Who’s keeping Britain’s oldest brewery alive? – John Hatch, Londoner #62

Who’s keeping Britain’s oldest brewery alive? – John Hatch, Londoner #62


Well this was Britain’s oldest brewery.
Brewing continuously, we know, sine at least 1533 and I thought that was heritage well
worth maintaining. But I don’t expect everyone else to agree with me. But it’s nice when
they do, it’s lovely. 2006, Youngs chose the day of my birthday to announce they were
going to shut later that year. So it wasn’t a great birthday to be perfectly honest. Now
it’s just a case of stirring it in. Most breweries have got a very technical mechanical
way of doing it. I’ve just got a big stick. Youngs sold the brewery to Minerva and I spoke
to Minerva pretty early on actually because I wanted to try and save the brewery. And
I said, well, we can brew once a week as token gesture, maintain the records and that way
you still have Britain’s oldest brewery. So these are details of all the materials I’ve
used so far, I think Youngs have got the same format going back until at least I think 1910
or something. I then transfer all this information into an old leather- bound ledger with details
of all the brews we’ve ever done here really – it just helps with tradition, and it’s just,
it’s got a nice feel to it – I don’t know why I like it so much. To be perfectly honest
you would never design a brewery like this, I mean it works, it makes beer but it is pretty
haphazard, but it was just thrown together. This was part of the old tea urn from the
canteen with a bit of welding and few things added on to it, lots of insulation. I am actually
quite proud of this, I really am, it’s got a part of me in it. Right, ok. Almost every
week I face a new challenge I’m always dreaming of the day I can have a nice easy brewery
which doesn’t need me running about with a spanner every 5 minutes. Unfortunately we’ve
got a bit of a veto situation on commercial brewing at the moment so we can’t sell any
beer. First couple of months there were a few of us basically putting hands into our
own pockets and buying the molten hops and after a while of course that became jolly
expensive. One of the guys had this brilliant idea of putting an honesty box in the sample
room- and he said people could put money into it, and he said we’re not forcing them to
– we’re not selling the beer as such. But we are lucky with the comedy nights so I owe
a great deal to the comedians just to fund me. The Ram brewery is being really developed
into a nice town centre and the micro brewery itself will move into what I call the porter
tun room – porter being an old style London beer so it’s rather a good place for it to
be really. So I’ve gone from 5000 barrels a week maximum to a half barrel a week maximum,
but it’s still brewing which I’m delighted by. Click the videos to watch more Londoners
and don’t forget to subscribe.

5 thoughts on “Who’s keeping Britain’s oldest brewery alive? – John Hatch, Londoner #62”

  1. Great stuff John, can I ask what the ban on selling beer is about? I found this video very interesting as I enjoy brewing beer from the grain. Owning a small brewery and making a living from brewing is my dream.

  2. Hi John, Food inspectors here, we both remember the day at the Brewery, sometime ago now, wonderful time exploring an amazing building…….best wishes with the brewing Keith and Tony

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