Monday, 13 December 2010

Home Brew

An affordable gift this Christmas is the latest book on home brewing that was recently sent to me by the publishers.

Home Brew is a smart hardback book with 208 pages packed with good ideas for making drinks at home. It includes sections on beer, cider and fruit wines and describes recipes, techniques and other essential information to get you started.

This would be a good starter book for anyone who is keen on home produce and would be perfect to use to start making drinks from your allotment harvest or garden seasonal fruits.

I prefer to drink the stuff rather than make it and I prefer my beer to be professionally brewed rather than prepared in a bucket. Hence I have already passed the book onto someone who will make more use of it than me. Someone who is already keen on self-sufficiency, a keen apple juice, cider and beer maker and someone who I know will take advantage of the recipes and instructions for fruit wines or perhaps even mead in the book.

If you have anyone similar in the family, this book would make a good present. £20 cover price but the usual Amazon discount brings it to you for £11.10

Royal Wedding Beer - Paine's Young Rowley 1981

This week's 1981 Royal Wedding beer is Young Rowley brewed by Paine & Co in St Neots, Cambridgeshire.

Another 275ml brown bottle with foil top and crown cap. It is common for beers in this period not to have the ABV on the label.

The beer poured a very dark red colour but was completely flat and had bits floating throughout.

The aroma was stale and not pleasant and , although the taste did have some subtle hints of fruit and sweetness, I decided that a couple of sips was more than sufficient.

This beer was called Young Rowley. I believe that this is a nod to the fact that Charles II was nicknamed "Old Rowley" which was the name of his favourite horse, Prince Charles thus being nicknamed "Young Rowley" by Paine's Brewery.

Some background from A Century of British Brewers published by the Brewery History Society : James Paine acquired the brewery site in St Neots in 1831. The company was renamed Paine & Co in 1896. The business was taken over by a group of travel agents in 1982 and was eventually acquired by Tollemache & Cobbold in 1987 when brewing ceased.

The 1982 Good Beer Guide suggests that 15 of its 23 houses sold real ale plus many free trade outlets.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

College Beer Club from Meantime

This week I am going to share some ideas for Christmas presents for the beer drinker. First up is probably the most extravagant gift of the season, an annual membership of the College Beer Club launched in time for Christmas by Meantime of Greenwich.

An annual membership brings two 750ml corked and wired champagne bottles of specially brewed and aged beers couriered each month to your door. The first beer hopefully delivered in time for Christmas will be a 13.5% imperial Russian stout, aged for ten months in whisky casks and described as liquid Christmas pudding. This will be followed by monthly deliveries of wood aged beers, historic beer styles from previous centuries, recreations of lost recipes plus innovative new brews all created by the fair hand of the Meantime brewmeister, Alastair Hook.

I am not going to deny that £350 for twelve deliveries of two bottles is not a large amount of money, each bottle working out at just under £15 a bottle. However, with membership limited to 500 these beers are going to be scarce. Once they're gone, they're gone and compared to some of the special imports from USA and Scandinavia they represent some value.

I have spent my expenses as London Ale Taster on my membership which I think is a rather neat virtuous beer circle.

I am also rationalising spending that much money by comparing it to the investment made last year in Brewdog. Some of us sent Brewdog money last year when they went through a fundraising to grow the business. There was no beer involved, just an investment, a chance to share in the future growth of the company and a feeling of being involved with one of the country's most innovative outfits.

I see much in common with the College Beer Club. A chance to support Meantime's move to modern new brewery in Greenwich, a feeling of kinship and brotherhood, a chance to feel involved. Instead of a share of future growth, there is the chance to try some great beers over the course of a year.

This College Beer Club "investment" is only for one year and I may be proved wrong but I am guessing that it will be more rewarding and more enjoyable than the future of my Brewdog investment.

So there you have it. An extravagant Christmas present for the beer lover in your life though something with instant payback and enjoyment and a gift that will keep giving throughout the coming year. I look forward to seeing some of you at the launch party in January.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Alarming news about Santa

It gives me no pleasure to have to bring this to your attention but I have some alarming news about Santa's business practices over the festive season.

It is alleged, according to my niece's maths homework, that Santa sells on all of the goodies that are left out for him on Christmas Eve.

It would appear that the going rate for mince pies is 20p, the glasses of sherry fetch 40p each and even the carrots have a market value of 5p each. From the income raised, Santa pays out for wrapping paper, gift tags and sellotape. He also has to pay wages to his elves for their efforts.

This information has been leaked by one of the elves who believe that Santa makes enough profit to give his employees a small increase in wages.

Now, that's all well and good in today's financial environment, everyone has to make sure their business affairs are in order but what troubles me the most is that I normally leave Santa something special to warm him up on his long journey.

It might be an aged Fullers Vintage or a Struise Black Damnation; something strong and dark that he won't get in anyone else's house and hopefully something so rare that he will remember me fondly throughout the year and with anticipation when returning to my chimney each year.

Now I am most disappointed to learn that he does not drink the beer but merely flogs it off to the highest bidder.

I know that this has some basis in fact because I saw last year's offering recently in the fridge at the Euston Tap. A 75cl, wired and corked bottle of Gift of the Magi from Lost Abbey Brewery in California. One of the treasures from my beer cupboard, left out for Santa's enjoyment but unceremoniously fenced off to one of London's leading beer bars. The price at the Euston Tap was approaching £30 but one cannot blame the high price on the good people there. They have merely suffered an extra leg in the supply chain and have to price accordingly. Hopefully someone will see the value there over the festive season and thoroughly enjoy what Santa has missed.

This year I am going to open, drink and enjoy a bottle of Cantillon St Lamvinus while wrapping the presents and leave a glass of cheap sherry out for Santa.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Royal Wedding Beer - Adnams Prince's Ale 1981

Cracked open the first of my collection of 1981 Royal Weding ales today, Adnam's Prince's Ale described as a strong ale brewed to celebrate the royal wedding 29 July 1981.

Served in a 275ml brown bottle with foil top. The beer poured completely flat but perfectly clear. It was a beautiful red colour reminiscent of Broadside or Tally Ho. The aroma was encouraging for such an old beer and gave off good fruity esters of fig and raisins with a sherry-like character. The taste was let down a bit by being completely lacking in condition but it was identifiable as a strong beer and was definitely still drinkable. There was of course some stale cardboard oxidisation but on balance this was an enjoyable beer and I finished the whole bottle.

