THE MAGAZINE FOR READING AND MID
BERKSHIRE BRANCH OF THE CAMPAIGN
FOR REAL ALE
IN THIS ISSUE...
PUB & BREWERY NEWS
ON THE TRAIL AGAIN
THE END OF AN ERA?
THE BRANCH AND BEER
FESTIVAL NEED YOU!
THE FUTURE OF YOUR READING & MID BERKS CAMRA BRANCH
IS AT STAKE
ISSUE FORTY FOUR WINTER 2017/2018
FREE - PLEASE TAKE A COPY Mine’s A Pint
Mine’s A Pint
All events start at 20.00 and are open to everybody unless
Thu 7: (20.00) Branch Meeting. Foresters Arms, 79-81
Brunswick Street RG1 6NY. CAMRA members only, please.
Sat 9: (13.00) Windsor pub crawl, meet at Carpenters Arms,
4 Market Street, Windsor SL4 1PB and then visit 4 or 5
other pubs in Windsor/Eton. This event is run by our friends
at SWM branch. Trains from Reading 12:03, Slough 12:30
arrival Windsor 12:36, return from Windsor 18:00, (or 18:20,
18:40 & 19:00) Slough 18:11 arrival Reading 18:38.
Thu 11: (19:30 for 20:00) New year dinner at Sweeney &
Todd, 10 Castle Street, Reading RG1 7RD. Please email
email@example.com to reserve a dining place.
Sun 14: (12.05) First PotY Social. Meet at the Retreat, 4 St
John’s Street RG1 4EH. Move on at 13.00 for 13.10 number
10 bus to Bell & Bottle, 37 School Green, Shinfield, RG2 9EE,
to arrive at 13.40. I have booked a table for 13.45. Please
email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to join
our table for dinner.
Sun 28: Social trip to Pewsey. Royal Oak, 35 North Street
SN9 5ES, plus 4 or 5 other pubs. Train time TBC
Sat 10: Ale Trail Launch - Venue and Time TBC
Sat 3: East London Ale Trail. Meet at 11.30 Whitechapel
station. A five mile crawl of East London pubs and taprooms,
starting at Whitechapel station, and ending at Hackney Wick.
For more details see www.ELAT18.eventbrite.co.uk
Useful contact details for this
magazine, CAMRA and other
Mine’s a Pint Circulation: 3,000.
Outlets: Over 70 across the region.
Editor: Phil Gill
0771 455 0293
81 Addison Road, Reading, RG1 8EG
Magazine published on behalf of
Reading and Mid Berkshire CAMRA
Neil Richards MBE at Matelot
01536 358670 / 07710 281381
Printed by Portland Printers, Bartley
Northants, NN16 8UN.
Reading & Mid Berkshire CAMRA
Social Secretary: Chris Hinton
Contact for all other branch matters:
0779 401 9437
Local Trading Standards
Reading Borough Council:
www.reading.gov.uk 0118 937 3737
West Berkshire Council:
www.westberks.gov.uk 01635 519930
Royal Borough of Windsor &
www.rbwm.gov.uk 01628 683800
Wokingham Borough Council:
www.wokingham.gov.uk 0118 974
The next issue of Mine’s a Pint will be
published in early March. Please
feel free to submit any copy or ideas
by 10 th February.
Mine’s A Pint
The opinions expressed in Mine’s a Pint
are not necessarily those of the editor or
the Campaign for Real Ale. © Campaign
for Real Ale 2017.
From The (Guest) Editor
Our stalwart editor, Phil, has handed the reins
to me for this edition. Having edited every
single one of 43 publications of “Mine’s A
Pint” he is taking a much earned holiday, and
we wish him and Sandie a wonderful time.
43! That’s eleven years’ worth! After putting
together just this one, I can assure you that
he gets neither enough credit, nor thanks, so
if you see him in the pub, buy him a pint; He
particularly likes Stouts, Milds, and Porters.
When I agreed to take on this edition, it was
not with any inkling that it might be the final
THE FUTURE OF THE
BRANCH IS HANGING IN
THE BALANCE, WHICH
PUTS THIS MAGAZINE, THE
BEER FESTIVAL, AND THE
ALE TRAIL AT RISK.
At the time of writing, a skeleton committee are
putting together mailouts to branch members
to appeal for volunteers to stand for committee
positions, if you aren’t on the mailing list then
you can find information and contact details
in these pages.
The situation is stark - We have 3 months from
the date of the last AGM to turn things around,
if this does not happen then the branch will
be dissolved. For the beer festival to be viable
however, progress needs to come much sooner;
we must be able to commit to spending for
infrastructure orders to go in.
We don’t know what the future holds, but it’s
in your hands.
Mine’s A Pint
BRANCH DIARY 3
FROM THE EDITOR 4
THE FUTURE OF READING & MID BERKS CAMRA 5
PUB & BREWERY NEWS 6-9
GEORGE ORWELL & THE PERFECT PUB 10
BEHIND THE BAR 11-12
PUB OF THE YEAR 13
ON THE TRAIL AGAIN 14
SARDINIAN BREWING ADVENTURE 15-16
BEER & CIDER FESTIVAL 18
AWARDS EVENING 23-24
WINTER ALES 25
YOU NEED YOUR GLASSES! 26-27
JOIN CAMRA 28-30
The future of Reading
& Mid Berkshire CAMRA
The Reading & Mid Berkshire CAMRA branch
held its AGM on Saturday 11th November.
Unfortunately, this resulted in several positions
remaining unfilled, including some very key ones.
These are as follows.
• Vice Chairman
• Pub Campaign
• Locale Coordinator
• Press and Publicity
• Public Affairs
THE BRANCH NEEDS YOU!
It is crucial that people step forward if we are
to continue. Please make an effort to attend the
meeting at the Foresters and please email contact@
readingcamra.org.uk if you would be willing to
stand for a role – we would be delighted to hear
from you. You can also contact the outgoing
Chair, Quinten Taylor, on 07887 424232.
Without the three key committee roles filled, the
branch cannot function and cannot spend any
THIS MEANS THAT CURRENTLY
WE CANNOT RUN EITHER
THE ALE TRAIL OR THE BEER
FESTIVAL, AND MAY MEAN
THAT THE BRANCH WILL BE
DISSOLVED IN 3 MONTHS TIME
IF NOTHING HAS CHANGED.
