CAMRA - Campaign for Real Ale, Berkshire South-East Branch

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Pub of the Year Results
2017 Branch Award Winners Announced

The CAMRA Berkshire South-East branch's Pub, Club and Cider Pub of the Year award winners for 2017 have been announced.

For a third year running, the Queen's Head, Wokingham (below left) has beaten off all-comers to win the branch Pub of the Year award. This Greene King “Local Hero” pub always gives a very warm welcome and offers 6 excellently kept real ales. A presentation to the Queen's Head took place during the beer festival held at the pub, on the afternoon of Saturday 27th May 2017.

For the first time, the branch has also awarded a Club of the Year and this honour goes to the Binfield Club, Binfield, a very friendly club with well kept real ales. Their presentation was held at the club on the evening of July 6th 2017.

Thirdly, the branch Cider Pub of the Year award goes to the Old Manor, Bracknell (below right) for their excellent selection of well kept ciders and perries. Their award was presented on the evening of June 7th 2017. An honourary runner-up award in the Cider Pub competition went to the Wheelwrights Arms, St Nicholas Hurst.

Our congratulations go to all the winners.

Queen's Head Presentation Binfield Club Presentation Old Manor Presentation Wheelwrights Presentation




Branch members making the beer
Branch Members Brew Their Own Beer

Thanks to a generous offer by Andy Parker of Elusive Brewing, branch members have brewed their very own beer.

Nine lucky individuals gathered at the brewery on the morning of 17th June 2017 for a hands-on brewing experience.

The beer was brewed on Elusive's prototyping equipment, rather than the full-size kit, but this still gave an authentic experience of brewing at a brewery.

Members decided to brew a milk stout in acknowledgement of our “Mad Cow” heritage. The recipe followed was one for a coffee and cream stout discovered by Mike Rathge. During a period of waiting on the day, members came up with the name “Moo-cha”, which seems perfect for a Mad Cow coffee beer!

Although Andy was there to supervise throughout, it was branch members ourselves that did the work, whether it be shovelling in the ingredients, stirring, transfering between vessels, or good old fashioned cleaning-up. Special mention should go to Terry Burrows who donned the massive rubber gloves to perform the sparging.

Whilst we were waiting for the mash, it was time for brunch. The kettle went on for teas and coffees, and the frying pan went on for some very tasty bacon baps. This was much to the consternation of members of the next door gym running laps of the car park whilst we munched! Once the sun was past the yard arm, Andy also allowed us to sample his excellent Overdrive Lap 3 from keykeg.

A cask of Moo-cha will be on-sale at the forthcoming branch social at the Crispin in Wokingham on Thursday 2nd November.

Attendees agreed that it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and many thanks are due to Andy Parker.

Members brewing Terry in the rubber gloves The stout being brewed




Dean Bond and Bob Brooks
Local Brewer Takes Over Wokingham Pub Taps

On 15th February 2017 Bond Brews of Wokingham took over all the hand-pulls at the Crispin in a “Tap Take-over”.

The five hand-pulls at the Crispin in Wokingham were all dedicated to Bond Brews beers for the night - namely their 3 regulars (Goldi-Hops, Best of British and Railway Porter) plus seasonals Night Screamer and Scrum Five.

Brewer Dean Bond gave an entertaining and informative presentation to a healthy crowd of interested drinkers .

Dressed in a T-shirt designed to look like a tuxedo, he kicked off giving background on his brewing experience. He also covered setting up the company and day-to-day life in the brewery, thanking CAMRA branch member Raymond Whitehead for his invaluable help and Bob Brooks as CAMRA Brewery Liaison Officer.

This was followed by a short quiz to win bottles of Bond Brews beer before Dean mingled with the customers to explain more about the beers on offer.

Speaking afterwards Dean said “Many thanks to Mick, the Landlord at The Crispin, Wokingham for hosting the recent Bond Brews Tap Takeover. I felt is was a great evening supported by the BSE branch of CAMRA and friends. It provided a great opportunity to meet local customers and spread the word about the local brews.

Dean is pictured left with CAMRA Brewery Liason Officer for Bond Brews, Bob Brooks.

Taps Taken Over






Older News Articles

Autumn 2016

Mick Musson Behind the Bar of the Crispin
Mick Musson Returns to Crispin, Wokingham

After an absence of just over 2 years, landlord Mick Musson has returned to his spiritual home behind the bar of the Crispin in Wokingham.

Back in 2014, Mick was “promoted” away from Wokingham to manage the Alehouse in Reading. He got the pub running so smoothly that he was able to handover to his deputy Carl, and has recently been back in his hometown of Coventry.

Becky Townsend has done a fine job of keeping the Crispin running over the last couple of years, but she is now moving on to new challenges creating the opportunity for Mick's return.

The locals can once again look forward to drinking Mick's carefully selected choice of tasty real ales, beautifully served.

Mick and the pub's owners recognise that the Cripin building (especially the Gents toilet) is in need of some t.l.c, and he seems confident that this will happen sooner rather than later.

Welcome back Mick!





Summer 2016

Queen's Head
Queen's Head Retain Branch & County Pub of the Year Titles

The Queen's Head (23 The Terrace, Wokingham, RG40 1BP) have retained their titles by being awarded both CAMRA Berkshire South-East's Branch Pub of the Year and Berkshire's County Pub of the Year for 2016. Our congratulations go to Carol Williams and her team.

The Greene King “Local Hero” pub offers 6 excellently kept real ales, 3 from local microbreweries and 3 from the Greene King range.

The Branch Pub of the Year presentation to the Queen's Head took place during the beer festival held at the pub, on Saturday 4th June 2016.

On hearing the news, landlady Carol declared herself to be “One happy woman”!

The Queen's Head then went forward to the County round of judging for Berkshire - which, like in 2015, they won! They now go forward to the regional round against the County winners from Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.





Old Manor Wins Branch Cider Pub of the Year 2016

Congratulations to all at the Old Manor (Grenville Place, Bracknell, RG12 1BP) whom have been voted as our Branch's Cider Pub of the Year for 2016.

This is the first time that Berkshire South-East branch has made a Cider Pub of the Year award, and was made possible by an increase in the number of pubs in the branch area offering real cider.

Branch Cider Representative, Mike Lee, made the presentation to the Old Manor during our branch AGM on Wednesday 15th June.

Congratulations also to the Wheelwright's Arms (Davis Way, St Nicholas Hurst, RG10 0TR) who commendably finished as Runners-Up.

Old Manor Wheelwright's Arms




Spring 2016

Elusive Brewing Logo
Elusive Brewing To Open In Finchampstead

A second new brewery in a matter of weeks is due to open in the Berkshire South-East area. Elusive Brewing is run by Andy Parker who is a familiar face on the local brewing scene having been involved in a number of collaboration beers with other breweries.

Elusive will be based on the Hogwood Park Industrial Estate in Finchampstead where they have a 5 barrel plant waiting to go as soon as they receive approval to brew.

A preview event was held at the Prince Arthur in Fleet on Monday 15th February, attended by around 60 people including branch members and members of the hosting Surrey Hants Borders CAMRA branch.

The following three prototype beers were available at the event:

Cherrywood Road (Smoked Mild)
- A ruby mild with a subtle fruity smokiness provided by malts that have been smoked over cherrywood. 3.8% ABV.