Although they would probably say otherwise due to their modern brewery and green credentials, but Adnams has not changed much in the last thirty years.

The 1981 Good Beer Guide says "all 75 tied houses serve real ale, also widely available in the free trade".

Adnams were and have remained one of the country's best family brewers and I raise a glass to them, their beers, longevity and consistency.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Royal Wedding Beers

The summer of 1981 was a big one for me. I was a 19 year old, fledgling beer drinker having matured from keg beers such as Ben Truman (you couldn't taste the hops) and Watney's Special (an oxymoron if ever there was one) onto Young's and Fuller's, great tasting real ales.

I had also just started my first job as a trainee accountant and I had sixty pounds a week (less tax) burning a hole in my pocket (context : beer was about 40p a pint). That summer also brought us a massive royal event, the wedding of Charles and Diana, a match supposedly made in heaven.

In 1977 a few breweries had made special beers to celebrate the Queen's silver jubilee. They were very popular and remarkably collectible with some rarer bottles changing hands for great sums. By 1981 everyone had climbed aboard and about 150 breweries brought out celebration wedding beers, distributed them in great numbers and though many were collected, they never really had the same scarcity or collectible value and even now only fetch about a pound a bottle.

I succumbed to the very English hobby of collecting and in a four to six week period in the lead up to July 1981 I collected over thirty of the special beers but was nowhere near finding a complete set and, once the wedding had come and gone, I had moved onto QPR programmes and the beers were stuck in a cupboard forever.

Last week we heard the announcement that the offspring of that coupling had announced his own nuptials and to mark that event I have decided to open all of my Royal Wedding beers in the lead up to William and Kate's wedding next April and talk about them each week on this blog.

There is, of course, a great difference between aged beers and old beers and I don't expect many of them (if any) to taste any good. Although some are quite strong, bottle conditioning was rare in those days and they would all have been brewery conditioned and mostly pasteurised. They have all seen enough light over decades to spoil each beer ten times over.

What will hopefully be more interesting though is that each bottle, or more specifically each brewery, will have its own story of the last thirty years.

From those companies that have grown most in that period, Marston's and Greene King, through those that they swallowed up such as Jennings, Ringwood, Belhaven and Morland to some hardy family independents like Hall/Woodhouse, Adnams and Fullers to some that disappeared completely as the industry consolidated such as Bruce's Brewery and Godson's, good London micros of their time.

As the wedding approaches on 29 April I am also hoping to find some new beers brewed for the occasion and this time I will be drinking and enjoying them rather than saving for posterity.

My wife will also be most delighted to get one of her cupboards back after all this time.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

World's Best Beers

One of my failings as a beer blogger is that I sometimes enjoy someone else's hospitality and then fail to tell them or tell the wider blog world how much I enjoyed it. It then nags and nags my conscience like a stone in my shoe. I am about to remove one of those stones.

Ages and ages ago I took my fill of beer at the launch of World's Best Beers by Ben McFarland. I then gratefully received a review copy of the book some weeks later. I am embarrassed to say that this was over a year ago.

I haven't been totally remiss though. About three months ago I wrote a long piece praising this book, edited and tweaked the copy, then with a click of the mouse it was gone - into the ether never to reappear. Fat finger syndrome that also is the curse of my Twitter account !

It is my honest opinion that this remains the best book of this style published recently. Although it is another compilation of 1,000 of the world's best beers populated with colour photographs and tasting notes, it is very much more than that.

The opening pages include a comprehensive guide to ingredients including an excellent section on hops (hip hops ?). The next section on beer styles strays away from the boring tried and tested and includes styles such as Vintage Ales, seeking to explain the recent trend in aged and collectible beers.

The beers are the main course and are split by country, from Britain and Ireland, through Europe to America(s), Australasia, Africa and the Middle East.

Breaking up the 1,000 beer tasting notes and descriptions there are other sections telling the stories of breweries such as Fullers, Thornbridge, Cantillon, Mikkeller etc, all written in an entertaining style that makes the book an enjoyable read rather than a reference or coffee table volume.

(Watch out for the story of coffee beans passed through the digestive tract of an Indonesian weasel before being used in the brew of the legendary Beer Geek Breakfast).

Finally it is the final section on Beer and Food that made this a prize winner at last years Guild of Beer Writers awards. The section includes a concise guide to beer and food matching and then goes onto suggest beers that work well with seafood, meat, chicken, cheese, desserts and spicy food and includes guest appearances from Rick Stein and Garrett Oliver, a genius who has achieved most in the realm of beer and food matching.

So there you have it, not a particularly lucid book review but an honest one and at least part of my conscience is satisfied.

It is my honest opinion that this is one of the best, most readable, beer books published in recent years and I give it my hearty recommendation.

Cover price is £25 but you should find it on Amazon for less than £15.

Monday, 8 November 2010

The Passion of Thornbridge

There is a general love-in in blogworld today for Kelly Ryan of Thornbridge Brewery who has made the decision to return down-under to his homeland, New Zealand. The respect that the beer blogging world has for Kelly and his efforts to bring us good tasty beer as well as his clear passion, knowledge and skill is immense and he truly deserves this slap on the back to say farewell.

The inspiration for this post came from Jeff Cioletti, the editor of Beverage World magazine and the full editorial of the July edition can be seen here. I am just going to lift a few passages to illustrate the point that one of the unique selling points of craft and cask ale is its passion.

Jeff writes : "You don't need me to reiterate the obvious: craft beer's volume and dollar gains as the rest of the beer market declines, evolving consumer tastes, affordable luxury, etc. That's not news .......

What I believe is under-reported is the emotional component, the passion.

Craft beers don’t have consumers, they have fans. That’s one of their key distinguishing factors...... And they can be quite the passionate lot.

The passion of its fan-base is one of the visible elements that's been putting wind in craft beer’s sails (and sales), but it's actually rooted in the passion of the people behind the brands, many of whom left other stable careers to do what they truly love. And the fans feed off of that.

In this new era of engagement, consumers are looking for brands that are not only about the finished product, but the types of people behind it. Increasingly they don't want to buy from companies that see the product as just another widget or something that was created to fulfill someone's MBA requirements.

They want to put their hearts and souls behind brands created by individuals who put their own hearts and souls into, whether it's a craft beer, an organic ready-to-drink tea, an artisanal soda with its own unique story or what have you.

Passion begets passion and is the key ingredient in converting consumers to fans."

