Swell, Wold Top’s first ever barrel-aged beer. Photo by Chris Manson Visuals

Wold Top Brewery

A few weeks ago I was at the Wold Top Brewery picking up some beers for an upcoming shoot: a blonde beer called Wold Gold, the Headland Red ale, & my favourite Scarborough Fair IPA. I’m a commercial photographer, but you’ll never find me stuck in a photography studio. I’m more interested in telling stories with my photography. So when someone hires me to photograph a product, I always want to see the product first. Then I take my time to find significant locations to shoot in, usually within the Yorkshire landscape, often with real people. At the end of the day, I want to be as passionate and proud about my photograph as my client is about their product. 

Commercial photographer living in East Yorkshire

I’m lucky to live and work as a professional photographer in East Yorkshire with so many beautiful locations to choose from. So for the Red ale I decided to shoot with the cliffs and lighthouse at Flamborough Head in the background, then I’d take a stroll along Scarborough seafront with the IPA. But photographing the Wold Gold would be trickier given the time of year and weather – the Yorkshire Wolds were still feeling the effects of heavy rains brought by Storms Dennis and Ciara. (I actually photographed the Wold Gold earlier in 2019 in a gorgeous field of buttercups. See here: LINK TO PHOTO)

Alc. 12% VOL!!!

Before I left the brewery with my three bottles of beer, Kate Balchin, one of Wold Top’s Brewery Managers, showed me a bottle of beer I’d never seen before. It was a beer called Swell, the brewery’s first ever barrel-aged beer! Swell is a rich dark beer that took the last 11 months to mature. It was made in collaboration with the Spirit of Yorkshire distillery and is quite a bit stronger than usual beers at Alc. 12% VOL!!! 

The quick shot 

The timeframe for photographing Swell was a little shorter than usual, as Kate needed the Swell photos for a newsletter going out the following morning. I got my camera out of my car and photographed the beer then and there at the brewery.

After just five minutes walking around Wold Top searching for an honest location to photograph the Swell bottle I had found a small batch of oak barrels hiding up against one of the warehouse walls. These barrels had already been topped with the blue and white Sprit of Yorkshire logo for promotional purposes and looked almost identical to the ones the whisky soaked beer had originally been aged in, so I decided to photograph the Swell bottle standing on one of them. A sheet of blue corrugated plastic (found on a nearby pile of wooden pallets) was propped up behind the bottle to help hide the breeze block wall. Natural light, diffused by the warehouse roofing, did the rest.

I’ve since photographed Swell in a number of locations along the East Yorkshire coast, around Whitby and on the chalk shoreline at Flamborough. These later photos speak more to the story and idea behind Swell. I’ll upload them to my website in the next few weeks. In the meanwhile, if you’d like to try the limited edition beer, it will soon be available from selected retailers, or you can drop in to the Wold Top Brewery at Hunmanby and pick some up.

If you’re looking for a freelance photographer in East Yorkshire, or think you’d like to hire a photographer like me, get in touch or leave a comment! 

Email: chris@chrismansonvisuals.com

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