D&V (English Pale Ale)
- A golden ale with a hint of apricot in the finish. 5% ABV.

Level Up (American Red Ale)
- A hop forward red ale using six different malts and a combination of Mosaic and Equinox hops. 5.8% ABV.

As a bonus, an additional beer was added at the last minute - a Scotish Wee Heavy style beer.

At the event, Andy delivered a talk about the trials and tribulations of setting up a micro brewery in 2016 and his plans and schedule for 2016.

For further information on the brewery please see the Elusive Brewing website, Twitter or Facebook.

Attendees The Beers





Winter 2015/16

Bond Brews Logo
Bond Brews of Wokingham Launches

Dean Bond, a branch member, has set up a new brewery on Heathlands Road, Wokingham, (RG40 3AS). Trading as Bond Brews Ltd, the brewery was granted its licence in December 2015.

It is a six barrel plant initially brewing three core ales:

Best of British
A 4% best bitter.

Goldi-Hops
A 3.9% pale ale.

Railway Porter
A 4.5% old English Porter.

Initially, beers have been delivered to the following outlets: The Ale House Reading, The Bell at Waltham St Lawrence, The Royal Oak at Knowl Hill, The Tally Ho at Eversley and the New Leathern Bottle at Jealott's Hill. Further outlets will soon come on stream.

Bottle conditioned versions will soon be available directly from the Brewery.

For further information and for updates of outlets please see the Bond Brews website, Twitter or Facebook.

Brewery Brewing Kit





Summer 2015

Queen's Head landlady Carol in shock at the news
Wokingham Queen's Head Named Best Pub in Berkshire

For the first time since our formation, a Berkshire South-East branch pub has been voted the best in the whole of Berkshire. The Queen's Head in Wokingham followed-up their branch Pub of the Year win to take the county-wide award.

They beat their counterparts in the other Berkshire CAMRA branches - The Fox & Hounds, Caversham (Reading & Mid Berks branch), the White Horse, Hedgerley (Slough, Windsor & Maidenhead branch), and the Six Bells, Beenham (West Berks branch).

The news broke, appropriately enough, on the eve of the first Queen's Head beer festival. When landlady Carol Williams was informed, she was visibly in delighted shock.

The beer festival featured 12 ales on stillage in the rear garden, alongside the usual 6 on handpulls in the bar. It was a great success, with the stillaged ales all but selling out over the weekend.

A presentation was made to Carol at the Queen's Head on October 14th by CAMRA Berkshire Area Organiser Darren Stock.

CAMRA Berkshire South-East Branch Chairman David Richards said "This is the first time in the history of our branch that one of our pubs has won the County round of the Pub of the Year competition. To get this far, a pub has to have won the local branch award and been judged against all the other CAMRA branch POTYs in the County round. We are all extremely pleased that the Queen’s Head came out top and are immensely proud of licensee Carol Williams, who took the pub over in 2013."




Spring 2015

Branch Pub of the Year 2015 is Queen's Head, Wokingham

Congratulations to Carol Williams and her team at the Queen's Head (23 The Terrace, Wokingham, RG40 1BP). They have been voted as CAMRA Berkshire South-East's Branch Pub of the Year for 2015.

The Greene King “Local Hero” pub has made huge strides since Carol took over as landlady two years ago, and deservedly steps up after finishing as runner-up in 2014. The friendly community pub offers 6 excellently kept real ales, 3 from local microbreweries and 3 from the Greene King range.

The Branch Pub of the Year presentation to the Queen's Head took place during our “Mild in May” social at the pub on Thursday 14th May 2015.

Branch Chairman David Richards said “It was a really strong field again this year and it was a very close call, but the work the landlady of the Queen's Head does for the community really impressed us. These awards are becoming more and more important every year as we see real ale pubs under threat and closing down.”

Landlady Carol Williams said “I am absolutely thrilled that we have won this award. We were runners-up last year so this makes it sweeter and I am glad we have managed to crack it this time. We have really worked to ensure our ales have been of a consistently high quality because that is the key really.”

Congratulations also to Peter & Michelle at the Rose & Crown (108 High Street, Sandhurst, GU47 8HA) who commendably finished as Runners-Up in our Branch Pub of the Year Competition.

The presentation to the Rose & Crown took place a week later on Thursday 21st May 2015.

Rose & Crown Queen's Head




Winter 2014/15

40 Years of Local Branch Campaigning Celebrated

The Reading and Mid Berkshire Branch of CAMRA has been celebrating its 40th Birthday. Way back in December 1974 the very first meeting of “The Reading and East Berkshire Branch of CAMRA” was held in the Hope and Anchor in Wokingham. While West Berkshire Branch had come into being earlier in 1974, this was the first test meeting for CAMRA in central and eastern Berkshire. Another followed it in January 1975 at the Queen of England in Slough, to test support for a Slough Branch. Two branches evolved out of these initial meetings and shortly afterwards representatives from both got together and decided that Maidenhead should go with Slough and Windsor and the rest of Mid and East Berkshire should stay with Reading.

Much later, around the turn of the century, members in the South East of Berkshire set up a sub branch to better look after their interests, and our very own branch, Berkshire South East, achieved full branch status in 2003. That set up the current pattern of branches in the county. CAMRA activity in this area can thus be traced back to that first meeting in Wokingham in 1974.

Members of both Reading and Mid Berkshire, and Berkshire South East Branches joined forces to celebrate the anniversary on 13th December 2014 at the Hope and Anchor and presented the Landlady Hattie Gutzman with a certificate to commemorate the occasion.

CAMRA members celbrate the 40th Anniversary at the Hope & Anchor Nick Boley makes Commemorative Presentation to Hope & Anchor Landlady Hattie Gutzman



Autumn 2014

25 Year Award for Mo & Alan at the Green Man

The Berkshire South East branch of CAMRA has recently awarded Mo and Alan Cannon a special award for twenty five years of dedicated service running the Green Man in Bracknell.

The presentation was made at the pub on the evening of September 18th 2014 by branch Membership Secretary Barry Fenton. By coincidence, Barry remembers Mo and Alan first arriving at the Green Man because he was working with the brewery that owned the pub at the time!

An enjoyable evening was had by all with locAle beers from Andwells and Loddon proving popular.

Alan and Mo beings presented the Award



Summer 2014

Rose & Crown At Woodside is Saved By Community

The Rose & Crown at Woodside near Ascot has been saved by the local community with the help of Berkshire SouthEast CAMRA.

Owners Greene King had decided not to renew the lease for the Fielder family to continue running the pub. Instead they put the property up for sale, leaving it at risk of being redeveloped into residential property or shops. But the licensees felt the pub could still be a going concern and the locals wanted to keep it, so they contacted CAMRA for help.

Recent legislation allows a pub to be declared an Asset of Community Value (ACV), to make it more difficult for its use to be changed against the will of the local community.

Berkshire SE CAMRA had never before attempted to obtain an ACV, and to make matters worse we had no Pubs Preservation Officer at the time. Jeremy Barber bravely stepped-in to help the locals, led by a lady called Carole, in their attempts to do this.

21 locals were persuaded to sign-up their support. A case for the pub being important to the local community was made based upon the it employing 15 people and being committed to sourcing food and drink from local suppliers.