Kelly, you have played a major part in converting consumers of Thornbridge beers into fans. We have enjoyed your company, your enthusiasm, your knowledge and most of all your beers. We wish you well in the future and very much hope to get to try the juices of your heart, soul and passion in the future. Cheers !

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Egham United Services Beer Festival

Just a quick and lazy reminder that this event is on again this week - definitely recommend a visit. In particular I will be seeking out the very last drop of the London Brewers Allaince Collaboration Porter which has hopefully developed nicely over the last month or so.

Just a reminder that our next Egham Beer Festival will be open all day Thursday 4th thru Sunday 7th November (opens at 11am daily).

As before approx 50 beers with the emphasis on new breweries and new beers. Since the number of handpumps on the club bar were increased from 5 to 8 we’ll now be able to offer 36 beers at any one time!!!

There’ll also be some festival specials such as Ascot Chambord Imperial Stout and a special version of Havant Unwrapped plus 2 new beers from our local hobby brewer Blackaddler.

Some of the new brewers will be on hand for informal ‘meet the brewer’ sessions.

Prices will be keen as always.

For those who like some music with their beer we’ve booked Papa George for Friday evening.

Brainwave - Beer Tasting

I am more than happy to give a shout-out for anything that is beer related but I am delighted to be able to promote the following event as it also has an angle that can help others.

The children’s charity, Brainwave, is arranging an exclusive beer tasting at the Farmers’ Club on 30 November, where people can find out a little more about the complex world of beer, where the flavours come from and a little on the history of beer.

So not only can you have an entertaining and different evening and help a charity too.

The Farmers’ Club was founded in 1842 and is a private members' club not usually open to the public. The address is 3 Whitehall Court, London SW1A 2EL; nearest tube: Embankment.

The tasting is being undertaken by Christine Cryne, who chaired CAMRA’s 2010 Champion of Britain and is a member of the British Guild of Beer Writers. (Christine also happens to be the charity's Chief Executive).

Tickets are £28, including a buffet. The doors open from 6pm with an introductory drink with the tasting starting at 6.30pm.

The event is being supported by Greene King and Fuller’s breweries and will feature their beers plus others from small craft breweries from around the country.

Tickets are available from Isobel Kerry:; 07872 548 450 or download an application form from

I guess this is more of a general interest event rather than a tasting for the hard-core beer-geek. If you belong to the latter crowd, why not just bung them the price of a pint here.

Take a look also at this inspiring video at

Monday, 1 November 2010

Honey, I've Drunk the Beers

I think I used that header last year but you must forgive me as I have been laid low with man-flu for what seems like weeks. I am now self medicating on fine ales and am hoping that a visit to the Dark Star showcase at the Cask, Pimlico tonight will help me shake off the lurgy completely.

Back to last week when myself and two other hardy souls headed off to the National Honey Show in Weybridge to judge the honey beer category in their annual competition.

As you can see this was serious stuff and we made sure we looked the part among all of the other honey judges who were shining the lights into the jars and dipping in their tasting sticks. We joined in by sniffing, swirling and tasting the range of beers brewed with honey.

The winning beer was Fullers Organic Honey Dew. In the previous year this beer was a big disappointment with very little honey character and a slightly dirty aroma.

This year it was much improved and walked off with the gold medal for its delicate honey aroma backed up with a taste that had a perfect balance of honey and malt sweetness combined with a very low bitterness making it a very tasty beer.

Our runner up was Lovibond Wheat Wine. A completely different style of beer and very difficult to judge alongside the Fullers Honey Dew. This is a 7.3% wheat (like barley) wine brewed with a large amount of local honey to balance the use of wheat and create a beautifully tasting beer balancing the sweet honey with the complex spicy esters developed by using wheat and brewing out to over 7%.

It was a close run thing but the drinkability of the Fullers Honey Dew and the more obvious use of honey on the label gave Fullers the edge.

Another fun morning in good company in the interest of good beer. The other judges were John Porter (left) and Tim Hampson (right).

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Tafarnau Treftadaeth

Another book published this summer by CAMRA books was Real Heritage Pubs of Wales or in the native language Tafarnau Treftadaeth.

Described in CAMRA's press release as follows :

An invaluable guide to over 100 pubs in Wales with historic interiors of real national significance, some of them stretching back a century or more, collected together for the first time in this book. The product of many years of surveying by volunteer members of CAMRA who are dedicated to preserving and protecting the UK’s historic pub interiors.

Living in London, the best way to visit historic pubs is on foot. Alas in Wales the pubs are spread far and wide across the principality.

This book is the best alternative to actually visiting the pubs. It is crammed with colour photos and Mick Slaughter really should get some sort of award for his work on building a permanent historic photographic record of Britain's historic pubs.

A slim paperback with 114 pages but priced accordingly with cover price of £6.99.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Good Beer Guide 2011

CAMRA books have been busy again this summer. The most recent offering is the latest edition of the Good Beer Guide, for so long the CAMRA members' bible.

This year's book (or should that be NEXT year's book ?)is another monster. 888 pages, 4,500 pub entries and almost 800 breweries including 88 opened in the last year.

This year's book also finds space to include the sixteen regional pubs of the year and also includes the details of each of the CAMRA branch pubs of the year. There are also the names of all of the finalists in this years Champion Beer of Britain competition.

This is the 38th edition and I buy a copy each year to maintain my collection. I think it is by admission out-of-date the day it is published given the fast moving pub scene - new ones open and sometimes even good pubs close. However, I trust the selection process and its coverage nationwide is complete. It cannot include every good pub but I think it is the best guide available to give you a pointer to good pubs across the country.

The cover price is £15.99, but my copy through the CAMRA direct debit scheme was £10

I was also lucky enough to receive a review copy from my friends at CAMRA HQ though that copy is already falling apart at the seams - a slight problem with the binding.

If it is in danger of being left behind by electronic guides and social media sites it is doing its best to keep up with Sat-Nav and mobile phone versions for an extra fiver - very useful for finding pubs in country lanes.

The spine has a quote from the Independent : "indispensable" - for all of it's misgivings I still tend to agree.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

London Brewers Alliance - Video

As part of the recent London Brewers Alliance Showcase, a short video was filmed to add something different to the event. Although it was streamed throughout that evening and has been plugged on various websites since, there is a chance that one or two have not had a chance to see it.

It is my opinion that this adds a huge amount to the character of the London brewing scene by building up the various personalities involved. It helps get behind the pumpclip and builds an empathy with the hard working brewer. It also helps show the diversity that we now have in London, large and small, central and rural, brewpub and micro, keg, bottle and cask.

