Food & Drink

Bottoms up! From traditional tipples to beer bread, Wimbledon Brewery ready to celebrate London Beer Week

From classic ales to beer pork pies – Wimbledon Brewery is set to play its part in the celebration of London Beer Week 2016 in a unique way.

London Beer Week is returning for its second year, and is set to take over the city from February 22-28 in a celebration of beers, ales, lagers and ciders alike.

Although brewing only began in July 2015, Wimbledon Brewery now sells 15,000 pints per week in more than 200 pubs in the nearby area.

Among the somewhat wacky ale flavours that are available today like chocolate orange, fruitcake and banana beer, the brewery is staying loyal to their heritage and keeping things traditional with their easy-to-drink ales.

“The first thing I want to do is become something that the people of Merton can be proud of and that they can feel some ownership over,” said founder Mark Gordon.

“If we get it right, the local brewery can be like the local football team – people will support it.”

In an exciting new partnership, Wimbledon Brewery is teaming up with Millers’ Bakery to produce a beer bread.

They are also working with the only remaining cheddar manufacturer in Cheddar Gorge – who still matures his cheddar in a cave – to produce an exclusive beer cheese.

“There’s also a man who supplies the best pork pies in the country, and he’s helping us make beer pork pies”, Mark added.

“But I always have to order more when we get them because the staff eat them!”

Originally based in Wimbledon Village, the brewery opened in 1832 in Wimbledon High Street.

The famous five-storey tower was built in the early 1880s by William Quartermaine, only for it to be consumed by fire in 1889.

Wimbledon Brewery was then non-existent until Mark decided to revive 183 years of history, as it rose from the ashes to begin brewing again on their new site at College Fields, Prince George’s Road, Wimbledon.

Mark said: “We want to be known and drank around SW19 and Merton.

“There’s a real resurgence in the interest in beer now. There are 80 breweries in London alone, if you go back 15 years there were only about six.

“I hope we are now in a position where we can talk about it being a local success story.”

By Mark’s side is master brewer Derek Prentice, who has 46 years of professional brewing experience, and has worked for brewers such as Young’s and Truman’s.

Wimbledon breweryMARK AND DEREK: Cheers for the beers guys

Together they have brewed core ales Common PA, Tower PA and Quartermaine IPA, all named with the history of the brewery in mind.

The Common PA is named after Wimbledon Common, the Tower PA in recognition of the famous brewery tower that was claimed by the fire, and Quartermaine PA was named tribute to previous owner William Quartermaine.

Mark prides his brewery on creating traditional ales that are quintessentially English.

Just last month, the brewery took another step into the past and brewed their own Phoenix Smoked Porter, to remember their illustrious history.

“It commemorates the brewery fire, which is why it’s called Phoenix, and why it’s smoked,” Mark said.

Wimbledon brewery logo, Mark Gordon

HERITAGE AND HISTORY: The logo represents the old brewery tower 

“The original brewery would have been brewing porters, which would have been the most popular drink in Wimbledon at the time – everybody drank porter.

“What we’re seeing with the majority of the new breweries, the micro breweries, there are a lot of flavours that are relatively new to the British market, and those beers can be quite extreme.

“We stay away from those extremes; we’re not really into the unusual market.”

Mark and Wimbledon Brewery have not stopped with just brewing ales and dipping into the food market.

They have also teamed with Sunderland-based company Brewlab, an education provider for brewers, to hold lessons in the brewery classroom led by master brewer Derek.

“We also host beer appreciation days here, which is for the amateur beer enthusiast to learn about how we brew our beer, they get to taste the samples and it’s interesting to see how well matched some foods are with certain beers,” Mark said.

“Appreciation days are well known for wine but less so for beer, so that’s quite unique.”

Anyone hoping to celebrate London Beer Week will be assured of a warm welcome from Mark and all at Wimbledon Brewery.

“The best time to come to our brewery to celebrate cask ale and all things English is on the day of the England V Ireland rugby match on the February 27,” said Mark, who will be showing the remainder of England’s Six Nations matches in the brewery.

For £20 you can get a pre-match brewery tour and beer tasting session, two pints of beer, and access to a barbecue serving  beer burgers from London-based Moen Butchers.

“It will be a great opportunity to come down and drink some beer in an environment with a lot of like minded people,” said Mark.

“It’s a great celebration of all things English – especially if we win!”

Images courtesy of Mark Gordon, with thanks

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