Pub operator Brakspear has returned to its brewing roots with the opening of a new microbrewery in Henley-on-Thames.
Brakspear’s Tom Davies with brewer Malcolm Mayo
The Bell Street Brewery will brew Brakspear Special, which was brewed at the original Brakspear brewery in New Street. The microbrewery sits within Brakspear’s newly-redeveloped Bull on Bell Street pub.
The Bell Street Brewery will produce four barrels of Brakspear Special a week, most of it for sale in the Bull, with limited quantities being made available to other pubs in Henley and surrounding areas.
Tom Davies, Brakspear chief executive, said, “Brewing was as much a part of the Brakspear business as pubs until the sale of the brewery in 2002, and cask ale is still a vital part of our pubs’ appeal. Brakspear Special achieved near-legendary status in and around Henley, so bringing it back to the town and restoring the link between brewery and pubs seems the right move and one which has been welcomed locally. It feels great for Brakspear to be brewing again.
Brakspear Special, a 4.3% abv bitter, was originally brewed in Henley for over 40 years before production of all Brakspear beers transferred to Witney in 2004.
Malcolm Mayo, who from 2001 was quality manager at Marston’s Wychwood Brewery where Brakspear beers are brewed, is in charge of the brewing, with help from the Bull team.
Davies added: “We’re delighted that Malcolm has come on board to brew Brakspear Special for us: there is nobody in the country with a better understanding of the beer and how to brew it. We’re confident that the beer brewed at the Bell Street Brewery is now ready to be enjoyed by the many Brakspear Special enthusiasts in Henley.”
Mayo said: “Having been involved with Brakspear Special for many years, I’ve enjoyed playing a part in its move back to Henley. Recreating it in new surroundings has been a relatively smooth process, with the first trial brew coming out almost spot on. We’ve done some refining since then and now have a beer that is Brakspear Special as it was meant to be – a classic, well-balanced English bitter.”
Malcolm will be assisted in the brewery by a handful of team members from the Bull. The plan is for everyone working at the pub, both front of house and in the kitchen, will be trained to brew and will spend time regularly in the brewery. Davies added: “We’re keen to make the brewery an integral part of the pub. With training, everyone at the Bull will understand how Brakspear Special is produced and will take great pride in selling it to their customers.”