I think this video is another step towards rebuilding a following behind London's beers and it is well worth taking ten minutes to watch it.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Don't buy an ipad, it keeps you out of the pub

Over the next day or two, I am hoping to bring this blog up to date with everything I have made a note of in recent weeks. Nothing particularly enthralling, just a collection of random posts to remove them from the to-do list.

As I am writing two blogs, this one and the London Ale Taster, I recently bought an Ipad as I thought it would make blogging more efficient. Wrong ! A great piece of kit, though it is, I now lay in bed most of the time, checking email, following my Twitter and Facebook streams and playing stupid, STUPID games. A real virtual (beer) lifestyle.

But it's worse than that. My beer stock at home is generally for emergencies. A collection of stuff that has crossed my path over the last year or two, bottles picked up on my travels, real and virtual. Given my liking for real ale in the pub, it is for occasional use only or to share with the once-in-a-blue-moon visitor.

I haven't been to the pub for a week and I have moved the beer to the bedroom for better access. My new lifestyle means that my stocks are getting depleted.

I topped stocks up with the latest offering from - a 52 week US beer club (they send 13 bottles every quarter) but the first beers were so good they lasted about a fortnight - perhaps I needed a 365 day beer club.

I also missed the launch of the Cask Ale Report on Monday, having been ever present previously, (I didn't actually have an invite this year but that hasn't stopped me in the past). There is more good news here and the report as usual makes interesting reading. Check out author, Pete Brown's summary on his blog here.

Am I getting past it, is my work here done ? One would hope not but I need a pick-me-up to get me back to the keyboard.

In the coming days I am shaking off the sluggish manner and getting back to it. I can't promise there will be anything interesting to read here, just that there will be something to read.

I am also keen to get back to the pub and have the Sultan beer festival on my radar (held on Friday and Saturday) coupled with a visit to the Trafalgar in the same vicinity, South Wimbledon.

Cheers all.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

London Brewers Alliance Showcase

As promised, the London Brewers Alliance Showcase was held last week and enjoyed by all of the three hundred or so visitors.

I had been asked by the editor of London Drinker magazine to write a piece for the next magazine but the deadline was on the next morning. And so it was with heavy head that I dragged myself to my pc that day having thoroughly enjoyed all of the beers from the London Brewers; the Collaboration Porter, the Kernel Citra IPA and the cask strength Fullers Brewers Reserve being among the highlights for me.

I thought that writing at such a late deadline I would be among the first to share my views of the evening. Wrong of course. The internet was alive the very next day with Blogville taking full advantage of the immediacy of the platform. I think the Twittersphere was buzzing throughout the event but was still humming for days afterwards.

Thus you will still have to wait for a week or so to see the London Drinker article. In the meantime there are plenty who have described the evening more fully and eloquently than I could have

Take a look at Pencil and Spoon, Londoneer, Boggle, Beermerchants, BikesforBeer and BeerViking

You can also find them all in one place on the Facebook link I have inserted alongside.

I would be wrong to claim that I helped organise the event but I was on hand helping out on the day and am fully supporting the London Brewers in their efforts.

One area of query I have is that there have been absolutely no negative comments, not one. In my experience of CAMRA and pub festivals there are normally a few moans and groans and it is important to hear those in order to make future events bigger and better.

If anyone does have anything they wish to raise about the London Brewers Alliance Showcase please leave a comment on the blog here or email me privately to and I will ensure it is passed on.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Sheffield Tap comes to London

I have no idea if this is true. It is my own research, rumour, speculation and hearsay based upon an anonymous comment on my London Ale Taster Blog.

Are we about to see a bar in central London packed with beers from Thornbridge, Brewdog, Dark Star and Marble ?

The guys responsible for the Sheffield Tap are hooking up with the Bloomsbury Lanes people, a central London bowling alley, to open The Euston Tap.

This is taken from the Bloomsbury Lanes web-site :

Craft beer anyone? The Euston Tap is set to become a mecca for London’s beer drinkers

The team behind the Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes and Fleet River Bakery has joined up with well the known beer aficionado Jamie Hawksworth, to open a unique craft beer house in London.

The partnership has secured the stunning Grade II listed West Lodge in Euston Square, which will feature 20 draft beers from small producers.

The Euston Tap’s objective is not about stocking the wackiest beers from around the globe nor the biggest list, but a mission to bring to London the best draught real ale and craft beer available. Not an easy task, when many of the best independent breweries on the planet don’t export or have limited output.

The bar has its own website which is thin on content at the moment but it is already hooked into my favourites.

Beer lovers from London have done their (tiny) bit towards making the Sheffield Tap the stunning success that it has quickly become. That effort has brought us this reward.

Opening late October - Bring it on !

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Pub of the Year - SPBW

The Society for the Preservation of Beer from the Wood (SPBW) allows member to nominate their favorite pubs London pubs for their annual Pub of the Year competition.

Here are the 14 pubs nominated for 2010 :

Blythe Hill Tavern, Catford
Calthorpe arms, Clerkenwell
Cask Pub & Kitchen, Pimlico
Cleveland Arms, Paddington
Dog and Bell, Deptford
Eleanor Arms, Bow
Harp, Covent Garden
Hope, Carshalton
Jerusalem Tavern, Clerkenwell
Old Fountain, City Road
Royal Oak, Borough
Southampton Arms, Kentish Town
Wenlock Arms, Hoxton
Ye Olde Mitre, Holborn

Some old favourites including four past winners but six first time nominations.

As they (we ?) have such a small membership the decision making chain is much shorter than CAMRA for instance and this has the effect that pubs new to the scene or those that have improved greatly in recent months get to the top of the Pub of the Year tree much sooner.

The judging panel are on their mission and the result will be announced in the next few weeks.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Brewdog or Marble ? or Both ?

Busy week this week sees a Brewdog tasting at the Rake on Tuesday at 8pm followed by a meet the Marble brewer at the Cask, Pimlico on Wednesday.

Sometimes you can't get to every event that hits your mailbox and personally I am less enthusiastic about a thimbleful of stupid percent beer poured from a stuffed animal than I am for a bar stacked with ten beers from one of the country's finest breweries.

I have always been well impressed with beers from the Marble Brewery in Manchester and I was blown away with this one last week - found in the Southampton Arms, Gospel Oak (more about this pub later).

