Brewery news – May 2019


Following Network Rail’s recent sale of their railway arches to the private equity company Blackstone, an organisation called Guardians of the Arches has been set up by sitting tenants across London to engage with the new owners to keep the arches sustainable and affordable. There is concern that Transport for London, who also own a number of railway arches, are using the sale to Blackstone as an excuse to increase their rents and that Blackstone themselves will do the same. There was a meeting on 25 March, organised by Pete Hills of Hackney Brewery when the Guardians, along with the East End Trades Guild, met with the Mayors of Hackney and Tower Hamlets to discuss the situation.


Big Smoke have completed their move from behind the Antelope in Surbiton to a 5,000 square foot site on an industrial estate in Esher. The new 33-hectolitre brewery plant, along with six 65 hectolitre fermenters, will increase capacity fourfold and a high-speed canning line has also been installed. There is also an on-site taproom for tours and tastings. Co-founder James Morgan said, “We’ve gradually built up a loyal following and the new brewery allows us to distribute nationally and target both the off and on-trade whilst maintaining control of our process and achieving a high quality, consistent product. We will continue to make the kind of beer that we like to drink – refreshing, balanced and flavoursome using sustainably sourced ingredients.”


North London brewers of traditional Bohemian-style lagers, Bohem, have collaborated with St Austell to produce Otakar Brut Lager (6.4% ABV). It was brewed in London by Bohem’s Petr Skocek and St Austell’s Roger Ryman using the decoction method. The yeast is the one with which St Austell brew their Korev lager and the malts are Pilsner, Cara Gold, Acid Malt plus maize. The hops are Magnum, Hersbrucker and Saaz, and it is dry hopped with Nelson Sauvin which gives lemon and grapefruit notes. The beer, which is lagered at low temperature for six weeks, takes its name from a number of kings of Bohemia. It has been produced as a limited single run and is available in both keg and can.


Brewing kit has been delivered to the Black Dog Beer House in Brentford and they hope to start brewing in June.


The major Australian brewery, Lion, has taken over the Huddersfield based Magic Rock brewery. I was surprised to read that Lion already own Fourpure in Bermondsey. This happened in July 2018 but somehow I missed it at the time.


I have not seen a formal announcement but I understand that the vote at the Extraordinary General Meeting was 90% in favour of the sale. There were some protests. Asahi have announced that Fuller’s brands now form part of their portfolio, along with Peroni, Kozel and Meantime and will be marketed across Europe.
Fuller’s head brewer, Georgina Young, has moved on, or more accurately, back. Having begun her career with Smiles Brewery in her home town of Bristol, she is returning there to be head brewer for Bath Ales at their Hare Brewery in the suburb of Warmley. The brewery, which opened a year ago, has a shop and tap room and George, as she is usually known, will be in charge of all aspects of the brewing and packaging operation.


Owner and head brewer, Andy Hayward has confirmed that the brewery is about to move to their new premises, a former Sea Cadets building on the riverside near Staines Bridge. As well as the brewery, it will have a viewing and tasting area downstairs, a full bar with balcony upstairs plus a riverside garden. There will be a stage upstairs for live music events. There are still last minute jobs to do, especially as the building had been empty for six years, but Andy hopes to open mid to late June. Andy is also very kindly offering a 10% discount on real ales upon production of a current CAMRA membership card.


Sambrook’s are resurrecting their ‘Beer by the River’ event and this will be held on Saturday 13 July within the old brewery site in Wandsworth. They will also be holding their Summer Party at the brewery on Saturday 8 June which will see the reappearance of their most popular seasonal beer, Lavender Hill.
Peter Sutcliffe


Congratulations to Wimbledon Brewery who won two Gold medals at the recent International Brewing Awards. They were for Copper Leaf in class 2 of the cask ale competition (3.9% to 4.3% ABV) and Wimbledon Pale in class 1 of the keg ale competition (2.9% to 4.4% ABV). The awards ceremony was held at the City of London Guildhall on 1 May.
Compiled by Tony Hedger