Although this may have been enough to gain an ACV, it was decided to also try and convince the local Parish Council to support the cause. Carole went along with newly appointed Berks SE CAMRA Pubs Preservation Officer Gareth Forster (thrown in at the deep end!)

They successfully managed to win over the Parish Council's support, and there was now sufficient momentum that Bracknell Forest Borough Council could not turn-down the ACV application.

As a result, Greene King have removed the property from the market and renewed the tennacy agreement for the Fielder family to stay running the Rose and Crown. Well done to all involved in securing this successful outcome.

Rose & Crown, Woodside



Spring 2014

Branch Pub of the Year 2014 is Rose & Crown, Sandhurst

Congratulations to Peter, Michelle and the entire team at the Rose & Crown (108 High Street, Sandhurst, GU47 8HA) whom have been voted as CAMRA Berkshire South-East's Branch Pub of the Year for 2014.

This is a very well deserved award for a friendly local pub which offers so much to its community, but always with the promotion of excellently kept real ale at the heart of things.

The presentation to the Rose & Crown took place at the pub on Thursday 20th March 2014, happily coinciding with the first day of their spring beer festival.

CAMRA Branch Chairman, David Richards, presenting the award, said: “In January this year, we shortlisted just five of our Good Beer Guide pubs to be judged for our Pub of the Year award. We were not only looking for high beer quality, that goes without saying, but we were also looking at such factors as: the service and welcome that customers receive; the general atmosphere in the pub; and how well it reflects the aims of CAMRA, giving Real Ale a positive push. Needless to say, the Rose & Crown scored highly in all these categories and is now officially the best pub out of a total of 95 in our branch area. In only 16 months, Michelle and Peter, aided in no small part by their dedicated staff; Martyn, Martin, Jordan, Vickie, Josée, Alison and Beth, have made the Rose & Crown a haven for Real Ale lovers and overall, a thoroughly nice pub to come to. The Rose & Crown will now go forward to the county round of judging and we wish them every success.

Congratulations also to Carol & her team at the Queen's Head (23 The Terrace, Wokingham, RG40 1BP) who commendably finished as Runners-Up.

The presentation to the Queen's Head took place on Thursday 8th May 2014, with a local Mild for May available on the night.

Queen's Head Rose & Crown




We're 10!
Berks South-East CAMRA 10th Anniversary Event

The Berkshire South-East branch of the Campaign for Real Ale celebrated its ten year anniversary with a beer and skittles evening at the 2013 Pub of the Year, the Jack O’Newbury at Binfield on the evening of Saturday, 8th March 2014. Branch members past and present joined us for this occasion.

CAMRA BSE originally formed as a sub-branch of the Reading and mid-Berkshire branch thanks to the efforts of the late Colin Lanham who felt that a huge part of Berkshire in which he lived was not receiving the attention from CAMRA that it deserved and was determined to capture the enthusiasm of like minded beer lovers from the outlying boroughs of Wokingham, Bracknell, Ascot, Sandhurst and Sunningdale. The inaugural meeting of the sub-branch was held at the Old Manor in Bracknell during late spring of 2001 when over thirty members packed into the monks dining room to offer their support. At that meeting a committee was formed including Mike Smith as Chairman, Sandie Gill (Brown) as Secretary and Adrian Kirk as Membership Secretary. Following two successful years the sub-branch decided to apply for full branch status which was duly granted on 28th June 2003.

During the last ten years we have seen a huge improvement in real ale choice and quality around our local pubs epitomised by the Jack O’Newbury under the guidance of serial award winning landlord Dave Pepper and his team. A surge in demand for quality locally produced real ale alongside tax concessions has signalled the birth of several small breweries that continue to flourish – Loddon (2003); Ascot (2007); Andwell (2008); Binghams (2010); Windsor & Eton (2010); Sherfield (2011); Siren (2012); Wild Weather (2013) are all examples of local brewers that have established a reputation for producing fantastic beer, reviving forgotten styles and innovating to suit current trends and interest in our national beverage. Who would have thought ten years ago that today we would be drinking a “multi-grain red beer brewed with barley, wheat, oats and crystal rye and hopped with Fuggles and Styrian Goldings from Slovenia to produce a beer packed with flavour and aroma” when all that was readily available then at the majority of pubs was a plain best bitter produced by a large national brewer.

I would like to think that we can take some credit for fuelling these changes by raising awareness and supporting our pubs through our quarterly magazine, Mad Cow; the massively successful annual beer festival held at Ascot Racecourse; creation of our web-site and social media activity; our pub award presentation evenings and not forgetting the tireless effort put in by many branch members updating whatpub, our national pub database; surveying for the annual Good Beer Guide published nationally and simple going out to the pub and drinking real ale.

Here’s to the next ten years.

Cheers!

Mike Smith

Founding Branch Member

Branch Visit to Gales Brewery in 2004 Branch Beer Festival at South Hill Park in 2004
Branch visit to Gales brewery in 2004. Left to right: Louise Beardmore, John Thirlaway, Sue Thirlaway, Colin Lanham, John Wood, Dave Watts.
Branch beer festival at South Hill Park in 2004. Left to right: Mike Beardmore, Bill Lynch, John Thirlaway, Sue Thirlaway, David Richards.



Winter 2013/14

Cannie Man Wins Branch Most Improved Pub Award

The Cannie Man (Bywood, Hanworth, RG12 7RF) has been voted as CAMRA Berkshire South-East's Most Improved Pub of the Year 2013.

Local CAMRA Representative, Jeremy Barber presenting the award, said: “The Cannie Man has not only improved over the last twelve months, but has been consistently improving for the last three years. At a time when pubs are struggling and unable to manage on wet sales alone, this is a testament to the dedication of Amanda, Neil and their extended family for running such a successful and continually improving venue.

Built in the early seventies, the Cannie Man was at its lowest ebb until Neil and Amanda Maxwell took over the tenancy in February 2010. The highly prized Cask Marque was attained almost straight away with full marks in July 2010. Neil and Amanda commenced their Real Ale sales with the introduction of London Pride and a second rotating guest beer. In the past twelve months the number of hand pumps has increased to four, to allow two local Ales to be added to the selection. This subsequently lead to CAMRA accrediting the pub with ‘LocAle’ status.

The presentation was made at the pub on the evening of November 28th 2013.

Presentation to the Cannie Man




Autumn 2013

15 Year Award for Kevin & Helen at the Wheelwright's Arms

The Berkshire South East branch of CAMRA has recently awarded Kevin Morley and Helen Beighton of the Wheelwright’s Arms a special award for fifteen years of dedicated service to the pub industry.

CAMRA Pubs Officer, Graham Holt presenting the award, said: “In the years before Kevin and Helen took on the Wheelwrights Arm's in 1998, it had for been closed more often than open and looked to be a lost cause. However, by virtue of their hard work and dedication the Wheelwright’s Arms has been transformed into the vibrant pub we know today. It gives us great pleasure to be able to celebrate their time at the pub, their dedication to real ales and their support of the local community.

The 19th century Wheelwright’s Arms in Davis Way, St Nicholas Hurst, started selling beer when the railways arrived in the early 1850's. A friendly local close to Dinton Pastures, it retains many traditional features making it a very pleasurable place to sit with family and friends enjoying the home cooked food and fine selection of Real Ales.