Marble 57, so named because it is 5.7%, (or is it the brewer's fifty seventh brew ?) gave me a real Jaipur moment. Hopefully it will be available on Wednesday at the Cask.

Like hops ? Don't miss this.

Ram Rod returns to cask

Wells and Youngs have announced a series of seasonal ales to join their regular portfolio of Young's, Courage and Charles Wells beers.

The first will be a welcome return in cask for Ram Rod, the bottled beer that was legendary in the Young's boozers of a bygone age. The mixture of Ram and Special marked a right of passage for any youthful Young's drinker - a light and bitter for grown ups !

Since the Young's pubs in London have gradually scrubbed up in recent years, bottles of Ram Rod have become scarce. My local refused to stock it as it attracted custom that they were trying to move on. The reason also that they turned the public bar into a Bellini Bar and the gents toilet into a "Ladies Pamper Room"

So I guess that the new cask Ram Rod will not be seen in my neck of the woods.
It should be around during September but also Wetherspoons will have it exclusively in October as part of their beer festival.

Ram Rod is described as a 5% amber beer, with a fruity, vinous and hoppy nose, packed full of flavour. It is full bodied with a fine balance between malt and hops.

I look forward to meeting this old friend again.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

London Brewers Alliance Showcase

Hundreds of you good people have taken a look at the photos that I took at the London brewers Brew day last week and now I assume you are interested in tasting the beer.

The London Porter that was brewed by a collaboration of London brewers has now had its final "hopping" and is ready for cask.

There are only about forty casks which will be split among the brewers so you will be very lucky if you find it on your travels.

One place you can be sure to find this one-off beer is at the London Brewers Showcase which is being held at Brew Wharf in Borough Market on 17th September.

Presented with this rare porter will be 30 or so beers from London breweries, together for the very first time at any event.

There will be a trade session from 4.30 to 6.30 and a public session from 6.30 to 10.30.

It is a one-day event and tickets are going fast so get on board before it's too late.

Further details and tickets can be found here.

The trade session is open to publicans, bars, restaurants, beer writers and bloggers who can apply for tickets here

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

London Brewers Brew Day in Pictures (6)

Not a great photo but at least it proves that the exhaustive hop debate was not wasted. The aroma hops going in at the end of the boil

Coming to the end of the day now. A final wash down of the equipment.

and running off the boiled wort into fermenting vessel. Just need to add yeast now and wait. be continued.......

London Brewers Brew Day in Pictures (5)

Much debate about hop varieties and when to introduce them to the copper - the others are joined by Evin O'Riordain (Kernel Brewery) [right]

It's dirty work but someone has to do it. Phil (Brew Wharf), Derek (Fullers) and Paddy (Windson & Eton) show they are not afraid to get their hands dirty as they shovel out the mash tun.

Let it not be said that I did not contribute. I tied up the bags of spent grains so that they could be transported safely to the local garden centre for compost.

London Brewers Brew Day in Pictures (4)

Phil (Brew Wharf) agrees that it's all going well.

and Paddy (Windsor & Eton) agrees with Derek and Phil that it's time for some hops.

London Brewers Brew Day in Pictures (3)

I include this photo solely for completeness. I have no idea what is going on. Personally I think it is an elaborate excuse as to why a pair of lady's tights were found in the brewery. Must have some basis in fact though because the boys from Fullers said that being a more traditional brewery they prefer to use stockings and suspenders.

The wort is now in the copper and a vigourous boil was needed. Perhaps not this vigourously though as the kettle was quickly bubbling over.

Derek (Fullers) says its ok though.

London Brewers Brew Day in Pictures (2)

Andy (Redemption) is in charge of filling the mash tun.

Derek Prentice (Fullers) and Andy (Redemption) agree that the mash is in good shape.

It's starting to look like beer now and demands a taste of the warm, sweet wort. Derek (Fullers) gets his nose in while Brent (Meantime) and the Zero Degrees brewer (whose name I have unforgiveably forgotten) watch on and wait to give their considered opinion.

London Brewers Brew Day in Pictures (1)

Phil Lowry (Brew Wharf), Andy Moffatt and Andy (surname ?) (Redemption) select the finest malts.

Tom Madeiros (Twickenham) pours the malt into the grist case.

Just time for a team photo as the mash tun fills.

London Brewers Collaborative Porter

Yesterday, I spent the day in the company of the London Brewers Alliance as they brewed a special beer for their first collaborative event being held at Brew Wharf in Borough Market on 17th September. (Ticket news is coming soon on

10 brewers from 8 of London's breweries gathered at Redemption Brewery in Tottenham and spent the day brewing a traditional London Porter with five malts and four hops with a strength of 5.3%.

Sometimes words are too little to describe such an enjoyable day and I will post the photos here over the course of today - they tell the real story of a day of collaboration, friendship, mutual respect, ambition and a willingness to share, to teach and to learn.

One day, ten brewers, eight breweries, one beer, one city .....

Oh, and one journalist, one blogger/London Ale Taster and one CAMRA brewery liaison officer to make sure it was all done properly.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Woodies or Egham ?

Choices, choices, choices. This week sees two of my favourite events that both deserve a shout-out.

Firstly Woodies in New Malden are hosting their 6th Beer Festival and Gala Weekend from Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd with 60 or so beers set up in a marquee on the field in front of the pub. Details and beer list can be found at

The highlights on the list for me include four beers from both Ascot and Brodies Breweries including Ascot Triple Trouble 7%, a Belgian style beer and Brodies Superior London Porter 7.2%.

The Egham United Services Club is having another beer festival over the same weekend, starting on Thursday 19th and running until Sunday 22nd. The details and beer list can be found at

Highlights for me here are beers from the Windsor & Eton Brewery and five beers from Pitstop Brewery including Hop, the bitterest beer in the world at over 500 EBUs.

My mission is to get out to both but realistically I may have to choose one or the other.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Lagerboy at GBBF

I have always been a bit coy when asked about lager at the Great British Beer Festival. Firstly I don't know much about what is on offer and secondly I don't like taking the focus away from the main issue being the real ale there.

In the last week I have overcome the first issue. After a "toys out of pram" moment in the press office, I set off to find alternative employment quickly bumping into the foreign bar manager (that's the manager of the foreign bar) and asked him if he needed help for a couple of hours. "We can always use a spare pair of hands on the German/Czech bar on a Friday night" he grinned and off I went to learn more about lagerboys (and girls) at GBBF.

