Houghton beer is heaven sent

Rev Sue Pinnington of St Michael and All Angels Church in Houghton with a bottle of the Gilpin Ale.

Rev Sue Pinnington of St Michael and All Angels Church in Houghton with a bottle of the Gilpin Ale.

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A CHURCH is hoping sales of new ales will help raise the profile of a famous Wearside figure.

St Michael’s and All Angels, in Houghton, says it has created the tipples to increase awareness of Bernard Gilpin, as there are calls for him to be made a saint.

Gilpin, rector of Houghton from 1557, became such a friend and champion to anyone in need that he became known as the “Apostle of the North”.

This year sees the first annual Bernard Gilpin Festival Weekend.

The beers were launched to coincide with the commemoration of Gilpin’s death and it is intended that by 2017, 500 years after his birth, his life and work will be recognised by the national church.

St Michael’s and All Angels Church is working alongside Durham Brewery to produce the beverages, which are called Gilpin and Apostle.

Reverend Canon Sue Pinnington, whose idea it was to get the drinks produced, said: “We are doing this for two reasons.

“One is to get a higher profile for Bernard Gilpin and we are hoping to petition the Church of England to have him listed in the list of saints. We want to build up a celebration of his life as well and we hope it will raise church funds.

“This is a wonderful and enjoyable way to celebrate the life of a great man.”

A spokesman for the Durham Brewery said: “They are raising funds for the church and wanted a special beer from a local brewery.

“We are honoured that they chose us for such a worthy cause and to celebrate the life of Bernard Gilpin.Gilpin is five per cent and a traditional English ruby bitter with a good balance between malt and hops.

“Apostle is 3.8 per cent and a pale citrussy session bitter. Both are real ale in a bottle”

Gilpin turned down the chance to be a bishop in 1563, preferring to stay at Houghton, where he remained in the parish until his death in 1583.

He was already in failing health when an ox knocked him down in Durham’s Market Place. He died just a few months later.

The premium ales come in cask and bottled form and are on sale at Houghton Rugby Club, Dairy Lane, Houghton.