We have enough of a committee that we can
rebuild but getting a Chairman is crucial. The
Committee ultimately needs to consist of 8
different individuals so there is a need for 3 extra
The next branch meeting will be focused around
“Saving the Branch”. It will be held at the
Foresters Arms on Thursday 7 December at 8pm.
Keep an eye on facebook and the branch website
for latest updates.
PUBLICANS & BAR MANAGERS,
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REGULAR BEER LINE
EASE YOUR WORKLOAD
Contact Simon Grist today for
your FREE first clean
Serving over 1,000
Mob: 07817 950853 Office: 0118 954 0568
Several of our
featured in the
Good Beer Guide
Mine’s A Pint
Pub & Brewery News
We understand that the Arborfield Green Garden
Village has a new pub proposed as part of the
After the reporting in the previous issue that the
Bramshill Hunt had closed, we are pleased to say
that it is re-opened under a holding company.
Bingham’s Twyford Tipple is back on as a regular
beer. Please pop in and show your support for this
large family-friendly pub.
The Swan is reported as closed. We understand
that it was listed for auction but we don’t know
if it was sold or if so, who has purchased it.
With the huge new housing development nearby,
surely there is scope for this to be a successful and
popular local pub?
Popular local food traders at the Georgian Feast
have taken up a Sunday brunch residency at
the Island. Filled ‘boats’ are available alongside
wraps. Doors open at 11am.
The Victoria has had a spruce-up but no longer
appears to be selling real ale. However the other
two pubs in the village both do – the Turners Arms
has four from the Marston’s list, and the Horse &
Groom were carrying two Wychwood beers when
our reporter visited on Halloween.
The Basingstoke Road HP site development will
have a new pub/restaurant constructed – we
understand this is to be a Beefeater, so unlikely to
be somewhere to set the pulse racing if so – we
don’t recall seeing many Beefeater outlets in the
Good Beer Guide...
The Castle Tap will be running its annual
December Giving Tree campaign, in association
with Launchpad, from the December 10 th to 22 nd ;
Donations of nonperishable items - tins/packets
etc, can be left at the bar, or under the tree, and will
be collected for distribution on the 22 nd . Winter
events include an evening decorating the tree on
the 10 th December, and a mince pie competition to
be judged on the 22 nd .
The Fox & Hounds now has a permanently
covered outdoor section, which also has its own
bar. Ideal for those warm nights or to cool off
from a warm evening inside the pub!
The Autumn beer festival hangovers may have
receded, but beer continues to flow, and the pub is
planning a Belgian beer promotion for January
to chase away your winter blues. There is also
a return of the Wild Weather Beer and Music
Takeover in planning for January.
Mine’s A Pint
The pub has also been making space for a variety
of music from punk to blues over the last couple of
months, and there is more planned, possibly
including a 3 rd birthday gig, so keep your eyes
online for band announcements.
The long-closed Corn Stores has been purchased
by Havisham Group and will re-open again as a
pub with a dining emphasis. The new owners are
also behind the Shurlock Inn at Shurlock Row,
so there’s a real cause for optimism. The press
elease states “ The Corn Stores,
a sizeable Victorian pub spread
over four floors, will undergo
extensive renovation work
before it’s re-opening in 2018
and will become part of the
Rarebreed Dining operation.”
A number of reporters are
saying good things about
the beer range and quality in
the ‘new’ Eldon Arms. This
is very encouraging as we
thought a few months ago
that we had lost the pub
when it was sold by Wadworth. The
pub also ran its first mini beer festival in October.
At the time of writing, the in-house brewery at the
Great Expectations had suspended brewing.
The Greyfriar will be closed for a few days around
20 th November for a bit of a refurb to increase the
number of cask and keg ales they sell. We
understand that handpumps will increase from six
The Island Lounge on Kennet Island is reported as
closed and its future uncertain.
At the University of Reading, the Park House bar
(formerly known as the SCR) stocks up to five cask
beers and a large number of these are from local
breweries. Quality and consistency is high. Do
note that non-accredited vehicles are not allowed
on campus until after 5pm - however there is a very
regular bus service that drops off in the campus
outside Whiteknights House and Park House is
less than 5 mins on foot thereafter. Open from
Midday during University term-time and 4pm
during Christmas and Easter vacation periods.
The Pitcher & Piano has had a refurbishment. We
understand that two real ales from the Marston’s
list continue to be available.
There is a new quiz night at the Retreat on every
2 nd Wednesday evening of the month.
The Three Guineas (which, you will remember,
was the subject of a massive refurbishment by
Fullers a few months ago) always stocks that
brewery’s seasonal and speciality beers.
David and Clare Richards celebrated their 10-year
anniversary of running the Hop Leaf on Friday
25 th August. Congratulations from us here at
Reading CAMRA, the Hop has been a Good Beer
Guide stalwart for
the last few years and
hosts one of the finest
bar billiards tables
in the county. It also
sells Westons cider
Mine’s A Pint
We’ve been asked to point out that the cover of
last months issue was taken at the Allied Arms.
Look out for their Payday Beer Festival at the end
of every month.
Tom is the new licensee of the Shurlock Inn. With
a reputation as a dining pub, he is keen to stress
that he’s happy to welcome drinkers in irrespective
of whether they are eating or not. At least three
local ales are always available.
Landlord Dave Kesterton who has been running
the Victoria and overseen welcome improvement
in that once-maligned pub, has now also taken the
nearby Butchers Arms on Lower Armour Road.
Doom Bar and – more importantly – West
Berkshire Good Old Boy will be permanent plus a
guest ale to be confirmed.
Harveys Sussex Best – a rare beer to find in
Berkshire – is regularly available at the Waggon &
Horses. Quality has been reported as good by our
Drink Rebellion cask ale
at home, fresh from the
Fresh beer, ready to drink
1 litre bottles up to 72 pint barrels
including 10% OFF beer
Over 300 worldwide wines
Free glass hire
Call 01628 476594
Shop opening hours:
Or visit our website:
Rebellion Beer Co. Ltd. Bencombe Farm, Marlow Bottom, SL7 3LT
Mine’s A Pint
Ascot Ales has become Ascot Brewing company.
Ascot Brewing has been busy since the new owners
took over in the summer. Chris Davies and Mike
Neame are joined by John Willatts, formerly Head
Brewer at Binghams Brewery in Twyford, who will
assume day-to-day responsibility for the Brewery.