It was the hardest I worked all week. With about 30 draft beers from Germany and Czech Republic on offer, I had to quickly learn the system for finding out where each one was as the customers were coming thick and fast. I know Friday is probably the busiest night but this was unrelenting. I poured beer after beer for just over two hours. Long queues of customers forming for the best that Germany and CR has to offer at £4.20 a pint or £3.50 for bottles, the preference being more for Budvar or Jever than the other fifty German regionals in the fridge. People were thirsty and we were doing our best to accommodate them as quickly as possible.

So this is where that lager-heads hang out; just as friendly as the beer tickers but probably an average of a generation younger and all happy to pay a pound a pint more than those enjoying the real ales.

A most enjoyable and eye-opening session and I had lost my Bieres Sans Frontieres virginity but I was relieved to be relieved and set off to the auction at the stage where further help was needed taking and counting the money - much more my style.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Green Man

A long week at Great British Beer Festival with much to share over the coming days.

Long time readers of this blog may remember that one of the first themes I wrote about some two years ago was the current trend to modernise pub signs.

I wrote a small piece here about this sign which had appeared at the Green Man in Putney Heath.
At the time it was clear that the regular drinkers at the pub were none too impressed with this illustration of the pub's historic name and there were moves afoot to make their dissatisfaction known to the pub's owners, Young's.

I passed the pub each night last week on my ride home from the Great British Beer Festival and noticed that the old sign, the one that was in situ before the gingerbread man, had reappeared.

In my CAMRA life, I have always been a fan of local campaigning, beer drinkers making their views known. If there is little to be gained by keeping the status quo, the pub operating companies can get a little more respect by bending their views a little in the face of customer concerns.

Bravo to the beer drinkers in the Green Man for making noise and bravo to Young's for accommodating their request.

Personally I am not sure which one I prefer but that is another story.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

London Ale Taster

My efforts on this blog this week are going to be directed towards the Great British Beer Festival but this post is to let people know that I have also started my official duties as The London Ale Taster and have kicked off a year long walk around London's pubs which I will be blogging about at

I would really eppreciate it if you would take a look at the new blog and give me some direction, let me know if I am on the right track and generally support my efforts.

If you don't like it, stay tuned here, where I will be continuing with the usual news, views and general beery stuff through the coming year.

Friday, 30 July 2010

CAMRA Bans Sandals from GBBF

Yes, it's true. The safety guidelines for all volunteer staff now state that "sensible" footwear must be worn on the "working floor" at all times that the festival is open to the public. Any footwear which has an open toe or high heels is unsuitable. Volunteers who present themselves wearing such footwear may not be permitted to work in these areas and may be re-deployed elsewhere.

And that does not mean redeployment to the GBBF Press Office as we have banned sandals for years - though more for PR and aesthetic reasons than health and safety.

For the avoidance of doubt, all customers ARE permitted to wear their sandals and high heels. Socks, shorts, fleeces, anoraks, beery T-shirts, silly hats, panda-pop bottles, beards and bellies are also most welcome.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Great British Beer Festival

The Great British Beer Festival will be held as usual at Earls Court in the first week of August, opening with a trade session at noon on Tuesday 3rd August, and open to the public from 5pm, then every day from noon (11am Sat) until close at 7pm on Saturday 7th.

GBBF website is here

On-line tickets are available here

Foreign beer lists are here

British real ales are here

Trade session tickets are available here

A Girls Guide to Beer tickets are here

A very good preview printed in last week's Publican is here

I will be there all week helping out in the Press and Publicity Office. If anyone needs any information or help just drop me a line - beerjustice at - or Twitter @beerjustice or @gbbf

Monday, 19 July 2010

Real Ale in Ambridge

There are many lengths that I will go to to bring news and recommendations to this blog. However, a step too far is to tune in to the Archers on Radio 4.

I understand that there is a real ale storyline running presently in the radio soap but you will have to follow it up yourselves on BBC's iplayer or wait for one of the northern folk to post it on their blog.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Nicholson's Pubs

One chain of London pubs that has improved in leaps and bounds in recent years is Nicholson's, part of the M&B empire. They have always owned some (most ?) of the most historic pubs in London but traditionally had a reputation as tourist traps with warm, badly kept beer served by inexperienced staff at high prices.

Well, someone is now doing the right thing with these great pubs. A few years ago a decision was made to make these pubs a haven for fine ale. Firstly the quality improved, the staff were all made to be trained by leading brewers, cellar to bar fittings were updated, the beer was given a major focus so throughput increased and some old hardy favourites such as London Pride and Timothy Taylor Landlord were made permanent beers at very keen prices for the Capital.

More recently things have improved again. A much wider choice is now available in many of the pubs and those in charge are obviously right on the button as far as consumer choice is concerned.

Lately, beer lists of the Summer Ale List have appeared outside the pubs with the pub's current offerings ticked on the list. Passing the Princess of Wales in Villiers Street WC2 other day day, I was enticed inside by a tick in the box for Thornbridge Wild Swan. One of my current favourite beers, very pale coloured with a distinct flavoursome hop character and only 3.5% - perfect for a summer evening.

Inside, supping my fresh and cool pint, I discovered the list in booklet form. The beers for summer are listed in their categories, session ales, blondes, IPAs, dark and speciality beers and the choices include Rudgate Viking, Adnams Regatta, Morrissey Fox Aussie IPA (hope to find that one), St Austell Proper Job (another of the finest around) and Brian Turner Golden Ale, a beer created by the celebrity chef together with Thornbridge.

The wine list is in its rightful place at the rear of the booklet together with the seasonal offerings such as Pimms and Crabbies alcoholic ginger beer.

So another of my recommendations for the rest of the summer is a London Nicholson's Pub. Not only some of the finest pub architecture in the world but now some of the finest beer too. Cheers.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Slovakian Beer

Not only did I fail to get my world Cup Sweepstake posting finished in time I also left it unfinished in my haste to get to some paid work yesterday. The bits I did not include are :

The local shop web-site for all things Czech and Slovak is

The beer Zlaty Bazant translates as Golden Pheasant - hence the bird on the can.

The beer itself is an acceptable quaffing lager. It is the first tin of beer I have drunk in this country for at least ten years. When are craft brewers here going to realise that canning is no longer a great Satan ?