The presentation was made at the pub on the evening of November 21st 2013.

Kevin beings presented the Award




Summer 2013

Good Beer Guide 2014 cover
Launch Evening Event for Good Beer Guide 2014

Berkshire South-East CAMRA held a launch evening event for the 2014 edition of the Good Beer Guide at the Rose and Crown, Sandhurst on Monday 23rd September 2013.

The Rose and Crown appears in the 2014 Good Beer Guide for the first time under the Management of Peter and Michelle Cozens, and they were presented with their GBG pack and a copy of the 2014 Good Beer Guide by Branch Chairman David Richards on the evening.

All of the licensees of the successful pub entrants in the branch area were invited to attend, along with a number of the local brewers in the region. The Sandhurst Town Council Mayor, Cllr Michael Brossard and his deputy Cllr Pauline McKenzie, were also in attendance.

There are a total of 95 pubs in CAMRA’s Berkshire South East branch area, 80 of which serve Real Ale, but only 11 can be selected for entry into the GBG, so they must be of the highest standard. All entries in the guide are chosen and compiled by CAMRA members on a fully independent basis.

CAMRA Branch Chairman David Richards said “CAMRA volunteers survey all the pubs constantly throughout the year and only the very best are chosen to go into the Guide. That’s why I am particularly pleased to say that this year, out of our allocation of 11 pubs, 5 of them are new entrants. All 11 of these pubs are different. Some are in the countryside, some in suburban areas and some in town centres. Some lead with a food offering but also sell real ale, some sell food and drink in equal measure and some just sell drinks. However, they all have one thing in common – they all sell excellently kept and served real ale. And so I say to you, go and visit them all, you may be surprised what you find.

Launch Night Crowd David Richards presents GBG 2013 to Peter Cozens



Spring 2013

Jack o'Newbury Wins Branch Pub of the Year 2013

Congratulations to all at the Jack o'Newbury (Terrace Road North, Binfield, RG42 5PH) whom have been voted as CAMRA Berkshire South-East's Branch Pub of the Year for 2013. This is the fifth time in seven years that the Jack have won this much-coveted award, having previously won it in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011.

Branch Chair, Nick Boley, said “The competition to find our Pub of the Year this year was very close, which is a credit to all the pubs which were nominated. The Jack o’Newbury is an excellent free house which caters for locals and visitors alike. A friendly welcome and atmosphere are complemented by a range of well-kept beers including, importantly, a couple from local breweries. The Jack has now won this prestigious award for 5 of the last 7 years, which is testament to the hard work by Dave and his staff in maintaining the high standards they have set.

Congratulations also to the Old Manor (Grenville Place, Bracknell, RG12 1BP) who commendably finished as Runners-Up, a year after winning the award.

The presentation to the Jack o'Newbury took place at the pub on the evening of Thursday 25th April 2013. The presentation to the Old Manor took place on the evening of Wednesday 5th June 2013.

Old Manor Jack o'Newbury




Victoria, Binfield Wins Branch Community Pub Award

The Victoria Arms (Terrace Road North, Binfield, RG42 5JA) has been voted as CAMRA Berkshire South-East's Community Pub of the Year 2013. This award is given in recognition of the part our pubs plays within their local community. The many benefits of community pubs include local societies, clubs, sporting teams and charitable works, and CAMRA believe that these need to be recognised, supported and encouraged.

Branch Chair Nick Boley said: “Many people today are beginning to realise the importance of community pubs, something which some of us have known for many years. They are an important part of our heritage and culture, and provide facilities and a welcome for all sections of the communities they serve. This was not an easy choice for branch members to make, as there were many strong contenders. The Victoria Arms, under the management of Jim Teasdale and his team, is a great example, serving the local community and supporting numerous charities and good causes. All are welcome in the 'Vic' which provides an excellent environment for conversation over an excellent pint of Fuller’s fine ales.

The presentation was made at the pub on the evening of April 18th 2013.

Victoria Arms




Siren Logo
Berkshire SE's New Brewery Siren Craft Brew Launches

The Berkshire South-East area finally has a brewery within our borders, following the formation of Siren Craft Brew at Hogwood Industrial Park in Finchampstead.

The brewery is owned and run by Darron Anley, ably assisted by Head Brewer Ryan Witter-Merithew.

The launch of our new local brewery, Siren Craft, took place on the 9th March 2013 at the Craft Beer Company in London. The launch took place at the Clerkenwell pub, but the beers were also available in Islington, Brixton and, later in the day, Brighton. A number of hardy drinkers were there at noon to try out the beers, and they were not disappointed. Berkshire SE branch were represented by Chair Nick Boley, Webmaster Simon Grist and Siren Craft Brewery Liaison Officer (BLO) Mike Rathge. Brewery owner Darron Anley and head brewer Ryan Witter-Merithew were also there to meet drinkers and discuss details of the beers as well as listen to the punters feedback.

All four of their core beers were available in both keg and cask. The cask versions were enthusiastically sampled and were certainly not found wanting. If you like big, bold flavours these are the beers for you! Starting with Under Current, a 4.5% pale ale, with plenty of Cascade hops, we progressed through Sound Wave, a 5.6% American-style IPA well-hopped with several US hop varieties, to Liquid Mistress, a 5.8% West Coast style Red IPA, again well-hopped with a lovely malty, biscuity base finishing with Broken Dream, their 6.5% Breakfast Stout, with just a hint of smokiness and coffee. You could have drunk this all day long. Well, perhaps not, give that 6.5% abv!. It was delicious and dangerously drinkable. In addition, the Manager of each branch of the Craft Beer Company was allowed to put one of the beers on with an additional ingredient of their own. For Clerkenwell this was the addition of Tequila soaked oak chips to Sound Wave IPA. Islington made the addition of vanilla & smoked chilli to The Breakfast Stout, and Brighton selected Rum soaked Oak Chips to the same.

The verdict: excellent beers, well-balanced but with big flavours. Liquid Mistress was the favourite in a tight contest. We are looking forward to seeing these in our branch area soon.

Photos show the four pumps proudly on the bar at the Craft Beer Co, Clerkenwell, and owner Darron, brewer Ryan and BLO Mike enjoying the beers.

Siren Pump Clips Darron, Ryan and Mike

The following are some initial (non professional) tasting notes for each beer.

Undercurrent
A 4.5% (OG 1042) Oatmeal Pale Ale made with Cascade and Palisade hops. Nice creamy 'session-style' American Pale Ale (apparently you can call a 4.5% ABV beer a 'session ale' in the US!). Straw yellow, with aromas of grain, fresh hay and lovely floral hops. Dry with mild bitterness and distinctive grapefruit and apricot flavours. A soft silky texture with moderate carbonation and medium body. Some biscuit and light caramel notes.

Sound Wave
A 5.6% (OG 1056) West Coast Golden IPA: Light and clear (note: the Tequila oak chipped version was a little hazy), copper orange with a white bubbled head. Fresh citrus hops with overtones of peach and mango and hints of orange peel and vanilla. Dry with lots of aroma hops and a subtle bitterness, then more hops! The Tequila version provided the addition of a smooth boozy alcohol burn (not unpleasant provided you like the taste of Tequila!).

