In celebration of National Ale Week, Ringwood Brewery invited Mr East Dorset Foodie and three drinking companions to their factory tour and to sample some of their delicious pale ales.
On arrival to the brilliant Ringwood Brewery, we were very warmly greeted by Steve, who sat us down at the bar, poured us a ½ pint of ‘best’ (aka Razorback), and proceeded to give a 20 minute whistle stop tour of the history of beer (from thousands of years ago in Mesopotamia through to the role beer played in the industrial revolution and WW2).
We toasted and drank to the fact that in times gone by, beer was safer to drink than water.
We were then introduced to the origins of Ringwood Brewery, from the highly influential founder, Peter Austin and his story. The knowledge Steve had and the level of detail he consistently went into throughout the tour made for a fascinating experience, and I am confident that when I next have a Ringwood Brewery beer, I’ll be remembering the history of the brewery and the ingredients and notes in the different ales. Peter Austin’s story is indeed fascinating, and it may not be entirely unreasonable to say that were it not for Monty Python’s Holy Grail, Ringwood Brewery may never have been formed, and maybe, the thriving small brewery and micro-brewery industry that we have today may well not be what it is. You’ll have to do the tour yourself to find out how the actor Terry Jones of Monty Python’s Holy Grail fame played a part in the establishment of Ringwood Brewery!
Ringwood Brewery was sold to Marstons about a decade ago; with the owners appreciating Marstons ability to scale, invest in the Ringwood Brewery brand, whilst not asset stripping, or taking local jobs and the core identity from its lifelong home in Ringwood. We were told that the brewery was sold for a cool £19.2m!
After our history and business lessons, our tour of the brewery became a science lesson; understanding more of the chemical reactions and processes with the relationship between the malts (which we had a taste of) and hops. All Ringwood brewery’s ales are pale ales; named such because they have more than 50% pale malt.
We returned to the bar, and rewarded for our good behaviour, we were kindly able to pour ourselves and each other more beer from behind the pumps, with Forty Niner coming out as the favourite within our party. Forty Niner is a Premium pale ale, golden brown in colour and full bodied. The Forty Niner was originally named such not because it is 4.9% alcohol, but because its original gravity is 1049. When the beer was first brewed, its alcohol content was 4.8%, but it was increased to fit with the name; so it gets it’s strength from its name, not its name from the strength.
As our evening was drawing to a close, I asked my friends what their highlights of the tour were and we agreed that we had learned a lot, but what will last longer in the memory than the facts, will be the amazing aroma’s we smelled when we filled our lungs with a batch of Razorback at the very final stages of brewing; the sweet apple and banana aromas were amazing on the nostrils, and unlike anything we’d ever smelled before. We were impressed that the Ringwood site produced 40,000 barrels, or 11 million pints, a year. Peter Austin was a bold, entrepreneurial, engineer who was a game changer in 20th century beer, and finally, Steve was such a lovely bloke, giving his time to share his passion, knowledge and cheerful manner with us.
Thanks for the tour Ringwood Brewery. We’ll toast to your continued success!
|Invited by PR company?||Yes|
|Guest of chef/restaurant/owner?||Yes|
|Restaurant/outlet knew ahead we were bloggers?||Yes|
|Was the meal complimentary from the restaurant?||Yes|
|Any complimentary items provided by restaurant/outlet?||Yes – Taxi|