On the can in large gold lettering are the number - 10%. Though the shopkeeper tried to persuade me that this is the amount of hops in the beer I knew it was a scale which measures the amount of sugar left in the fermentable wort and is an indication of strength. The Czechs/Slovaks use the Balling scale which is similar to degrees Plato and to reach the ABV you need to multiply by .4. This means a 10 per cent degrees Plato or Balling is about 4% ABV and a 12% beer is about 4.8%. In tiny print on the back of the can it suggests 4.3% ABV. The can is well packaged and eye catching. Perhaps the marketeers think that by putting 10% in large gold lettering on the front and 4.3% in tiny print at the rear it will help sell the beer - I think not.

That's it. A post of two halves and not exactly match of the day.

Bring on the footie season and come on you R's

Monday, 12 July 2010

World Cup Beer Sweepstake - Slovakia

It took about half an hour of the first game against USA for England fans to realise that the tournament would end in failure. It took me slightly longer but my effort to join in the beer bloggers world cup sweepstake has also ended in failure.

Six weeks ago, beer bloggers worldwide were invited to join the sweepstake. Each blog would be given a random team from the world cup and be expected to write a blog about beer from that country. We were given plenty of time and the deadline to post the blog was the final whistle of last night's final match. I have clearly failed too.

Those who drew out teams like Honduras and North Korea were in real trouble even getting hold of some beer let alone writing about it. My team was Slovakia which being next door to Czech Republic I had thought would have a wide choice. I was mistaken but a local beer could not have been easier to find - at the end of the street in fact.

Like many newsagents, the one nearest my house has in recent years become more of a mini grocery providing emergency staples like milk and bread saving the inconvenience and time of a walk to the supermarkets. Many of these newsagents in the vicinity have taken to selling authentic Polish produce due to the opening up of Euro borders. My local has two flags on the shopfront, one for Czech Republic and one, luckily of me, for Slovakia.
It could not have been easier for me to pass by the fridge while topping up my oyster to pick up a beer or two from Slovakia and still I failed.

I was engrossed in the tournament, match by match went by without a beer. Slovakia left the tournament a day after England and still I could not be arsed to drink it. Once England had gone and that emotional connection had gone, I started to really enjoy the competition. We knew having seen the football played by Germany, Spain, Holland, Argentina and Brazil that England, like this blog, were well off the pace and not capable of winning the big prize.

And so it was left to the final, Spain v Holland and a cheeky Slovakian beer. I dropped in on the newsagent and picked up a can of Zlaty Bazant, the country's leading brand and settled down to enjoy it in front of the match intending to write about the experience after the final whistle. Well extra time came and went, the stalemate was broken by a winning goal to Spain, the presentation took a while and once I had settled down to watch the after proceedings with James Corden the moment and my deadline had passed and to bed I climbed to dream about the day that I too scored the winner in the world cup final.
So here I am, early morning, paying lip service to the competition, and writing my entry for world cup beer sweepstake. This blog will never be a prize winner. I come from a finance background, more creative accounting than creative writing but I do like to play my part and be involved.

The beer ? Well as you might expect, a light pilsner style - is there such a style ? Perhaps light lager might describe better. My beer was 10% - not by volume but on the Czech Balling scale and about 4%. I gather from Adrian Tierney Jones 1001 Beers book that the brewery also do a 12% beer at 4.8% a more traditional strength for bohemian pilsner. My beer was clearly the "vier" version and suffered with lack of body and flavour for that reason.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Make Mine a Pint @ RSC

If the Great British Beer Festival is getting a bit exhausting by the time you get to Thursday check out a free lecture being hosted by the Royal Society of Chemistry at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1 0BA from 6.30 to 8.30pm on 5 August.

Paul Hughes, Director of the Institute for Brewing and Distilling will be presenting his talk titled Make Mine a Pint as he considers 10,000 years of beer evolution, from a dietary staple to a social lubricant.

Whilst the origins of beer have been lost in prehistory, one of its undoubted successes was due its reliability as a potable source of water. One highly publicised example of this was the apparent immunity of the employees of the Broad Street Brewery during the breakout of the 1854 cholera epidemic.

His presentation will review the historical development of beer, and explore the underlying features of beer production and composition that have help to make beer a safe alternative to water. Additionally, he will consider the ongoing debate concerning beer and health as beer, at least in the western world, has evolved into an elective choice for consumers.

The seminar is free though pre-booking is required at

Friday, 9 July 2010

National Archives - Pub History Podcasts

You may remember me mentioning the Pub History Society Conference that was held earlier in the year at the National Archives in Kew. I have just discovered that two of the talks given at that seminar are now available as podcasts.

You can find my original posting about the conference here.

Two of the talks : Women, Darts and the Pub in the Inter-war Period and Lost London Pubs can now be listened to through the National Archives website here.

I haven't listened to the podcasts yet but remember an excellent conference and hopefully you will find them of some interest.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Ealing Beer Festival

My beery recommendation this week will take you to Walpole Park, Ealing where West Middlesex CAMRA are hosting the twenty first Ealing Beer Festival.

Over 170 cask ales will be there including plenty of fruit beers from Coach House Brewery and rare casks of Fuller's Porter and Vintage (2009). I will be seeking out the Grateful Deaf beer from Yorkshire's Elland Brewery; a true American pale ale created by Ken Fisher of the Grateful Deaf Brewing Society based in Oregon. Ken is a regular visitor to the Great British Beer Festival and I am expecting his liaison with the superb Elland brewery to be something special.

There will be the usual mix of ciders and perries for those odd-folk who prefer them (no comment from me). The foreign beer bar has been excellent in past years and I expect it to have a good range from Belgiuum, Germany and Holland including a Dutch mushroom beer for the real fun guys and the legendary Rochefort 10 from Belgium - one of the World's greatest beers.

The festival is open from Wednesday 7th July to Saturday 10th and is a short walk from Ealing Broadway station. Directions are clear on the web-site. Free entry for CAMRA members before 4pm. If it stays dry and the sun comes out, I recommend a visit - see you there perhaps.

Monday, 5 July 2010

London Pride Walk

On Sunday I pitched up to help the Cancer Research UK team who organise the London Pride Walk in Chiswick each year.

The walk starts at Fuller's Brewery and follows the river as far as Chiswick Bridge to the south, crosses the river, follows the south of the river northwards to Hammersmith, over the river again and back to Fullers southbound along the north bank - are those directions clear ?

Ten kilometres, give or take, which most of the four hundred participants take as a leisurely, picturesque walk, though the more energetic run the distance to get back to Fuller's Brewery to rehydrate with London Pride and get an early go at the barbecue, raffle, cakes etc.