They have undertaken a review of the overall
branding, drawing from the company’s existing
provenance. Pumpclips and labels have been redesigned,
and beers re-named, drawing from the
They now produce:
Anastasia’s Exile Stout. 5/4 Favourite (was
Alligator Ale), Final Furlong (was Posh Pooch),
Gold Cup, On the Rails, as well as a continuing
range of seasonal specials such as Winter Reserve
Binghams had a tap takeover at the Greyfriar on
Thursday 16 th November where there was the
launch of a brand new beer Chocolate Orange
The brewery have also taken on a temporary
brewer to help with the seasonal increase in
production. The aptly named Pete Brew was
a founding member of Big Smoke brewery in
London, he will be with Bingham’s until January.
THE CHILTERN BREWERY
The Chiltern Brewery have won 3 top awards
from the highly respected Society of Independent
Brewers (Siba) at their Midlands awards. Bottled
300s Dark Old Ale, which is certified gluten free,
won Gold in the Small Pack, Strong Bitters & Pale
Ales category, draught Chiltern Pale Ale ‘Bronze’
in the Cask Standard Bitters & Pale Ales and
draught porter Chiltern Black ‘Bronze’ in the Cask
Speciality Mid to Dark Beers section.
The awards are judged mostly by brewers, industry
experts and beer journalists, so are very much seen
as the ‘Brewers’ Choice Awards’ by the industry.
The Brewery has also released a range of new
limited-edition bottle-conditioned authentic
Imperial Stouts. There are 3 to choose from –
Tudor Spiced 6.8%, Dark Coffee 7% and Export
Original 10% - all in 375ml Champagne style
bottles with detailed historical and tasting notes
on the labels.
Seasonal draught beers on now include award
winning 300s Dark Old Ale 4.9% - until January.
A brand-new beer, Oatmeal Stout 4.1%, will be
available in December.
The ales can be ordered for delivery online from
www.chilternbrewery.co.uk or collected from
the Brewery Shop in Terrick. There is a special
Christmas Brewery Shop there too with unique
beer gift ideas and free tasters.
Hook Norton Brewery opened a new Malthouse
Kitchen restaurant on Thursday 9 th November.
Located in the original Maltings building, which
has been restored back to its period look with red
brick walls, ironwork, and wooden floors, The
Malthouse Kitchen guests can enjoy a café style
menu featuring freshly prepared local food over
the breakfast and lunchtime periods.
Many of the dishes will include Hook Norton’s
award-winning ale – e.g., Old Hooky Steak & Ale
Pie, Buttered Toast & Hooky Gold Marmalade.
A full range of teas and hand ground coffee will
be available along with homemade cakes and
pastries. There will, of course, be a bar, serving the
latest range of Hook Norton ales.
The Malthouse Kitchen will be open seven days
a week and will also be available for private hire.
Hocus Pocus Old Ale (4.6%) is now available in
draught and bottles. Available from the brewery in
3.6, 9, 18, 36, and 72-pints.
September saw Moog Brew’s application for a
premises licence for the brewery taproom/bottle
shop (aka #moogBAR) approved. The premises
licence allows you to buy and collect beers from
the brewery, by prior appointment, any day of the
week. It will also allow them to hold up to 52 open
days each year, (previously restricted to 21 days).
Mine’s A A Pint Pint
Mine’s A Pint
Seventy Years after George
Orwell and the Perfect Pub
It is now over
seventy years since
the author George
Farm, 1984 etc)
wrote about his
ideal pub calling it
“The Moon Under
Water”. It is no
there are now at
least 14 pubs with
this name in the
but in Orwell’s
mind it summed up
his view of a pub
as he said “if anyone knows of a pub that has
draught stout, open fires, cheap meals, a garden,
motherly barmaids and no radio, I should be glad
to hear of it, even though its name were something
as prosaic as the Red Lion or the Railway Arms”.
(Evening Standard, 9 February 1946)
With the publication of “The Good Beer Guide”
in September it is an interesting exercise to see that
what makes a great pub has not changed much in
The key points can be summed up as follows:
• The architecture should be solid (Orwell
• An open fire in winter.
• Different bars to enable everyone to enjoy
• Games such as darts to be played only in the
public bar so there was no danger to life and
limb whilst walking.
• The pub is quiet enough to talk without a
radio or piano (or Sky tv !!)
• Staff are friendly and know customers names
and where they don’t, will call them “dear”
irrespective of age or gender.
• It takes pride in its drinks and serves them
well in decent glasses.
• A good draught stout is served (Orwell’s
• It may not serve full dinners but you can
always get something to eat albeit sandwiches
or cheese and pickles.
• The pub has a decent garden where it is a
pleasure to drink on a warm summer evening
and where children can happily play.
Orwell finished his article by saying that there
were no pubs he knew with all these qualities
although he knew of one with the majority and
Behind the Bar
Nick Willson, licensee and co-owner of The Flowing Spring
Hazel and I have run The Flowing Spring for seven
years. In June we managed to buy the freehold
from Fuller’s giving us the freedom to operate it to
its full potential. Exciting times.
This article describes some of our thoughts about
the trade having been both tenants and now
To start with, anyone who runs a pub or is
considering it needs at least one screw loose.
Swilling a pint with your mates as a customer has
always been a fine tradition. Even clocking on
for occasional bar shifts is rather fun. But to take
on a pub, hook, line and sinker, you need to be
Working the longest of hours, turning your hands
to everything from finances and bookkeeping to
marketing, cellar management, food, cleaning,
maintenance, gardening, supplier relations,
staffing, health and safety, legal responsibilities,
customer management (yes, they need managing!),
media relations and so on. Madness.
To be fair, my only work experience is in country
pubs so I can’t speak for the many townies where
with greater footfall and an attractive offer the
business should stand a reasonable chance. In
the villages and out in the sticks it’s somewhat
different. It has to suit the small community of
which it becomes an intrinsic part and, crucially, it
needs to offer something special and attractive to
entice punters from further afield and keep them
returning, getting them hooked. The locals alone,
bless them, aren’t enough these days.
Many of us will recall the days when we’d pub
crawl by car into the wilderness and ever wonder
how we got home. Of course that’s all changed
Mine’s A Pint
and rightly so; Therefore anyone making the
decision to grab their car or bike keys and make
that journey for a pint needs good reason.
cheffing for the widest range of establishments
from chains to high-end independent restaurants.
And she has a great knowledge of real ale. My
background is marketing: corporate for many
years, then freelancing to small firms for many
more. Working from home can be a solitary
existence so I began part-time work in the local
pub. With the help of Stefano the landlord, I
learned cellar management, grew to understand
the mechanics of a busy pub and kitchen in full
swing and together we looked at marketing his
business in new ways, all valuable experience. Stef
also taught me one unforgettable lesson: When
you have your own pub and the money’s rolling
in, remember, it’s not yours! How true. Once the
brewery, suppliers, council, utilities, staff and the
lovely taxman have collectively wrenched their
funds from your hard-earned, there’s not much
It was at that pub that Hazel and I got together.
Over many beers we decided to pool our
professional skills and seek out the ideal pub for
us. The Flowing Spring was right under our noses
and it fitted our hefty business plan. It’s been a
fine, traditional country pub since the late 1700s
with excellent ales, a charming quirkiness, almost
an acre of land to exploit and a decent location on
the main road between Reading and Henley. So
Fuller’s took us on as tenants in December 2010
and we set to work giving it some much needed
TLC. We wanted its inherent charm to thoroughly
shine so we enhanced its cosiness and quirkiness.
We launched menus for people with dietary
needs which have gone from strength to strength,
winning national awards. We set to work putting
on all sorts of events including astronomy nights,
THE FLOWING SPRING,
HENLEY ROAD, PLAYHATCH,
OXFORDSHIRE RG4 9RB
Mondays closed. Tuesday to Friday open 12:00
till 2:30pm and 5:30pm till 11pm. Saturday and
Sunday open midday till 11:00.
Homemade food including gluten-free, dairy-free,
vegetarian, and vegan served Tuesday to Saturday
noon to 2:15pm and 6pm to 9pm, Sundays noon
to 2:15pm only.
live music, charity fundraising weekends and
auctions, beer festivals, classic car and bike meets,
stand-up comedy nights, unplugged nights and
lots more. Each event was designed to attract new
customers from far and wide. And, importantly,
we gained Camra’s and Cask Marque’s recognition
for our range and quality of ales. We’re proud to
have been South Oxfordshire Camra Pub of the
Season twice and we’re in the Good Beer Guide for
the sixth consecutive year.
We purchased the freehold from the brewery in
June 2017 and set about giving the pub it’s own
identity and expanding the drinks offer. We now
have a choice of six real ales. London Pride and
ESB remain (they have their fan clubs), but now
we’re like children in a sweet shop, selecting
staggeringly good beers every week. We tend to go
for big, robust flavours with great balances of malt
and hops rather than the perfumed, citrusy hopped
ales with scents of plug-in air fresheners. But that’s
the traditionalist in us – and in our customers.
We’ve also expanded our range of gluten-free
beers, vegan beers and wines and, unusually, offer
a large range of really good alcohol-free beers.
• Unplugged Night - Any music, any style, any
level but just acoustic. First Tuesday of the
month at 7:45pm except January.
• Quiz Night - Every Sunday 8pm to 9:30pm
(please call to book). £1 per person, winning
team takes the money.
• Classic Car and Bike Breakfast Meet: Every
second Sunday of the month in the car park
and gardens from April to October, 9:30am
to 11:30am. Bacon rolls, tea, coffee etc..
• Autojumble: Starting 15 April 2018 and every
third Sunday of the month to October in the
garden (subject to weather and demand)
We’re all aware of the stranglehold tenants suffer
on tied contracts, paying well over the wholesale
price for drinks and the disproportionate
rents solicited. But if tenants can survive these
impositions and turn a small profit, it proves the
business model has merit. Having proved it works,
then look for a freehold and enjoy! It’s a great
Mine’s A Pint
Pub of the Year
WHAT IS IT?
Every year, the Reading & Mid Berkshire CAMRA
branch awards its Pub of the Year (PotY) title to
the pub voted for by branch members. It’s the
most prestigious prize we can bestow and the
more people voting, the better.
Our winner plays off against the other three
Berkshire branches in order to decide who is
Berkshire PotY. It can then proceed through a
number of larger inter-regional rounds and, if it’s
judged best in class all the way through, end up as
the National Pub of the Year. In 2017, the Nags
Head made it through to the last 16 nationally!
After much deliberation in our October branch
meeting, the 2018 Pub of the Year six finalists are:
Bell, Waltham St. Lawrence
Bell & Bottle, Shinfield
Castle Tap, Reading
Fox & Hounds, Caversham
Nags Head, Reading
CAN I JOIN IN?
Yes! If you’re a member of CAMRA or an
affiliated organisation (e.g. Reading University
Real Ale Society). A form will be circulated to take
to the nominated pubs, score, and return (and
online form will also be available). We only insist
on two things:
• That all listed pubs are visited
• That you score fairly and honestly
HOW AND WHEN CAN I VOTE?
Voting is now open and runs until 28th February
2018 – that’s three months to visit six of our finest
pubs! How about planning some weekend trips?
We like as many people as possible to vote, so
we’re giving you a lot more time in which to
complete your surveys and have also tried to make
it as simple as possible to vote.
THERE ARE TWO WAYS TO VOTE:
• Via the normal paper PoTY 2018 Form
which should can be obtained from (and
returned to) email@example.com
• Via our online form link at www.bit.ly/
• If you decide to vote via our online form
you can submit more than one form per
pub as the scores will be condensed after the
deadline has passed.
You must be a CAMRA member, and need to visit
and score every pub for your votes to count.
You are welcome to score any of the pubs
more than once – particularly if you ratings are
significantly different on different visits. Multiple
votes will be compressed to form an average once
the voting has closed.
Mine’s A Pint
We’re on the Trail Again
Since its start in 2002, our Real Ale Trail has
showcased over a hundred pubs from within our
branch, and a few from just outside. We have been
told by our regional and national contacts, that
it is the most successful CAMRA Ale Trail in the
The number of pubs per trail has varied from
twelve in 2004 to 28 in the 2010 to 2012 period.
At its height, we printed 2,000 leaflets and had
seven to eight hundred of them returned for their
prizes. Of course, the most popular prize was
when completing the trail guaranteed you free
priority entry to the Beer & Cider Festival. Since
the festival regularly went to capacity and operated
a one-in-one-out policy, it was a very popular
benefit. We even had a group of beer-lovers travel
up from Wales to complete enough pubs to qualify
so that when they came to the festival, they were
guaranteed quick entry.
The original objective of the trail was to promote
the festival. In the first year you only had to visit
five of the fifteen pubs to get a free ticket to the
festival, drinking a pint – not a half – in each.
Ten pubs gave you a ticket, plus a glass and beer
tokens; while all fifteen gave you a weekend pass,
beer glass, and beer tokens! In 2003 the number
of pubs increased to eighteen, but with similar
After many years of debate about the policy and
the practicalities of advance tickets, the festival
succeeded in engaging a suitable system, and the
unique benefit of completing the trail disappeared.
As was to be expected, the numbers completing
the trail dropped substantially, but it was so
well established in many people’s calendar, that
it continued to flourish. It was, after all, still a
good way of publicising the festival. It was also
recognised as a good way to encourage people
to visit pubs they might not otherwise go to, and
it does, of course, raise awareness of the need
to support pubs along with CAMRA’s other
Mine’s A Pint
Organising the trail does take a considerable
amount of volunteers’ time and CAMRA’s money.
The printing of the leaflets and the coloured
stickers costs us nearly £500. The cost of the beer
tokens and t-shirts runs up a four-figure bill. We
have the draw prizes sponsored, but no income
other than where the deposit on leaflets goes
Now it’s onwards! The plans for the 2018 trail are
well underway. The format will be the same as last
year, though, after a couple of successful years of
including one pub just across our branch border,
we plan to up it to two. As always we will include
around a third to a half of pubs that weren’t on
the previous trail and a few that have never been
on the trail. Which pubs are in – well you’ll have
to wait and see. Check out our Facebook page -
Reading Ale Trail - and for more information
about the trail, the rules, and the reasons, go to
the branch webpage - www.readingcamra.org.uk/
aletrail There’s much to be done before it starts on
Saturday 10th February. So put that date in your
diary and be ready to hit the trail.
A SARDINIAN BREWING
Last summer at XT we brewed
a Belgian Wit Beer, the ‘Animal
Donkey’, with innovative and eccentric Italian
Brewery BBBirra from Bosa. The beer was made
with wheat and loads of potent Sardinian orange
zest brought over by our brewing friend Carl
This year I headed out to the idyllic Sardinian
coastal town of Bosa to join Carl again and get
our brewing heads together for round two of our
international collaboration. Carl runs his brewery
and farm in the medieval town of Bosa on the
banks of the river Temo in NW Sardinia. The
two ventures are built on solid environmental and
sustainable principles close to Carl’s heart. The
farm grows all the barley, wheat and hops for the
beers, and his well provides all the brewing liquor;
the yeast even comes from the local wine producers.
Both ancient and contemporary varieties of grains
are grown to ensure a diverse culture on the farm
and remove the need for chemical assistance.
The by-products of brewing are fed to the farm
animals. Unusual these days – even the used beer
bottles are returned by Carl’s drinkers and refilled.
The locals are so used to this now; he doesn’t
even need to charge a deposit! The whole process
from field to glass takes place all within walking
distance of the farm. The first beer we worked
on in the four storey brewery, tucked away in the
narrow, winding streets of old town Bosa, was
based on an Italian speciality – “Doppio Malto.”
This very high gravity beer is made with a unique
double mashing process. The super-strong wort
is then munched away by yeast which had been
cropped from actively fermenting Malvasia wine.
To balance the massively chewy malt flavours,
high alpha hops are added for a citrus bite.
If the beers travel further than Bosa, Carl takes
them in his mobile pub – an amazing converted
German fire engine. With hand pumps, a bar, and
a bespoke chilled cellar; the beers are enjoyed in
perfect condition while drinkers rest on old wine
barrels. One day, between brews, we collected an
old oak foeder from an ancient and crumbling
wine cellar. The cellar tucked away in a tiny
narrow street was an Aladdin’s cave of fantastic
old wine casks, resting unused for many years, I
wish I could have brought one home for a bit of
BY RUSSELL TAYLOR OF THE XT BREWING CO
Mine’s A Pint
whacky fermentation of my own. As a balance to
the Doppio, we turned our attention to a beverage
made from the oldest strain of grain grown by man
– Einkorn wheat which was originally cultivated
in ancient Egypt. It’s a tough little grain and takes
a lot to get it to give up its sugars for brewing. To
help the process, our grist needed to be blended
with some contemporary malted wheat.
The flavours of this hazy, refreshing “Pharaoh’s
Ale” perfectly matched the heat of the Sardinian
sun. Sardinia has a hot, Mediterranean climate
and the beer culture has grown accordingly – with
the locals and visitors
preferring lighter and
fruity beers, softer
IPAs, wheat beers
and lagers. The craft
beer craze has swept
across the whole of
Italy, and now even
Sardinia has over two
dozen local breweries.
The beer market is
still dominated by
Ichnusa – a classic Euro fizz lager. As with many
similar brands, this brewer is now a part of the
giant Heineken, but a raft of small independent
producers are making many inroads.
My pick of these new kids on the island include:
Marduk from Orosei on the east coast – this is
one of the more commercial of the independent
producers, and their beers include American style
IPAs, Czech Lagers, and a Munich Alt Bier. But
as with BBBirra they also follow a sustainability
field to grain principle and have their own farm
and maltings. Birrificio Cagliari, based in the
capital, produce an extensive range of styles –and
all packaged in beautiful bottles with very stylish
labels. Worth it just to enjoy the Italian designer
look. Birra Lara from Tertenia on the southeastern
coast is a very modern brewery creating beers
using barley grown on their own farm. The owners
enthusiastically support the traceability of their
ingredients throughout the process. Sambrinus
from Sassari in the north is the oldest craft brewer,
operating since 1999. Beers follow a more classical
style of traditional brews.
Birrificio 4 Mori based in the southwestern town
of Guspini, the brewery is housed in old mine
workings and uses an excellent numbering system
for their beers. Most of the beers are available
in bottles – generally I found these to be bottle
conditioned, the locals expect ‘craft’ to be cloudy
and preferably with lots of foam. Finding the beers
on draught was a little tricky, but when you do
find them, they are often ‘keg conditioned’ in keykeg
or other bag type disposable systems. Many of
the beers I tried were unfiltered and unpasteurised.
In order to enjoy a really good range look out for
one of the many beer festivals around the island.
These tend to be laid out in the ‘market street’
style where you can meet and talk to the brewery
teams on their own stalls.
It was a pleasure to work with Carl again this year,
and get an insight into beer and brewing in Italy.
Travelling for beer – what could be better?
A GOLDEN WONDER
FRESH MIX OF HOPS FOR A DELICIOUS ALE
RICH RUBY ALE
SMOOTH AND MALTY WITH A FULL BODY
Mine’s A Pint
Anyone of a certain age will remember local pubs
bearing the red hop leaf trademark which adorned
every other pub around Reading in the 1950’s
and which seemed to die out immediately after
takeover by Courage in 1960 when the golden
cockerel on a red background became ubiquitous
everywhere in the Thames Valley.
THE RED HOP LEAF OF SIMONDS
William Blackall Simonds was the
son of a yeoman farmer from the
Arborfield / Wokingham area who
started to develop the malting and
brewing interests of his father and
when he died in 1782 left the business
to his son WB Simonds together with
a legacy from grandfather of £1000.
At this time he was about to marry the daughter
of Thomas May, a brewer from Basingstoke who
gave a dowry of £2000 and this set the young
man on the course to develop the most modern
brewery possible in the early part of the industrial
He acquired a site in Bridge Street, Reading (next
to the Kennet and Avon Canal, which would be
used to bring in raw materials and take out the
finished product) and arranged for his friend Sir
John Soane who had just finished the designs
for The Bank of England to create a magnificent
Georgian edifice. It would be the centre of brewing
in Reading for the next 185 years and gave the
town its reputation for producing the “3B’s”, Beer,
Bulbs and Biscuits (Simonds, Suttons and Huntley
& Palmers) respectively.
SIMONDS BREWERY CANALSIDE
WB Simonds son,
over in 1815 in
with the ending
of the Napoleonic
wars at a time of a
slump but the
company weathered these difficult times and by
1839 were producing 15,000 barrels per annum.
In 1834 they started to brew a beer specifically
for export, Pale Ale which would be sent to all
corners of the world and particularly to the army
as the brewery created ties with the military which
A very local brewer
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would see their beers being drunk in Sandhurst by
officers, Aldershot by soldiers and all points east
in the burgeoning empire. A branch of the business
was set up in Malta (still in existence but no longer
connected in any way), Gibraltar, as well as where
large army garrisons were based.
Growth was rapid throughout the 19th Century
and by 1871 output was at 58,000 barrels and
this doubled in the next 25 years. The brewery
had seen the advantages early on of rail travel and
as well as sending their beers across the country
by rail also created refreshment rooms from Kent
to Devon on principal stations, all selling Simonds
By 1914 the brewery was producing 200,000
barrels pa and had become a significant player
in the country but it was in the post war period
that Simonds went on the expansion trail, buying
up 11 breweries between 1919 and 1939. These
breweries included the South Berks Brewery,
Newbury in 1920, Ashbys of Staines in 1930 and
Adnams of Newbury in 1936. It was a branch of
the latter family that had moved to Southwold
to take on the Sole Bay Brewery in 1870 and
which still bears their name today. Just before the
outbreak of war Simonds was producing well over
a quarter of a million barrels of beer per annum.
As soon as the Second World War was over
it continued its expansion with Bowlys of
Swindon in 1945 and ironically John May &
Co of Basingstoke in 1947. It was the dowry
from an earlier generation that had allowed WB
Simonds to build the Bridge Street Brewery. Other
breweries were bought up and by the mid 1950’s
it had 1200 pubs and was producing over 1%
of all beer consumed in the UK. This made the
brewery ripe for takeover and in 1959 the brewery
entered into a short lived trading agreement with
Courage, Barclay Perkins however by 1960 this
had developed into full blown takeover.
Brewing continued in Bridge Street until 1979
when production moved to Worton Grange and
by 1983 the brewery had been demolished and
the site was ripe for development. It is ironic that
whereas the Bridge Street site had brewed for
almost two centuries the latter brewed for a mere
30 years before it was closed.
A Time of Giving
“It’s not yet Christmas!” I hear you cry, (or just
after, depending on when you’re reading this)
“The Beer Festival is months away!” Well, yes, it’s
still a few months off, but behind the scenes, work
for the 2018 festival started back in June.
The Reading CAMRA Beer & Cider festival is the
biggest event in our branch calendar, attracting
thousands of customers, and taking hundreds of
volunteers to put together.
As well as general volunteer roles during setup and
open hours - which will be available for sign-up
nearer the time, and do please consider it, because
it’s very rare that we have enough volunteer staff,
we still have some managerial and deputy roles to
Bar, and particularly, Deputy Bar Managers;
Deputy Concessions Manager; Finance Deputy;
Products and Membership Manager; Traffic
Management - to control and supervise the many
many vehicle movements during the setup and
If you think that you’d suit any of these roles, or
you’d like more information, please drop a line to
With 15 “Reading’s” under my belt I can honestly
say that it isn’t all a walk in the park, but it is
immensely rewarding, and we need people with
passion, enthusiasm, and commitment. One of
those people might be you.
If volunteering isn’t for you, or you’re just too
committed a customer, then there are other ways
that you can help - Who do you work for? Would
they be interested in sponsorship or advertising?
Do you visit a pub just outside our branch border
who might not be on our radar to ask?
Sponsorship is vital to the viability of the festival.
In order to build a functioning festival from an
empty field safely, and without any damage to the
grounds, we have huge infrastructure costs for
the temporary roadway, fencing, stillage, lighting
- and all this before we buy any beer.
It’s a fantastic and much loved event, but it does
cost to put on. Sponsorship is a great way for local
businesses to advertise with us, our footfall is
thousands. We have options to suit every budget,
again, drop an email to Contact@readingcamra.
org.uk and we’ll put you in touch with the right
Mine’s A Pint
Reading Beer & Cider Festival
1PM THURSDAY 3RD MAY 2018
In the six years that we, (Scott & I), have been
running the event it has evolved into a showcase
where 30+ producers (beer, cider, perry, mead,
wine & support services) will present their
products to members of the licensed trade. In fact
with an established attendance of over 550 people;
I believe that the Trade Session at Reading is one
of the largest in the country.
