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31st January 2023

The Empress Returns: Brew York Releases Showpiece Stout

Brew York has released its 2023 Empress Tonkoko beer, along with three small-batch barrel-aged versions. It’s the sixth year the award-winning brewery has brewed Empress, a surprisingly easy-drinking 10.6% beer boasting super-rich chocolate notes mixed with fragrant headiness of Tonka and vanilla.

Brew York first created its now signature milk stout, Tonkoko. Imperial Tonkoko was created in 2017, and the 7.5% imperial variation hit the world to much acclaim, quickly winning several awards and even being voted in the ‘top ten best stouts in the world’ by Rate Beer.

For Empress Tonkoko, the brewing team dialled everything up to 11 with over triple the original levels of coconut, cacao, tonka and vanilla creating a creamy and decadent assault on the senses.

Co-founder and Production Director, Lee Grabham, says “We’re incredibly proud of the Tonkoko series and what we’ve managed to achieve with it. The OG Tonkoko is now one of our best-sellers, Imperial Tonkoko was rated one of the best stouts in the world, and Empress Tonkoko has become something of a showpiece for us – it doesn’t get much better than that! We’ve brewed Empress Tonkoko every year since that first brew in 2018 and every year we strive to brew the best version we’ve ever made.”

That’s not all, either. As part of the 2023 Empress release, Brew York is also presenting three very special, super-limited availability barrel-aged Empress variants.

Brewed and released just once a year, each Barrel Aged Empress Tonkoko release spends at least 12 months in a unique selection of barrels.

For 2023 the team carefully selected oak barrels that have formerly stored three different spirits on a mission to bring you three new and entirely unique flavour infusions. They are:

BA Plantation Rum Empress Tonkoko

Plantation Rum was selected for its flavours of rich oak as well as warm molasses and rich burnt sugars which add depth to an already deeply decadent beer.

BA Heaven Hill Empress Tonkoko

Heaven Hill Bourbon was selected to add a caramel sweetness, subtle rye spice, and rich oak to add depth to an already deeply decadent beer.

BA Buffalo Trace Empress Tonkoko

Buffalo Trace Bourbon was selected for its molasses and toffee sweetness, luxurious vanilla, and rich oak to add depth to an already deeply decadent beer.

With all this in mind, it seems it’s time to grab your favourite glass, sink into your favourite chair and take some time out for some serious stout sipping.


Buy online at

Pre-orders will open on the Brew York web store on Monday 30th January at 6pm. Individual beers, gift boxes containing the full set, and limited edition branded Empress Tonkoko 2023 t-shirts will be available. The Empress beers, gift boxes, and merchandise will ship from Wednesday 1st February 2023.

Get some at a venue near you

We have partnered with a network of partner venues on a coordinated nationwide launch on Thursday 2nd February 2023. With huge thanks to all the following for their support:


Chequers | Beverley

The Market Tap | Castleford

White Hart | Hull

Head of Steam Park Row | Leeds

Brew York: New Briggate | Leeds

Head of Steam Liverpool | Liverpool

The Crown & Kettle | Manchester

Townmouse | Newcastle

Brew York: The Market Tap | Pocklington

Rita’s Pantry | Redcar

Scholar’s Bar | Scarborough

Head of Steam Sheffield | Sheffield

Tipsy Turtle | Stockton

Bow-Legged Beagle | Wirral

Brew York: Beer Hall & Tap Room | York

Brew York: Handley Tap | York

Fossgate Tap | York

The Crooked Tap | York

The Maltings | York

Valhalla | York

Wales & Midlands:

Head of Steam Birmingham | Birmingham

Head of Steam Cardiff | Cardiff

Robertos | Halesowen

Junkyard | Nottingham

Real Ale Direct Hadnall | Shrewsbury

The Woodman | Stoke

Dog & Partridge | Stoke

The Hop Vault | Stourbridge

The Hop Emporium | Warrington

Tonic | Worcester


Beerfly | Bedford

Hole in the Wall | Brighton

Thirsty | Cambridge

Beer Shop | Hitchin

Hop Inn | Hornchurch

Fuggles | Kent

Craft Metropolis | London

Delay No More | London

Fat Cat Brewery Tap | Norfolk

DEAD Time | Saffron Walden

Beer Shop | St Albans

Please note – not all venues have all versions so please check directly if you’re looking for something specific.

Taste them with us

We are hosting guided tastings of the Empress Tonkoko 2023 Series with limited spaces available:

For the York event:

For the Leeds sessions: