The U.K.'s Brew York brewery shares the same hometown as the award-winning actress.

By Mike Pomranz
November 13, 2019
Mike Marsland / Contributor/Getty Images

Craft beers inspired by celebrities have become pretty common. Thousands of breweries around the globe are constantly releasing new beers, and piggybacking off a prominent figure's success is a good way to stand out in the crowd. Of course, the line between homage and infringement can be fine—so some people don't appreciate having their brand coopted, like when team Mary Berry sent a California brewery a cease-and-desist letter. (In Berry's defense, they used her actual name and likeness without her permission.) But other celebs are smitten that someone would brew in their honor—like Dame Judi Dench, who even posed for a photo as she enjoyed a can of Dame Judi Quench DDH Pale Ale.

York, England-based Brew York is known for using punny spins on celebrity names for its beers. The core lineup includes a "Goose Willis" gooseberry sour and the brewery's Instagram page touts the return of "Rhubarbra Streisand," a rhubarb milkshake pale. Since Judi Dench was born in York, a beer named after the actress only seemed appropriate, and when Brew York collaborated with local beer shop The House of the Trembling Madness on a juicy, double dry-hopped pale ale, completing the York theme by dubbing the beer "Dame Judi Quench" was an easy choice.

Getting the beer into Dench's hand was no accident either. "My business partner, Lee Grabham, used to work with Dame Judi Dench's nephew," Brew York cofounder Wayne Smith told me via email. "He is a regular at our taproom/beer hall and offered to take some cans down for her to try."

Still, a photo was no guarantee. "She kindly posed for a picture and sent a signed poster back, saying thanks for the beer. She said she enjoyed it," Smith told YorkMix. He also told the U.K. site a similar scheme earlier this year to get a Simon Le Mon sour into the hands of Duran Duran singer Simon Le Bon's hands didn't result in any photos. "So this is the first time we've had a celebrity drinking our beer." (For the record, Brew York is pretty well-known craft brewery in England. Despite Smith's modesty, I can only assume other celebrities have drunk his beers even if there isn't photographic evidence!)

Brew York

But as the brewery posted on Instagram, seeing Dame Judi Dench holding a can of Dame Judi Quench "makes you want to high five everyone in the room." However, for the rest of us, getting a can won't be so easy anymore. "We launched the beer back in August, so it has unfortunately all sold out now. In fact, the last case of cans was taken down to Dame Judi herself," Smith told me. That said, though they hadn't planned on brewing it again, given the renewed demand for the beer, Smith says "we are going to speak to Trembling Madness to see if they have any interest."

Meanwhile, though Brew York hasn't had any legal issues yet, they are certainly now aware of what that aforementioned California brewery went through. Brew York makes a blueberry pastry sour called "Katy Berry." "At the time, we were torn between that and Mary Berry," Smith tells me. "Thankfully we went with Katy."

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