This year we would like to welcome John Newick
& Alex Taylor to the team, may they realise the
workload they have taken on!
If you are running a licensed premise, (pub, club,
hotel, social club, theatre), or you are a retailer, or
maybe a newsagent and would like to attend the
Trade Session, then please drop an e-mail to
firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will
include you in our guest list.
Should you happen to be a producer, and are
within 70 miles of RG1 8BN and wish to display
your product to members of the licensed trade,
then please contact us, and we will try to fit you
into the event.
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GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
In the early 1700s the
Morland family in West
Ilsey, Berkshire were
at Hodcott Farm
and over succeeding
generations the business
prospered and grew.
In 1854 the business
passed to a cousin
Edward Henry Morland
who purchased the
Brewery in Abingdon in
1861 in order to expand
operations. This was
the site for the next 140 years of brewing until its
closure following the Greene King takeover.
the company as he had studied brewing abroad and
had a very astute business brain. Over the course
of the next 50 years he oversaw rapid expansion
as well as creating a number of subsidiaries such
as malt extract production, soft drinks and built a
new brewhouse for the business.
THE BREWHOUSE IN 1912
Prior to Edward Henry Morland taking on the
business, in the late 18th century, Susannah
Morland, a daughter of the family was married off
to John Spenlove, the owner of the Abbey Brewery
in Abingdon. This business also flourished with
Abingdon being a centre for malting and brewing
and as part of the marriage settlement, a sum
of £5000 (almost £¾ million in modern terms)
was given which enabled rapid expansion and it
started to produce a strong porter.
In 1866, on the death of Susannah’s spinster
daughter, the brewing operation passed to Edward
Henry Morland who by 1887 had combined the
businesses as well as taking over the Ilsey Brewery
to create United Breweries and in the same year he
closed West Ilsey to centre everything in Abingdon.
Edward Henry died the following year and having
no direct descendents the breweries passed to a
nephew Edward Morland, whose father was a
solicitor in the town.
The young Edward followed his uncle’s philosophy
of expansion and in the same year took over Saxbys
of Abingdon and the following year Field and Sons
of Shillingford was absorbed along with their tied
houses and the brewing operation closed down. As
the business grew it was necessary to seek outside
expertise and Thomas Skurray was invited to join
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The inter war years saw the takeover of many
local breweries with the Wantage Brewery in
1920 then in 1927 J Dymore-Brown and Sons and
Ferguson’s, both of Reading, and Hewett and Co
of Shurlock Row, near Reading, were all purchased
and closed down, the trade being supplied from
the main brewery in Abingdon. The former
Dymore-Brown site was then used as a depot to
supply the large number of tied pubs in South
Berkshire which had been aquired with with these
purchases.The company had doubled its pubs and
production had grown similarly making Morlands
a significant regional brewer and it consolidated
its position in Abingdon by purchasing The Tower
Steam Brewery and in 1928Wantage’s Lewis Rock
In 1944, Morland became a public company and
all the other company names with the exception
of Fergusons were withdrawn. At the same time,
a new trademark was introduced. It showed a
man in a red frock coat and tricorn hat, holding
an artist’s palette in one hand and admiring a glass
of beer held in the other hand. It is this symbol
(shown above) which is still visible on many of
the former pubs in our area. The drawing is a
depiction of the artist George Morland (1763-
1804), a relative of the original Morland brewing
family, who became famous for his landscape and
rustic agricultural scenes.
By the mid-1950s, the Company had an estate
consisting of approximately three hundred tied
houses, all within a 40 mile radius of Abingdon.
This trading area extended from Bicester in the
north to Basingstoke in the south; in the east a
line from Windsor up through Princes Risborough
and westwards to Lechlade. In 1956 Whitbread
purchased a large block of shares (39%) and
whilst this may have been seen as a predatory
approach it proved useful to both companies as
Abingdon was an ideal training ground for many
young brewers who would go on to other parts of
the Whitbread empire and for Morlands it could
call on the technical expertise of the much larger
The businesses co-existed for the next 25 years
quite happily and in 1979 Morlands launched its
most iconic beer of Old Speckled Hen to celebrate
50 years of MG car production in its home town
of Abingdon. It was an immediate success and the
high gravity strong bitter was then produced in
cask form to much acclaim. The demand for this
beer became so great that additional brewhouse
capacity was required, with the result that the
decision was taken to withdraw from lager
production in order to make additional capacity
available for brewing Old Speckled Hen.
The business was continuing to grow. Changes
in the industry meant that public houses were
coming on to the market in large numbers. During
the 1990s more than two hundred were acquired
from other brewers. Most of these were in areas
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adjoining the original Morland distribution
territory which now extended to the south coast
and eastwards into the Greater London area, with
a further group in Kent. As a result, there had
to be further reorganistion and expansion of the
This expansion did not go unnoticed and in
1992 Greene King bought a large block of the
Whitbread shares on the understanding that the
rest would also be sold if they could acquire a
controlling interest. This hostile approach was
fended off following a local outcry but in its bid
to become too big a target, Morlands bought
Ruddles of Oakham with its brands of Ruddles
Best and Ruddles County and moved production
Partly due to mismanagement and cash flow
problems the business became a suitable target
again for Greene King and in 1999 they purchased
sufficient shares to gain control and they took
over the whole Morland business, including the
beer brands. The great market success enjoyed by
‘Old Speckled Hen’ was an important part of the
attraction. Production in Abingdon ceased almost
immediately with the brewery site being sold for
housing and all beers were now produced in Bury
St Edmunds ending over 250 years of brewing
heritage in this part of Berkshire (Oxfordshire
after the 1974 Local Government changes).
I am indebted to Bill Mellor, former Head Brewer
at Morlands for the majority of this article with
additional material from Britains Lost Breweries
by Chris Arnott and The Berkshire Pub Guide
Our branch Gala Presentation Evening was held
on on Thursday 21 st September at the Bell &
Presentations were made to various award winners
• The breweries of the winners of the local
beers of the Reading Beer & Cider Festival
• The finalists in the branch Club of the Year
• The winners of the branch Pub of the Year,
Cider Pub of the Year and Club of the Year
• Those who the branch consider have made
an outstanding contribution to supporting
the aims and objectives of CAMRA
In addition we were pleased to host the award to
the Regional Pub of the Year and the Regional
Cider Pub of the Year.