The really energetic take a long while to get back. Indeed some don't make it round the route at all. It is unsurprising given the quality of some of the pubs along the route that the most hardy get waylaid. The Ship in Mortlake, the White Hart and Bull's Head in Barnes, the excellent pubs on Hammersmith riverside all took in strays. Those who managed to pass all of those could not resist the Dove, one of London's famous watering holes and a refuge for Fuller's Ales to refresh on the warmest day of the year.

My part was played on the park next to the brewery, helping with supporting the admin and registration team so I did not get to see any riverside pubs. I did not go thirsty though as the clear attraction of the event for me can be supported by these photos.

This is an annual event, volunteer led by Cancer Research UK and Hammersmith Hospital with much tangible support by Richard Fuller, Fuller's Brewery and all of the Fuller's team. Everyone should show much Pride that over a million pounds has been raised over sixteen years. I will definitely flag this date earlier next year and will hopefully see more of my friends along the route.

The runners race off in a chase for a pint of London Pride

Thursday, 1 July 2010

US beers at

I'm continuing on a theme of American Craft Beer as we lead up to Independence Day and the US beer festival at White Horse, Parson's Green at the end of the week.

I am pleased to report that now offers some American beers as part of their ever growing range.

They now list full cases from Anchor, Brooklyn, Dogfishhead, Flying Dog, Goose Island, Sierra Nevada and Victory as well as a selection of mixed cases.

They are continually adding some of the best UK breweries such as Dark Star, Thornbridge, Marble and Saltaire and together with their new range of US beers, it makes myBrewerytap an essential visit in one's quest for good beer by mail order. is fast becoming another hero for the armchair beer drinker in the hunt for great beer.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Goose Island 312

One of the beers at the James Clay tasting recently was the IPA from Goose Island. This beer is becoming an essential inclusion on many beer lists that have a sprinkling of US beers and I recommend it if you see it.

However, I now learn that there has been a very high level beer swap at the recent G20 Conference. Following the honourable draw in the World Cup between England and USA, it seems that our Prime Minister has swapped his favourite beer, Wychwood Hobgoblin, brewed in his Witney constituency and in return has received President Obama's favourite cold one from his own Chicago constituency, Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Ale, described as an English style wheat beer (sic), straw coloured with ripe lemon aromas from Cascade and Liberty hops.

Sadly, each leader got their beer just in time to start crying into it, since both England and the USA were knocked out later that weekend.

I leave you to decide who got the best deal but I don't suppose either will be blogging about the beer though you never know with Cameron's history of video blogging.

Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Ale will be available at and good independent retailers from mid-August.

Catch a video of the high powered beer swap here. oh, and check out the comments on the CNN web-site below the video - great stuff !

American Craft Beer Revolution

I am clearing my desk with a renewed vigour and am intending to either "blog it or bin it". A month or two ago I was invited to the White Horse, Parsons Green by beer importers, James Clay, to taste the latest in American craft beers arriving to mainstream London.

Beers from Brooklyn Brewery are coming to town. You may be lucky enough to find the lager on draught in some high end London pubs and bars and some of the more eclectic bottles are available by mail order at notably a 10.1 ABV Chocolate Stout, usually one of their classic IPAs and the delicious Brown Ale.

Other beers that were at the tasting and now imported by James Clay included offerings from Anchor (the classic Steam Beer), Flying Dog (try the Raging Bitch and Gonzo Imperial Porter if only for the names alone) and Goose Island (the IPA is gaining ground on the bar shelf and has my hearty recommendation).

The US craft beer revolution is hitting these shores and James Clay, Brooklyn Brewery and the White Horse are all doing their bit for the UK beer lover.

It is timely to also point out that the annual US Beer beer festival is being held this week at the White Horse. This is an absolutely unmissable event in the beer geek diary and I look forward to seeing Sierra Nevada, Anchor, Dogfishhead, Goose Island, Flying Dog, Brooklyn, Left Hand and Stone all represented on Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Fullers Fine Ale Club

Going through my mailbox, I notice that Fullers Fine Ale Club are asking all members to renew their membership to confirm that all members still wish to be members after the first ten years of the club.

This is timely to remind people that membership is free and comes with a free quarterly magazine to keep up-to-date with the beers coming out of the Griffin Brewery in Chiswick as well as various competitions, guest writers, events, merchandise etc.

Joining is as easy as ordering a pint. Follow the link or ring 08456 447663.

and, did I mention ? membership is free !

Thursday, 24 June 2010

London's Secret Brewery

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the now mothballed Ram Brewery in Wandsworth, formerly the Young's Brewery which was sold to property company, Minerva, in 2006 for £69 million.

Much of the brewing equipment has been scrapped during the decommission but there is plenty that remains in situ much of it awaiting review by English Heritage to determine whether any of it should be preserved.

I have also seen the architects models of the planned redevelopment and can say that it intends to make as much of the brewing heritage as possible. The intention is to build two mainly residential tower blocks of 29 - 39 stories at the rear of the site (the stable end for those who know it) while the front of the site will be more open courtyard overlooked by the old brewery. They are restrained to a certain extent by the listed building status on the old brewery, the brewer's house, the beam engines, the chimney and the stable house so will be building the around the existing plant and buildings where necessary. It is intended that there will be a brewing museum on-site and a microbrewery - which may be operated by Young's.

To this end, I can let you into a little secret.

Brewing has been continuous in the brewery since Young's departed for Bedford.

John Hatch, one of the Young's brewing team was retained as site-manager by the owners, Minerva and was charged with making sure that brewing continues in the interim period until any microbrewery or brewpub can be developed.

John set to his task with gusto salvaging any parts of the brewing kit that the scrap merchants refused; begging, borrowing and simply making do to build a tiny brewing plant.

For example the brewing kettle was cobbled together using the cut-off tea urn from the canteen.

John has put together a quarter barrel brewery and has been brewing 72 pints a week. The beer is used by Minerva for company meetings and John sometimes hosts small gatherings for the friends of the brewery.

Sad as it was to see the old Young's brewery disappear and I know that not everyone agrees with me that it was unavoidable, I now raise a glass to brewing in Wandsworth and am encouraged by the enthusiasm that Minerva are showing with regard to the brewing heritage of the site. It is expected that the planning permission will be approved in the next month or so after which we will start seeing the redevelopment.

I hope we will eventually see the pub on the corner re-opening, another new brewery for London and a Ram Brewery museum.