”

Ele, 38, said: “Our approach is like a mad scientist, we get a lot of creative freedom to do what we want.

“I’m not a huge drinker, which sounds odd for a brewer to say, but I just want to be able to enjoy a drink.

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“It’s sweet so people say it’s like a bit more of a cocktail or a party drink but it’s for everybody.

“And the amount of people we have converted has been brilliant."

This article was first published by the Wakefield Express.

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