BEER: Truman’s reborn

In fact, the brand had not been poured for over 20 years, but it’s highly likely his last sip of Truman’s was a lot earlier: its decline had begun in 1971 when the independent Truman’s succumbed to an aggressive bid, precipitating the gradual sale of its breweries and pubs.

Even such a long-time loyal Truman’s drinker wouldn’t, however, have experienced the beer’s peak period – which was the late 1800s, when Shoreditch was home to a mass of brewers. During this time, “East London was the capital of brewing in the world and Truman’s was the biggest brewer,” records Morgan, adding: “It is part of east London heritage and the breweries then weren’t just beer factories – they represented something.”

Currently Morgan believes as many as 120 pubs in London still have “Truman livery” and Hemus and Morgan report a widespread residual affection among those who remember drinking it, but also a renaissance in this part of the city due to the influx of new residents. “There is a younger, more enthusiastic crowd moving in who are interested in locally sourced products.”

Bringing the beer brand back to life was, however, a lengthy and painstaking process. There had been so many mergers and acquisitions since Truman’s had closed that it was, Morgan says, extremely difficult just finding out who owned the brand.

Having eventually discovered it was Scottish & Newcastle, the two, who were both working full-time, approached the group. “The initial response was: ‘Who are you? And we are not interested’.”

trumans2.jpgFurther phoning saw them passed onto S&N’s external lawyers whom, Hemus recalls: “We called once a week for six months, until they put us onto the internal lawyers, whom we called twice a week for three months.” Such was the pair’s persistence that S&N eventually agreed to release the brand but, as Hemus points out: “It was amazing no-one in the innovation department thought, if these guys are really this interested then maybe there’s something here.”

The story did not end there. “The agreement was essentially on the table,” continues Hemus, “but then S&N got bought by Heineken and there was another hiatus. As we were dealing with the same people, it just delayed the sale by six months.”

Then came the research. “We had to learn about the history of Truman’s properly and we went to the London Metropolitan Archives where the paperwork was.” Apparently, every recipe of each beer brewed by Truman’s from the 1830s and 1920s is recorded, but “no-one knows where the records are from the ’50s and ’60s. Allegedly they were burnt”.

Nevertheless, Morgan and Hemus were able to analyse the constituents of Truman’s first ever India Pale Ale, or brews destined for those fighting the Crimean War and, importantly, the recipe for a London Porter because Truman had invented the style.

Next, however, they needed someone to make the modern Truman’s, and enlisted the help of friend and respected brewer Tom Knox from the Nethergate Brewery in Essex. Although they had enough information about the ingredients of the former Truman’s beers, they decided not to recreate an old brew, but a new one inspired by what they’d learnt. This was both for practical reasons and the evolution of tastes since the ’50s.

One Response to “BEER: Truman’s reborn”

  1. Peter Davidson says:

    Glad to see a famous old name revived. What a pity the old brewery’s disappeared. Perhaps one day Watneys & Charringtons will be re-born. Good Luck for future

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that comments are subject to our posting guidelines in accordance with the Defamation Act 2013. Posts containing swear words, discrimination, offensive language and libellous or defamatory comments will not be approved.

We encourage debate in the comments section and always welcome feedback, but if you spot something you don't think is right, we ask that you leave an accurate email address so we can get back to you if we need to.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Supply Chain Assistant

Speciality Drinks
London NW10 7SF, UK

On-Trade Regional Sales Manager

Anthony Byrne Fine Wines
West Midlands & Northants

Supply Chain Co-ordinator

Speciality Drinks
London NW10 7SF, UK

Logistics Team Leader

Speciality Drinks
London, UK

Key Account Executive

Berkmann Wine Cellars
London, UK

Assistant Operations Manager

Speciality Drinks
London, UK

Technical Manager

North South Wines
West Drayton, UK

Key Account Manager

MMI Maldives
Maldives

TERRITORY SALES MANAGER

Eurowines Limited
Harrogate, UK

Business Manager - Impulse

Australian Vintage
Croydon, UK

Exclusive Masterclass: Chablis on Tour

London,United Kingdom
29th Apr 2019

Vinexpo Bordeaux

Bordeaux,France
13th May 2019

London Wine Fair 2019

London,United Kingdom
20th May 2019
Click to view more

The Global Organic Masters 2019

Deadline : 19th April 2019

The Global Grenache Masters 2019

Deadline : 26th April 2019

Click to view more

The Global Riesling Masters 2018

View Results

Rioja Masters 2018

View Results

Click to view more