Liquid Mistress
A 5.8% (OG 1061) West Coast Red IPA: Poured a clear beautiful deep red, with a light bubbly head. Plenty of grapefruit citrus aromas. Mild dark fruit flavor, like raisins or dates, biscuity and bitter complex hop finish. Mildly carbonated and smooth. Medium to full-bodied with a heavy dose of hops to finish with peachy flavours.

Broken Dream
A 6.5% (OG 1072) Breakfast Stout: Pours a very nice deep black velvet with a thick creamy off white head. The head had great retention which faded slowly to give way to some nice lacing. A good dose of hoppy aromas are mixed in with a pleasant bready malt smell. Roasty malt and dark chocolate are prominent with the subtle coffee tones following (thanks to those nice guys at Origin!). A nice creamy body with a not too high carbonation level really allows for the hop tastes to penetrate the tongue. All in all a great stout!



Winter 2012/13

Wokingham Home Brewers Association Logo
Wokingham Home Brewers Association Launched

CAMRA member and brewer Jon Hosking, who has recently moved into our area, is launching Wokingham Home Brewers Association. The group's first meeting was held in the Dukes Head, Wokingham on Tuesday 12th February.

Jon brings excellent credentials, having not only home-brewed for several decades, but also having brewed for the Town Mill Brewery.

The aim of the WHBA is to bring together people who enjoy home brewing to share ideas, knowledge and recipes. They welcome complete novices and experienced old hands to help one another create, appreciate and become educated in all things beery!

Adrian and Julie Taylor of the Dukes Head welcome the new group in their pub. So why not join the Wokingham area’s first home brewing association?

Contact Jon on 07833 204543, by email to jonhosking@btinternet.com or via the group's Facebook page.




Gold Cup in Ascot Under Threat

The Gold Cup (Fernbank Road, North Ascot, SL5 8JN) has come under threat of demolition. The branch's Barry Garber has learnt that a Planning Application has been submitted to Bracknell Forest Borough Council proposing to demolish the pub and re-develop the site into residential properties.

The Gold Cup was closed in 2012 having previously been a well-used community local, and the only pub in the area following the closure of the nearby Cranbourne Tower some years ago.

Barry has registered an objection to the Planning Application on behalf of CAMRA, the wording of which can be seen below:

Gold Cup, Ascot

“I am Pubs Preservation Officer for the local branch (Berkshire South East) of CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale). CAMRA is an independant voluntary organisation and has over 140,000 members countrywide.

“CAMRA supports pubs as the centre of community life and believes their continual existence plays a critical social role in UK culture. CAMRA is alarmed at the number of public houses closing down and the associated loss of local amenity.

“The Berkshire South East Branch of CAMRA wishes to raise an objection to the demolition of The Gold Cup Public House and erection of the dwellings proposed in this planning application. The Gold Cup Public House is the only pub in the close locality, and its permanent loss will be to the detriment of local residents as a place to meet and socialise in a pleasant environment. A local public house is a great asset to the community and should be retained as such. CAMRA believes that the Gold Cup Public House could be run as a viable pub business.

“ CAMRA believes that the planning authority should apply the Public House Viabilty Test before coming to its final decision on this planning application. This is available at www.camra.org.uk/viabilitytest.”

It is hoped that the pub can be restored to its rightful place as a thriving business at the heart of the local community. The branch will keep abreast of the situation as it develops.





CAMRA Mass Lobby Logo
Branch Members Join Beer Duty Escalator Lobby

On Wednesday 12 December, CAMRA organised a mass lobby of Parliament to gain support from MPs for the removal of the Beer Duty Escalator, which automatically increases the duty on beer by inflation plus 2% each year. This is a major factor in the decline of the great British pub, resulting in so many closures.

Representatives of the branch attended the lobby and spoke to MPs regadring the Beer Duty Escalator. Branch chair Nick Boley, together with Branch Contact David Richards and Raymond Whitehead saw Bracknell MP Dr Phillip Lee. Other branch members, including Branch Secretary Graham Holt, spoke to John Redwood, MP for Wokingham.

Our representations to our MPs were well-received. The fact that duty increased by 5% last year but only raised an extra 0.3% of revenue for the Treasury was a particularly telling argument for both MPs. Dr Lee is also a great supporter of pubs, and is keen to help save the pub, realising that pub closures and high pub prices push people towards supermarkets for cheap booze and the subsequent unregulated drinking at home or on the streets, compared with the more controlled environment of the pub. As a GP, Dr Lee is acutely aware of the health effects of this move, and has now pledged his support for our campaign to scrap the escalator.

The photos show Dr Lee with messrs Boley, Richards and Whitehead at the top of a rather chilly Westminster Hall.

Branch Members with Dr Phillip Lee Dr. Phillip Lee talking with Branch Members

The whole day was successful and culminated in a rally where many speakers including 5 MPs of various political shades gave rousing addresses. A memorable moment was Hazel Blears MP calling the escalator “stupid” - a simple word telling a simple truth. We must now watch this space to see whether this groundswell of opinion amongst MPs will translate into the Treasury taking the action we desire.



Autumn 2012

CAMRA Needs YOU
Xmas Beer Scores Draw - Winners Announced

The name of everyone who provided a beer score during the Autumn was entered into a Christmas Score Draw. The draw has been made and the first two names drawn won £20 vouchers towards food and drink at the recently refurbished Red Lion, Bracknell. The lucky winners are David Young and Nicci Evelegh.

This initiative was promoted because a minimum of five scores are needed from different people for a pub to be eligible for local/national recognition but many had fewer than five.

Although the Christmas draw is now over, we still need more beer scores throughout the year. Beer scoring takes little time and ensures pubs selling beer in good condition are identified. The greater the number of members who submit beer scores the greater the confidence that the scores match the quality of beer being served.

Beer scores range from 0 (undrinkable) to 5 (the best beer you’ve ever tasted). Descriptions of these ratings and instructions on how to submit scores are provided in the Beer Quality section of the website.

Any CAMRA member (from within the branch or outside) can submit a beer score when they visit one of our pubs. We accept scores by either or text message to 07963 149380.

Importantly it could be your score that enables a pub to be considered for entry in the Good Beer Guide or for local awards such as CAMRA BSE Pub of the Year (POTY).

Perhaps this could help you: put Beerscores, 07963 149380 in your mobile phone address book. SIMPLE! Each time you drink beer in a local pub think Beerscores! Send a text to Beerscores – Date, Pub Name & Location, Brewer & Beer, Beer Score, Your Name & CAMRA Number.

Alternatively, make a note and send the information in an .

Your CAMRA card is in your wallet, isn't it?



Summer 2012

The Roebuck Returns in Wokingham

The Square Bar in Wokingham has returned to its traditional name - The Roebuck. The Mayor of Wokingham officially renamed the pub on Diamond Jubilee Sunday, at which time new signage was revealed including a delightful lantern emblazened with “Real Ales”.

Landlord Mark Miles said “Bar Square was named in 2004/05 by the previous owner and it never suited the premise - It is a pub.

There is historical significance as it was called The Roebuck back in 1750 and we thought it was appropriate with the Diamond Jubilee to return it to its original name.

Before cutting the ceremonial ribbon, Wokingham Town Mayor Councillor Peter Lucey said “I am so proud we are returning this 200-year-old pub to its original name. I wish Mark and the staff all the best in the future.

Mark is appealing for anybody with old photos of The Roebuck, as he would like to display copies of them in the pub.

The Roebuck Opening of Roebuck




Old Manor Wins Branch Pub of the Year 2012

Congratulations to all at the Old Manor (Grenville Place, Bracknell, RG12 1BP) whom have been voted as CAMRA Berkshire South-East's Branch Pub of the Year for 2012. The pub is a former runner-up of this much-coveted award.

Branch Chair, Nick Boley, said “This is a pub which very much supports the same aims as CAMRA. There is always a good range of real ales available, and always well-kept. The Manor always seems busy, and has a varied clientele, many of whom are clearly there for the beer! JD Wetherspoon, who own the pub, often get a bad press in some quarters, but if all of their pubs were as good as the Old Manor, perhaps this would not be the case.

Congratulations also to the Hope & Anchor (Station Road, Wokingham, RG40 2AD) who commendably finished as Runners-Up.

Branch Webmaster, Simon Grist, said “The Hope & Anchor is a wonderful turn-around story. In less than three years Reid & Hattie Gutzman have built the pub into a thriving community local. Many people visit simply for the well-kept beers and friendly welcome, but there is plenty more besides – from bar billiards to salsa classes, from quiz nights to live bands. It’s good to see the hard work paying off.

The presentation to the Old Manor was made on 13th June 2012, whilst the presentation to the Hope & Anchor was made on 23rd June 2012. Photos from both can be found in the Branch Photo Gallery.

Old Manor Hope & Anchor




Spring 2012

Royal Oak, Bracknell Wins Branch Community Pub Award

Congratulations to the Royal Oak (Bay Road, Bracknell, RG12 2NN) for being voted as CAMRA Berkshire South-East's inaugural Community Pub of the Year.

The presentation to Landlord Gareth Holland was made on April 26th 2012. Local MP Dr Phillip Lee joined members of CAMRA Berkshire South East branch for the presentation.

Branch Chairman, Nick Boley said “The Royal Oak , under licensee Gareth Holland, is a great example of what a community pub should be, supporting many activities and teams for local people, as well as serving a good range of traditional beers.

Presentation to the Royal Oak Presentation to the Royal Oak




Involve Your Local in Community Pubs Month
Community Pubs Month logo

This April is Community Pubs Month, and we want as many local pubs as possible to get involved.

Following the success of Berkshire Pubs Week (held last October) we’re delighted to announce that CAMRA’s Community Pubs Month is being re-launched. The objective of Community Pubs Month is to promote pubs across the country, and it will be held from Monday 2nd to Monday 30th April 2012.

This month is a celebration of the pub as a great social gathering place. Community Pubs Month will highlight events in pubs across the country, and CAMRA will publicise any pub and club events being held during the month.

To find out more, sign-up a pub or add an event, go to the Community Pubs Month website. Your help will really help CAMRA fly the flag for Community pubs!





Winter 2011/12

Ascot logo
Ascot Racecourse Beer Festival - A Glorious Success

Glorious sunshine helped make the 2011 Ascot Racecourse Beer Festival a huge success. After the bitter cold winds of the previous year, the weather was much kinder to us this time around. So much so that all the beer and cider was finished before the final Saturday race.

CAMRA Berkshire South-East organise this beer festival with the assistance of our hosts Ascot Racecourse. The organising committee have expressed their thanks to all the CAMRA volunteers whose hard work enabled the festival to function smoothly. A special mention should go to the Cellar team, led by John Thirlaway, for their efforts in keeping the beer cool all week and in excellent condition despite the heat.

Staffing Manager Sue Thirlaway said: “Thanks to all who came and drank at the Ascot Beer Festival and helped us to sell out of beer and cider by 4.40pm yesterday. Even more thanks to the volunteers who made it all possible.

Further details about the beer festival can be found on the Ascot Beer Festival website, including the Photo Gallery.







Autumn 2011

Berkshire Pubs Week logo
Support Berkshire Pubs Week
Try Before You Buy logo

The 2011 Berkshire Pubs Week has been set for Saturday 1st - Sunday 9th October, to coincide with National Cask Ale Week. This will be the second Berkshire Pubs Week (BPW), and will be jointly organised by the four Berkshire CAMRA branches.

National Cask Ale Week is organised by CAMRA and Cask Marque, with participating pubs putting on special events and publicising their “Try before you buy” offer, to encourage pub visits with a focus on cask ale.

Look out for special events at Berkshire pubs throughout the week which will also be promoted on social networks (see box below for details).

The BPW opening event will be held at the 5th Ascot Racecourse Beer Festival, staffed by CAMRA volunteers, on Saturday 1st October.

The popular limerick competition will be repeated, with “beer” replacing “ale” as the rhyming word, this year. A beer related prize awaits the winner who completes the rhyme “There once was a drinker of beer...”, using a traditional five line limerick.

There will be a county-wide Berkshire Community Pub award for the first time, with our nominee from Berkshire South-East facing competition from West Berkshire, Reading & Mid Berkshire and Slough Windsor & Maidenhead.

Locally, the New Leathern Bottle at Jeallot's Hill are holding a Photography at the Pub night on Thursday 6th and their annual Steam Fair on Saturday 8th. Also the Molly Millar in Wokingham will be offering a 20% discount off real ales throughout October on production of a CAMRA membership card.

The BPW closing event will be held at 4pm on Sunday 9th October at the Blagrave Arms in Reading.


Blog: berkshirepubsweek.blogspot.com

Twitter: @BerkshirePubs

Facebook: www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=145400888821286&v=wall

Contact Email: bpw@readingcamra.org.uk




Summer 2011

Lions to hold Charity Beer Festival in Wokingham

The Wokingham Lions will be hosting a beer festival over the August Bank Holiday weekend as part of the Wokingham Food and Drink Festival 2011. The festival will take place on Elms Field in Wokingham.


Wokingham Festival Lions Logo

Lions representative John Cleary told us:

We will be serving at least 30 different beers mainly from local breweries along with ciders and perrys. All proceeds will go in to the Wokingham Lions Charity account and be used to support the less fortunate in our local area.

In addition to the beer there will be live bands playing throughout the event which starts at 6.00pm on Friday 26th August and runs through to 4pm on Sunday 28th.

The list of beers can be downloaded here.




Spring 2011

Jack O'Newbury is Branch Pub of the Year Once Again

Congratulations to all at the Jack O'Newbury (Terrace Road North, Binfield, RG42 5PH) whom have been voted as CAMRA Berkshire South-East's Pub of the Year for 2011.

This is the fourth time in five years that the Jack have won this much-coveted award. They previously won it in 2007, 2008 and 2010.

Jack o'Newbury

This year's award was presented to landlord Dave Pepper at the Jack on Thursday 17th November 2011.

Congratulations also to the Crispin (Denmark Street, Wokingham, RG40 2AY) who commendably finished as runners-up. Their presentation took place at the Crispin on Thursday 16th June 2011.




