REAL ale lovers in the North-East can enjoy pints of familiar beer now locally-brewed on tap for the first time in almost a decade.

Maxim Brewery has, in recent years, revived some of the favourite Vaux brands feared lost when the Sunderland brewery closed in 1999.

But, having initially produced them out of the area, albeit to traditional recipes, the Maxim team has restored brewing of some bottled beers at its new plant at Rainton Bridge, in Houghton-le-Spring, between Sunderland and Durham, since the beginning of the year.

Now, almost ten years since Vaux brewed its final beer, drinkers can enjoy a freshlypulled pint of Sunderland-brewed real ale, as the business branches out to supply casks to the region’s landlords.

About 30 pubs in the area have placed orders for casks of the company’s well-known former Vaux brands, Double Maxim and Samson.

Maxim Brewery is also now offering Maxim Sladek, using Czech hops, and its awardwinning creation, Maximus, in cask form.

Another of the old Vaux stable, Ward’s Best Bitter, is next in line for a cask version.

The company’s three directors, former Vaux managers Mark Anderson, Doug Trotman and head brewer Jim Murray, are delighted to be putting Sunderland’s own real-ale back behind the bar.

Mr Anderson said: “When we first set up the business, in 2000, we were brewing and bottling in Stockport, but it was always our intention to bring the beer back to the North-East.

“We looked to Sunderland City Council to help us find a home in the city and they found us a fantastic site at Rainton Bridge.

“We’ve filled that with top-ofthe range brewing equipment and we’re now proud to be back brewing in the city and selling casks to local pubs.

“We’re excited to be bringing Double Maxim and Samson cask beers back to the region’s pubs after disappearing for the past nine years due to the Vaux closure.”

The site will produce more than a million pints in its first year and, with capacity to treble that, there is room to expand.

Membership of the Society of Independent Brewers has helped the Maxim Brewery increase the number of outlets to which it can supply Double Maxim and Samson on cask.

The return of such favourites was welcomed by city council leader Councillor Paul Watson.

He said: “The move back to Sunderland is great news for the city. The three directors came to us to ask for help in the move and we were delighted to assist.

“We have found them fantastic premises which they have been able to transform into a highcalibre brewery.”

The brewery already supplies bottles to hotels and supermarkets.