- Shepherd Neame (1698)
- Goacher's (1983)
- Larkins (1987)
- Nelson (1995)
- Hopdaemon (2000)
- Swan On The Green (2000)
- Millis (2002)
- Ramsgate aka Gadds (2002)
Ten Years Ago
- Whitstable (2003)
- Westerham (2004)
Five Years Ago
- Moodleys (2008)
- Old Dairy (2009)
- Wantsum (2009)
- Abigale (2010)
- The Canterbury Ales (2010)
- Farriers Arms (2010)
- Kent (2010)
- Royal Tunbridge Wells (2010)
- Tonbridge (2010)
- Black Cat (2011)
- Canterbury (2011)
- Hop Fuzz (2011)
- Rockin’ Robin (2011)
- Caveman (2012)
- Goody (2012)
- Ripple Steam Brewery (2012)
- Tir Dha Ghlas Brewery (2012)
Thus spake Eeyore.
There has been a long history of takeovers and buyouts, so that what appear to be different brands are in fact Marstons or Whitbreads, and choice of beer has been more limited than it has appeared - Fuller's or Gales'? Same difference? Plus it's one thing to supply your own pub (The Black Cat, The Foundry, Farriers Arms etc), quite another to scale up to supply several pubs or produce sufficient beer for TesMorrRoseBury's.
I don't know precisely what is going on with The Royal Tunbridge Wells Brewery, but a Facebook post this morning stated "the brewery is currently shut. I have several options for the future of the brewery which I am pursuing. Plans are to be back up and running in due course." I'm hoping that the brewery can continue.
The brewery is based in Tunbridge Wells (obviously - but Whitstable isn't in the Bubble) and started in 2010 as a collaboration between Simon Lewis and retired brewer Ian Dormon, from the previous Royal Tunbridge Wells brewery, closed 1983.
I've had a number of their beers - I think there was a green hop, but I've also had a Dipper (3.7%), a Royal (4.1%), a Beau (4.8%), a Helles (5%) and, most recently, a Golden Ticket (5%), I think my favourite. I hope they can continue in some form.
- Abigale (Ashford) (2010)
- Black Cat (Tunbridge Wells) – Brewpub (2011)
- Canterbury (Canterbury) – Brewpub – an ever-changing range, most of which I like (2011)
- The Canterbury Ales (Canterbury) – not quite sure about them, only liked a couple (2010)
- Caveman (Swanscombe) – Brewpub – fantastic first beer, Citra (2012)
- Farriers Arms (Ashford) – Brewpub (2010)
- Goacher's (Maidstone) (1983)
- Goody (Herne) – have potential, not quite there (2012)
- Hop Fuzz (Hythe) – shaky start, but some interesting beers (2011)
- Hopdaemon (Sittingbourne) – Incubus is my standard drink, Golden Braid is good, Skrimshander pretty good (2000)
- Kent (West Malling) – want more of this, love them (2010)
- Larkins (Edenbridge) - uses the original Royal Tunbridge Wells brewery equipment (1987)
- Millis (Dartford) (2002)
- Moodleys (Penshurst) (2008)
- Nelson (Chatham) – not really a fan (1995 as Flagship; Nelson since 2004)
- Old Dairy (Cranbrook) – hit and miss, I fear, more hits than misses (2009)
- Ramsgate aka Gadds (Broadstairs) – well-established, trustable brand (2002)
- Ripple Steam Brewery (Dover) – interesting start (2012)
- Rockin’ Robin (Maidstone) (2011)
- Royal Tunbridge Wells (Tunbridge Wells) (2010)
- Shepherd Neame (Faversham) – never really liked, some of the seasonals are ok, as is Spitfire in bottles (1698)
- Swan On The Green (West Peckham, Maidstone) – Brewpub (2000)
- Tir Dha Ghlas Brewery (Dover) – Brewpub or Brewbistro (2012)
- Tonbridge (Tonbridge) (2010)
- Wantsum (Canterbury) – hit and miss, not really sure yet (2009)
- Westerham (Edenbridge) – mixed experiences, better draught than bottle (2004)
- Whitstable (Maidstone) – some really good beers, but go off easily (2003)
I had counted something in the region of twenty breweries in the Kent area, a third or so of them relatively new, and it occurred to me that there was something interesting in local produce and small enterprises. There's something to be researched. I am surrounded by hops, a key ingredient of beer, and I am a few miles from Wye, a centre of hop research.
I'd recently had a bit of a health scare, and was on a diet, and had to cut down drinking so ... it made sense to try and make each pint count. It occurred to me I knew little about beer - it had yeast and hops and malt and water and came in pints, and some I liked and some I didn't, and there were once six big companies which had been broken by the revision of the laws about tying pubs to breweries and ... that was about I. I liked Theakstons and Youngers and Timothy Taylor, and would regard myself as a Northern drinker, stranded in Enemy Territory.
Growing up I would have shandies with Watney's Red Barrel or Watney's Pale Ale, and occasionally sampled and disliked Home Ales and Shipstones, the two Nottingham breweries; I later tried and didn't like Mansfield Bitter. My underage drinking was lager, which I found hard to drink because it was gassy. Then, at a theatre club, I was bought a pint of Theakston's XB. By a cop. I was seventeen. It would have been rude to refuse. It was awkward to point out he'd broken the law. I stayed with beer.
But I never really thought about what I was drinking.
This is a place to think about it. Because, after all, I think about films and books and photographs and art and god forbid I live an unconsidered life.
This is my space to find out about beer - and teach myself, and no doubt state the bleeding obvious. And to find out how to write about beer. And work out precisely what I want to research about beer. I note that I am supervising a PhD student, who is researching binge drinking, so the sociology of drink may come to the fore at some point.
I don't know where it is going.
I've had two bottles today - an Old Dairy Snow Top and a Wantsum Figgy Pudding, both from Kent Breweries, bought from Wild Ferment. Now I'm on a beer from further afield, an Anarchy Brew Company Sublime Chaos, a startling 7% and described as a breakfast stout. It's thick black, or very dark brown, with no head to speak of, very burnt bitter flavour, with a touch of espresso coffee on a rich roast - Ethiopian coffee beans apparently, Guji - and New Zealand hops. I'd expect it to be much sweeter, given the percentage, but the beans hold it down. There's a back of the throat, warm oaty taste, which is pleasant, but you wouldn't want a third bottle.
Time to investigate breakfast stout...