40th Birthday Celebrations Suitably Lubricated

Our own Sue Thirlaway reflects on Berkshire South-East's celebrations of CAMRA's 40th anniversary:

March 2011 marked the fortieth anniversary of the foundation of CAMRA. How to celebrate? With beer of course! Not just any beer, but our own specially commissioned beer from local brewer West Berkshire - WB 40, specially designed to refresh the parts other beers cannot reach. A tasty 4% beer, ruby in colour, was requested from West Berkshire brewers Dave and Helen Maggs and they certainly did not let us down.

group celebrating at the Crispin

Having organised the beer, the next stage was of course to drink it! A party night was arranged at the Crispin, a friendly traditional local in Denmark Street, Wokingham, run by Mick Musson and his team. Trish Boley baked a delicious birthday cake using Fullers’ London Porter along with more traditional ingredients, and decorated it with CAMRA's special 40th birthday logo. Various items of finger food such as onion bhajis and samosas were purchased from the highly recommended Wokingham Tandoori across the road.

Cutting of cake

The WB40 was an excellent brew - malty but not sweet, with a robust bitterness and fruity notes - and was so popular it ran out part way through the evening. West Berkshire’s much loved Dr Hexter’s Healer was also available, and Ascot Ales supplied two excellent very hoppy ales - Aardvark and Single Hop Columbus. Word had got around and the pub was throbbing with real ale drinkers - at least forty, maybe as many as sixty at the height of the evening - who kept Mick, Austin and Emily busy pulling pints until closing time.

Here's looking forward to CAMRA's 50th!




WB-40 Pump Clip logo
WB-40 Celebration Ale Launched

CAMRA turned 40 on the 16th March 2011, and on that date our WB-40 celebration ale became available in pubs across Berkshire. Thanks to the success of our birthday celebration event, the Crispin in Wokingham have already temporarily sold out of WB-40 (although they still had some tasty Ascot Ales Aardvark and Single Hop Columbus at the end of the night). However, if you couldn't make it to the Crispin, there should be plenty of opportunities to try WB-40 yet.

Our very own Jack o'Newbury at Binfield were amongst the first to receive a delivery, along with nearby pubs such as the Hobgoblin, Allied Arms and Blagrave Arms in Reading, plus the Crown at Swallowfield and the Bird in Hand at Knowl Hill.

Other pubs in our area expected to take the beer in the near future include: New Leathern Bottle (Jealotts Hill), Rose & Crown (Sandhurst), Swinley (Ascot), White Hart (Winkfield), Cottage Inn (Maiden's Green) and Jagz (Ascot).

Here's to another 40 years of successful campaigning!








Special Berkshire Ale to Commemorate 40 Years of CAMRA
CAMRA 40th logo

2011 marks the 40th anniversary of the formation of CAMRA, and we are delighted to announce the brewing of a commemorative Berkshire ale. An original idea from within our very own Berkshire South-East branch has been brought to life with the help of neighbouring branches.

The beer will be brewed for us by the West Berkshire Brewery and is to be named “WB-40”. WB-40 will be ruby in colour (ruby signifying a 40th anniversary) and will be a 4.0% ABV beer to mark the 4 decades of CAMRA's existence.

Helen Maggs of West Berkshire Brewery expects the beer to have their brewery's “usual malty, but not sweet character, with a robust bitterness, and fruity notes from all English Hops”.

One hundred casks are planned to be brewed. We will be holding a launch event for the beer at the Crispin in Wokingham on Wednesday 16th March 2011, and WB-40 will be available in pubs across Berkshire from that date.






Winter 2010/11

Loch Fyne logo
CAMRA Discount at Loch Fyne Wokingham

We have secured a special discount for all CAMRA members at the Loch Fyne restaurant in Wokingham. General Manager John Davies would like to welcome all CAMRA members and their families, so he is offering members a discount of 20% off their final bill.

All you need to do is present your CAMRA membership card and sign a form with your details when you set up a tab to eat at the restaurant. Discount does not apply to, and cannot be used with any other promotion in place.

Two real ales are sold, currently:- Greene King IPA at £2.80 and Old Speckled Hen at £3.00 per pint. John plans to have guest beers throughout the summer period, and welcomes customers who only wish to drink in the bar area.

Thanks go to Dave Goater for securing this discount.








Autumn 2010

Berkshire Pub Wins Regional Pub of the Year

A Berkshire pub has won the Pub of the Year award for the CAMRA Central Southern Region. The Bell at Aldworth fought off competion from across Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire to take the prize.

In Round 1 (Berkshire) of the Regional Pub of the Year award the Bell won the contest between the four Berkshire branch Pubs of the Year:

1st Bell, Aldworth (West Berks)
2nd Jack O'Newbury, Binfield (SE Berks)
3rd Carpenter's Arms, Windsor (Slough, Windsor & Maidenhead)
4th Bird in Hand, Knowl Hill (Reading & Mid Berks)

Reassuringly, the Jack O'Newbury (our branch Pub of the Year) polled a very close second, which is an excellent achievement.

In Round 2 (Central Southern), the Bell beat the County Pub of the Year winners from Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire:

1st Bell, Aldworth (Berks)
2nd The Royal Oak, Wantage (Oxon)
3rd The Crown and Sceptre, Bridens Camp, Nr Hemel Hempstead (Bucks)

Bell at Aldworth

The Bell at Aldworth was presented with its Central Southern Region Pub of the Year award on the evening of Thursday 7th October 2010.

Adrian Bean, Chairman of West Berks Branch said of the Bell “'The West Berkshire and Arkell's beers and Uptons and Tutts Clumps real ciders are always in excellent form. Sometimes its better to see a limited, but well-kept range of beers rather than a forest of hand pumps that some pubs do.”

The Bell now goes on to compete against 15 other Regional Pub of Year winners for the National award. See the main CAMRA Website.




Ascot logo
Thankyou to Ascot Beer Festival Volunteers

The Staffing Manager, Organiser and Committee of the Fourth Ascot Racecourse Beer Festival have expressed their thanks to all volunteers that helped out, both serving and behind the scenes.

Staffing Manager Sue Thirlaway said "Our sincere thanks to all the volunteers who helped at this year's Ascot Racecourse Beer Festival. Without you we couldn't have run the festival. We hope you will join us again next year."








Summer 2010

Mad Cows Catch a RAT

On 17th July a group of intrepid branch members caught the Real Ale Train (RAT). This is a steam train that runs on the Watercress Line where real ale is served to passengers.

The night started in the Railway Arms, a popular pub near Alton station that is owned by the Tripple FFF Brewery, where we were able to atune our taste buds to the local brews.

Once aboard the real ale train, we managed to get seats in an optimal location, right next to the bar carriage and close to the food carriage.

The bar treated us to a selection of bright beers from the breweries of Langham, Harveys and Tripple FFF, plus a Newton cider. The Langham's Hip Hop went down particularly well on the night.

Engine of the Real Ale Train

We contentedly supped away as the steam engine hauled us through the picturesque Hampshire countryside between Alton and Alresford. There were plenty of station stops plus opportunities to watch the engine manoever from one end of the train to the other each time we turned around.

One of the highlights of the night was each time we encountered the other train running along the Watercress Line that night. The passengers on that train were dressed-up to the nines and eating a posh meal. Their reactions were priceless as we held up our pint glasses and called out “Cheers!”

Photos from the trip can be found in the Gallery.





Ascot Ales - Brave or Bonkers!

