Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Brakspear brewing again after 11 years

BRAKSPEAR is to begin brewing in Henley again — on a miniature scale.

BRAKSPEAR is to begin brewing in Henley again — on a miniature scale.

The company is opening a micro-brewery inside the Bull pub in Bell Street, which was recently refurbished.

The move comes almost 11 years after Brakspear closed its brewery in New Street with the loss of 35 jobs.

The microbrewery will produce four barrels of Brakspear Special each week, which will be sold in the Bull and other selected Brakspear pubs in the town.

The ale, a 4.3 per cent classic bitter, used to be made at the company’s original brewery in Bell Street, which was founded by William Brakspear in 1711.

The process will be overseen by Malcolm Mayo, former quality manager at the Wychwood Brewery in Witney, where Brakspear beers have been made under licence since 2004.He said: “Having been involved with Brakspear Special for many years, I’ve enjoyed playing a part in its move back to Henley.

“Recreating it in new surroundings has been a relatively smooth process with the first trial brew coming out almost spot on.

“Although the process is slightly different here, in that there is no whirlpool and the system uses whole hops, the principles are the same.

“We’ve done some refining and now have a beer that is Brakspear Special as it was meant to be — a classic, well-balanced English bitter.” Tom Davies, chief executive of Brakspear, said: “Brewing was as much a part of the Brakspear business as pubs until the sale of the brewery in 2002 and cask ale is still a vital part of our pubs’ appeal.

“Brakspear Special achieved near-legendary status in and around Henley, so bringing it back to the town and restoring the link between brewery and pubs seems the right move and one which has been welcomed locally.

“It feels great for Brakspear to be brewing again.

“We’re delighted that Malcolm has come on board to brew Brakspear Special for us — there is nobody in the country with a better understanding of the beer and how to brew it.

“We’re keen to make the brewery an integral part of the Bull. With training, everyone at the pub will understand how Brakspear Special is produced and will take great pride in selling it to their customers.”

Brakspear Special was created as a special version of the 3.5 per cent Brakspear Bitter and was brewed from the same ingredients, including fuggles and goldings hops, but delivering a more intense flavour.

In May 2002, Croydon pub company J T Davies bought a 27.7 per cent stake in Brakspear and two months later, the company called time on its brewing tradition in Henley.

It blamed declining beer sales, market conditions and the high cost of maintaining the site.

Brakspear sold the licence to beer sales and marketing company Refresh UK, which then owned the Wychwood Brewery, while the Henley brewery was sold and became Hotel du Vin.

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