A case of all for one, and one for all !

As the continually expanding micro brewery scene gathers apace in London and the South East  its image is one of young blood trying to redress the balance and domination of the global brewing companies,  and bring quality beer back to the capital and its environs.

And whilst this may be true in many cases, a recent invitation by Paddy Johnson of the Windsor & Eton Brewery showed that there was another generation who are equally determined to take up the gauntlet !

The brewery  has only been brewing since April this year and is run by four partners, Paddy himself,  along with Willie Calvert, Bob Morrison and Jim Morrison. All bring their various experience to the business  as Paddy explained.  " Our  backgrounds combined complemented the set up of the brewery,  with myself and Willie involved in Brewing and Bob and Jim in Marketing and Engineering."  By combining  their respective talents they had the basis of a team that could bring their experience to bear for the good of the drinking public.  As Paddy explained further  " Willie and I worked for Courage in the past and Bob and Jim for confectioners Mars " on hearing this I felt a Chocolate Stout must be in the offing sometime in the future - it must be written in the stars !

But, for now, they are taking a more level headed and pragmatic approach, identifying and establishing their market needs with flagship brands such as Guardsman ( their first brew ) at 4.2% alc. and Knight of the Garter, a Golden Ale, at 3.8% alc.

Whilst Paddy showed me around the brewery I was impressed with the level of planning they had put into the layout, both for now - and in the future. The 15 barrel plant is not yet brewing to capacity,  but for  a brewery that has only been operating for seven months this is understandable.

On the Stillage after the  tour  I was able to taste the beers from cask. The Knight of the Garter was an impressive brew with a clean aromatic hop aroma from the use of American Amarillo hops, but with a good depth also given its strength. The Guardsman too,  a firm textured traditional English Bitter was clean and aromatic and an ideal ' session ' beer.  Whilst Paddy felt the beers still needed tweaking  they formed the basis of what they felt the pubs required, although the final brew, Conqueror ,was moving into the realms of something a little different ! 

                                                                 Paddy Johnson


The inspiration behind this particular beer is something fairly unique to the USA  -  Black IPA ,  and  as a highly hopped dark top fermenting brew it has no equivalent as such in UK brewing tradition - so is a bold move by the brewery. It combines  malt accented flavours in the ' Dark Bitter ' style but with a hopping rate normally associated with true IPA's.

On draught the beer had a medium weighted body combined with a subtle roast maltiness that belied its 5.1% alc strength. Both Summit and Cascade hops are used to give it aroma and its distinct bitter edge. 

Clearly they feel this beer also has scope in bottle given its character, and they are weighing up the possibilities of either a filtered or bottle conditioned version being released.

On sampling a trial bottle of the BC version it  it was clear the flavours were more pronounced and defined, bringing a different dimension in comparison to the existing draught beer.

Finally in the sample room we discussed the breweries location in Windsor,  and Paddy's past experience.  By locating the brewery on the outskirts of London has proved a shrewd move  by the team given the higher rental costs within.  Importantly it offers them good access to the Capital  for trade,  whilst establishing themselves as the ' local ' brewer of choice within the affluent commuter belt. 

Paddy then recounted  his past career within the industry, offering  a fascinating insight into the world of the large scale brewer.  Having started with Courage from University in 1979 he has brewed at all the major sites within the former Courage empire. Georges of Bristol, M & B at Cape Hill, Theakston's at Masham amongst many others, and worked as a Technical Consultant for SIBA in more recent times. 

But, of all these locations the one other site that clearly holds the greatest affection for Paddy was the Horsleydown Brewery at Tower Bridge, his first position within the trade as a Brewing Trainee. 

One of his first tasks whilst their was to assist in the brewing of Barclay's famous Imperial Russian Stout , which at that time was then being brewed at Horsleydown and transported down the road to the Barclay Perkins site in Southwark for bottling.  He knew little about the historic status of the beer at that time,  being a raw recruit,  but is naturally proud of playing a small part in the iconic beers history. 

If ever then there was a person qualified to revive the classic beer it must be Paddy, and would be a fitting tribute both to the brand,  and his past endeavours for the group.

With such a rich seam of experience running through  the team as a whole Windsor & Eton Brewery look set for future success - and perhaps we hope some ' Imperial ' intentions.

Now, that would bring a smile to the Empress's face !



To contact the Windsor & Eton Brewery  go to:  www.webrew.co.uk 

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