In an article written exclusively for SE Berks CAMRA, Suzanne Gill of Ascot Ales reflects on just why she and her husband Chris choose to run a family micro-brewery, and gives us a taster of what they will be brewing next:

As we enter our fourth year of trading we often get asked 'what on earth made you go into the beer business?'. With a background in retail sales, buying and marketing from the luggage industry what could be more different? But our passion for beer came from spending a lot of time in Belgium for work so I guess it was either going to be beer or chocolate.

Ascot Ales had been set up by a Swiss American in June 2007 using a 4 Barrel Porter plant and 2 fermenters, at that time we had started dabbling in beer through Quaffs, our 2 x 4m beer stall at Spitalfields Market in East London selling over 200 global bottled beers. We knew of Ascot Ales and really liked the beers and when the opportunity came along to buy the business we jumped at it. That was in December 2007.

Ascot Ales Dray at Ascot Racecourse

In a small, anonymous industrial unit in Camberley, barely bigger than a double garage we were producing just over 2000 pints a week and had 3 regular ales; Posh Pooch our 4.2% best bitter, Alligator Ale a 4.6% hoppy golden ale and Anastasia's Exile Stout a 5% beautiful black complex stout. We were certainly on the micro end of microbrewery's when you compare it to Loddon Brewery's then capacity of over 28000 pints a week!

Now, as we celebrate our 3rd birthday and enter our 4th year of trading sales have grown and the brewery has even got a bit bigger with the addition of an adjoining unit at the same location. Some walls came down and we now have a total space of just under 2000 sq ft with the same brew plant but with additional fermenters taking our potential capacity to nearly 6000 pints a week. We now brew 5 regular beers and plenty of seasonals. But we're still very much a microbrewery, our beers are truly handcrafted from beginning to end.

Small can be beautiful and we are very proud to have received over 20 awards for our ales, most recently winning Overall LocAle of the Festival for our Anastasia's Imperial Stout 8% at Reading Beer Festival in May, one of the largest in the country. At least we now have a wall long enough to display them all!

Ascot Ales Brewery

We are lucky to have the support of some gems of freehouses that take our ales regularly on a guest basis and also pubs that have our beers on a permanent pump such as Jagz in Ascot. They trialled our Posh Pooch 4.2% best bitter against Fullers London Pride in the autumn last year and it sold so well that they now also have Alley Cat our 3.8% bitter permanently on the bar too which replaced Deuchars IPA. They are truly a LocAle pub.

We even brew a couple of exclusive house beers for some pubs. The Rowbarge in Guildford is right next to the river and stocks locally brewed beers from the SIBA Direct Delivery Scheme. Our Posh Pooch and On The Rails (our 3.8% hoppy mild) are permanently available and also their newly launched Compass Point Ale 4% brewed specially by us as their house beer. A real LocAle recipe using malts from Berkshire, Surrey, Wiltshire and Hampshire and hops from Kent and at 4% a session beer to savour with barely any food miles to worry about.

Chris is currently working on our seasonal range for the autumn which will includes favourites such as Double Trouble 5.4% (belgian dubbel style) from late August, Oktoberfest 4.8% for Sept/Oct plus our Penguin Porter 4.5% which was initially brewed as a seasonal in April but due to demand has become a semi regular. There is also a waiting list for our Anastasia's Imperial Stout so we have to squeeze that in when we can. There are also some ideas bouncing around for a belgian tripel style at over 6% and playing with additional flavours in some current recipes such as vanilla, hazelnut, peach, raspberry.... And we have to fit in a festival special for the Ascot Racecourse Beer Festival at the end of September and also a special beer to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Croydon Tramlink in South London for mid October. Now you know why we needed the extra capacity!

Ascot Ales Brewery

So bonkers or brave....? When the alarm goes off at 4.45am most mornings with a packed day ahead of brewing, bottling, delivering, sales, marketing and not to mention the paperwork then bonkers must seem the most apt. Brave....probably as it is tough out there and with competition in the microbrewery sector growing each year and the pressures of increasing taxation and running costs can make it difficult to sleep some nights. So if any of you out there know a terrific pub that would like to try our beers let us know! I guess we're both bonkers and brave, we're doing something we love and giving many people pleasure in drinking our beers and supporting a small, family run local business.

Cheers!




Redan Under Threat

The future of the Redan (Peach Street, Wokingham, RG40 1XG) is under threat. Pubs Officer Dave Goater has learnt that planning began in April to develop the site into further retail outlets and dwellings.

The consultation process was completed in June, featuring 8 opposition entries; Dave identified a suggested CAMRA letter template to file an opposition and, albeit late, sent the letter (below), to which receipt was confirmed.

Letter to Planning Officer regarding Redan

Dave has also written to local MP, John Redwood, but no help has been forthcoming.

It is hoped that the pub will remain open in its current form, and the branch will keep abreast of the situation as it develops.




Spring 2010

Jack O'Newbury wins Branch Pub of the Year

Congratulations to all at the Jack O'Newbury (Terrace Road North, Binfield, RG42 5PH) whom have been voted as CAMRA Berkshire South-East's Pub of the Year for 2010.

This is the third time in four years that the Jack have won this much-coveted award. They previously won it in 2007 and 2008.

Branch Chairman Nick Boley (seen below left presenting the award to Landlord Dave Pepper) said “this is a true community local selling good beer and giving a warm welcome. Unlike many local pubs, when you walk in you are greeted by the landlord himself with a cheery smile and a few welcoming words. The beers come mainly from local brewers, which is sadly too rare in this area”.

Dave Pepper receiving 2010 POTY Award from Nick Boley

This year's award was presented at the Jack on Thursday 17th June. Dave obtained a cask of Knight of the Garter, the new beer from the recently established Windsor & Eton Brewery which went down very well on the night.

Congratulations also to the Bull at Barkham (Barkham Road, Barkham, RG41 4TL) who commendably finished as runners-up. Their presentation took place on Wednesday 30th June. Pictured below branch members help celebrate the award with landlord and landlady Adrian and Susie Brunswick.

Adrian and Susie Brunswick with 2010 POTY Runners-Up Award and celebrating SE Berks CAMRA members



The Rose and Crown at Sandhurst has a new bar

The long awaited work at the Rose and Crown (High St, Sandhurst, GU47 8HA) has finally been completed with a new extension being added to the bar, additional decking added, leading out to the garden at the rear.

QO

Pub landlord Barry, is delighted with the increased bar space and has worked hard in the old bar area, turning the old area into something that is much more pleasing to the eye. With the addition of extra handpumps Barry is hoping to stock an additional 3 draft bitters making nine hand drawn beers during busy sessions.

Q1




10% off Wadworth's beers for CAMRA members at the Wheelwrights Arms

On Saturday 13th March, we were informed by landlord Kevin that The Wheelwrights Arms (Davis Way, St Nicholas Hurst, RG10 0TR) are now in the CAMRA discount scheme. Camra members will benefit from a 10% reduction in the price of Wadworth's beer.

Wheelwrights Arms

Not only should we support Kevin by going and drinking in the Wheelwrights, but we also ought to think of this as a campaigning opportunity for the branch and see if we can encourage other pubs to follow suit. So don't forget your membership card when visiting the Wheelwrights in the near future.




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WEBSITE LAST UPDATED: 18th November 2017