I dedicate this blog to our friend, Larry Gibbs who is passionate about his beers. He and his wife, Val, have traveled the world and make it a point to visit brew pubs along the way and some out of the way. I think they may be approaching the 5 mark of brew pubs visited. After today, I have a renewed appreciation for beer.
Our tour met in the Mawson Arms, a lovely pub/restaurant that was once the home of Alexander Pope.
|Notice the tall pull on the right- that's my favorite beer: Honey Dew
There were nine people on our tour led by a very knowledgeable guide who had been working for the brewery for over 20 years.
The first thing we did was don some protective jackets to make sure we were visible.
Our guide took us through the entire brewery, going up stairs and down stairs and around vats and into cold cellars where the hops are kept. It was quite interesting and a bit awesome to see what goes in to the process of making a pint of beer!
|Don checking out the Hopes
|Cartons containing the Hops
|Loren checking out the hot tank with hops and hot water
The actually bottling and kegging was fascinating but they asked that we didn't take pictures in this area. There was a huge robotic arm that lifted the metal kegs up and swirled them around.
|These are the major beers from the Fuller Brewing Company
Then we saw them loaded on to the distribution trucks for delivery to the pubs.
The brewery underwent a total update and remodel fairly recently, but there were also remnants from the early brewery days.
This is an old copper oven where they roasted the hops. It was heated originally by coal. After every batch, the inside of the oven had to be washed by hand. Two workers donned special clothing and gloves as it was quite hot. They used lemon juice and vinegar and scrubbed the goo that had oxidized onto the sides. It took two men two hours to clean it. They never assigned this wearisome task; they always asked for volunteers and never had to worry because they offered these workers double rations of beer if they performed this work.
She started us out with a bitter that was 3% alcohol and four beers later we were tasting a beer that was 8.5% alcohol. She called the first beer a "session" beer because it was light and you could sit around for many sessions drinking it without a problem. Later she gave us a taste of a vintage beer that almost tasted a bit like a brandy. She suggested that it would be a lovely "after-dinner beer."
One young couple on the tour was asking some very technical questions, so I asked them how they knew so much about beer making. They were from Austin and were just starting their own brewery.
We all had a fun and interesting time on our tour which ended around 1:00. Feeling a bit peckish, we decided to pop into the Mawson Arms for a bite to eat.
Taking the bus home, we had to pick up a few groceries on the way. We went in to Marks and Spencer and I was so excited to see this sign on their door congratulating Kate and Will on the birth of their baby. I really am so disappointed with the Brits. There was front page news the day George was born, but little afterwards. I thought for sure the stores would be selling all sorts of souvenirs or mementos but I can't find any thing about baby George anywhere! Even this Marks and Spencer sign is quite generic- as though they had it printed up well before George was born. I'm not going to give up... I'll keep looking.
So sorry- I forgot to get a picture of us with our pints - but rest assured that we had our tastings for the day.