John's Blog

Very occassional writings about some experiences...

Hogs Back Brewery Tour, 23 August 2014

The tour started at 3.30pm. We were there 20 mins early - I was really excited, and a bit worried, about all the beer that was coming. We had been pre-warned that we would need to arrange an alternative means of getting home afterwards - so we went by taxi.

Mel was the tour guide, and was hilarious! He was not at all prejudiced against anyone who did not come from Surrey. He lived in 'Upper Arsh Vale', where they look down on the ordinary folk of Ash.

Here he is showing us a part of the flooring they use to dry off the malt.

This room is the viewing gallery, where anyone visiting the shop can see what is going on. But not at weekends - they don't brew at weekends. They usually brew 11,500 pints a day and at busy times they can do two brews a day.

Here was where the beer started flowing with copious amounts of HBB (Hogs back Bitter). We were given a souvenir 1/2 pint glass that was ours to keep. The HBB was so nice I had 3 glasses of it (TOTAL now 1.5 pints).

We also had the opportunity to taste some of the malt - it was a bit chewy, but had a definite 'malty' taste. We then went down the metal stairs to where the brewing is done. 

Down here was where the malt is mixed with the water and then the result has hops added. I may get some of the techicalities wrong here as here we were offered some more beer. This time TEA (Traditional English Ale). Again, it was so nice I had 3 glasses (TOTAL now 3 pints).

Next we went into what seemed to be a meeting room. Mel described it as a 'hospitality suite', as it was very posh (it had a carpet). The photo shows just some of the many awards the various beers have won over the years.

Here we learnt about the strengths of the beers and about the fermenting process. Don't ask for details as there was another lovely beer on offer. This time 'Endeavour'. Again it was so nice I had another 3 glasses (TOTAL now 4.5 pints). I had now hit my usual limit for drinking real ale, but there was more to come. We went outside to the seating area where there were 2 more beers and a cider waiting for us. The first one was 'Tawny', which was the only one of the tour I was not too keen on (but is was still pretty good). I did, however love the lager (unusual for me - but this one had some real taste) and the cider.

All in all, I am surprised I remembered as much as I did as my total intake of alcoholic beverage was 6 pints!

It was a great way to spend an afternoon, and excellent vale for £12.50. For this you get the services of a stand up comedian, a souvenir glass, and literally as much top notch beer as you can drink. What's not to love about that!

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All photographs copyright John Ferguson