Nag’s Head - Berkshire POTY Winner
Nag’s Head - Regional CPOTY winner
Nag’s Head - Regional POTY winner
PUBS OF THE YEAR
Nag’s Head - POTY winner
Fox & Hounds, Caversham -POTY runner-up
Greyfriar -POTY finalist
Alehouse - POTY finalist
Bell & Bottle - POTY finalist
Eldon Arms - POTY finalist
Nag’s Head - Cider POTY winner
Bell, Waltham St Lawrence - Cider POTY runnerup
CLUB OF THE YEAR
Wargrave Snooker Club
LOCAL BEERS OF THE
Loose Cannon, Abingdon Gold - Overall Gold
XT, XT13 - Overall Silver
Twickenham Fine Ales, Wolf of the Woods -
Siren Craft, YuLu - Beers under 4.2%
Twickenham Fine Ales - Beers between 4.2% &
Ascot Ales, Anastasia Exile Stout - Beers 5.0% and
STEVE STANTON RECEIVES HIS
AWARD FOR REFURBISHMENT OF
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The medieval City of Norwich hosts the Great
British Beer Festival Winter 2018. From popular
light ales to ruby and dark ales, foreign beers,
ciders and perry, all served in magnificent medieval
friary halls in the heart of Norwich, where pubs
also host The Fringe, with special events 1st-24th
The festival offers all this plus fantastic street food
and an exciting array of entertainment. Tickets for
the Great British Beer Festival Winter are available
now, but do note – we only have limited advanced
But not to worry! If you miss out on our advanced
tickets you can still get in on the door!
• 20th February 17:30–22:30 (CAMRA
Members Preview only)
• 21st February 12:00 – 22:30
• 22nd February 12:00 – 22:30
• 23rd February 12:00 – 22:30
• 24th February 12:00 – 22:30
Last Admission: half hour before close. No passouts
will be allowed.
Mine’s A Pint
You Need Your Glasses!
There can be no referee in the land that has not
had this insult thrown at them but glasses in the
pub trade are a very serious business and I am sure
we all have our favourites. When you enter a pub
and ask for a pint in the UK you receive 20oz or
568 ml. The size of a pint glass is just the right size
to slake the thirst and not require a too frequent
return to the bar but it is still a manageable size.
One only has to think of huge German steins
holding at least a litre to realise how ideal a pint
Glass is an ideal material for a drinking vessel as
it is inert and introduces no “off flavours” to a
beer unlike earlier vessels such as leather jacks or
pewter tankards. All pub glasses will be marked
with a crown to indicate a guarantee of capacity
and this has been the case for over 300 years.
Since 2007 pint glasses have been produced with
a CE mark, which shows the glass conforms to
European law. A popular alternative to the CE to
brim pint glass is the LCE pint glass, which is an
oversized glass which is lined and CE marked at
a pint, allowing extra room for a head. It is this
style favoured by CAMRA as it allows a full pint
with a head.
The archetypal beer glass must
be the dimple jug but it was
fairly late on the scene being
introduced in the 1930’s and
when the Ravenhead Glass
factory in St Helens closed in
2001 the last manufacturer was
gone. The dimple glass then went
out of fashion however there
has been a recent revival in fortunes although all
new glasses are now imported from places as far
away as Turkey. They were not loved by publicans
as they did not stack easily, took up more space
in the glass washer and could cost up to three
times as much as a straight glass. In a number
of fashionable pubs and bars however they have
made a comeback as people say the handle stops
body heat warming the beer although there is a
counter argument that the wide mouth causes a
loss of aroma.
10 SIDED MUG
The predecessor of the dimple glass,
this was introduced in 1928 and was
viewed as a more substantial glass
than the common conical. It quickly
fell out of favour to the dimple when
it became available.
One of the earliest
designs for a beer glass and
popular in the early part of
the 20th century but it had the
disadvantage of having the rim
easily chipped when glasses rubbed
up against one another although in
design terms it is still a favourite
drinking vessel and the style found
at most beer festivals.
NONIC (OR NONIK)
The answer for publicans who
were having to replace chipped or
“nicked” glasses was the nonic.
The bulge about 1/3 of the way
down ensured that the rims did
not touch and hence the name,
short for no-nick. It was invented
by Hugo Pick of Albert Pick & Co
of Chicago, Illinois as long ago
as 1914 and had a 40% greater
strength than a conical glass, reducing breakages,
ensuring it was easy to hold and facilitating easy
cleaning. It was introduced to the UK in 1948 by
Ravenhead and is a firm favourite amongst the
licensed trade as it is cheap to replace when it does
eventually require it.
The Tulip is a more modern glass having
a taller shape, usually flaring out towards
the top; these designs are more commonly
associated with promotional campaigns
by breweries, and are frequently etched or
marked with the beer’s label.
Mine’s A Pint
STEMMED (OR GOBLET)
The stemmed glass is often seen as
something of a connoisseurs choice
as it allows a beer to be swirled
around (providing it has not been
over-filled), releasing the aromas.
It is not often found in the licensed
trade as it is significantly more
GLASSES FROM FARTHER
If this article was being written for
Belgium it would have about 50
chapters as each beer has its own
distinctive glass with a myriad
of shapes and styles. They have
the most impractical glass of all
with that for Kwak (shown to the
left) being unable to rest on a flat
surface as it has a bulbous rounded
bottom. Each of the Trappist Breweries has an
individual style of their own to highlight their
Germany, like Belgium has a proliferation of
glasses for each individual beer and style. A kolsch
from Cologne would not be served in a glass for
pilsner and likewise a bock or doppelbock from
Hanover would not be served from a Berliner
weissbier glass. This is also the home of the highly
decorated ceramic beer stein with a metal top but
these are more often bought as tourist souvenirs
rather than used as serious drinking vessels.
To sum up, we may look upon glasses as fairly
utilitarian articles but where would we be without
them and woe betide the person who uses someone
else’s favourite glass without realising it, wars
have been fought over less.
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YOU SPEND £15 OR MORE AT
THE BINGHAMS BREWERY SHOP
VALID UNTIL 31/12/17
T&Cs: Valid for £1 off any £15 purchase in the Brewery Shop. Not valid for home deliveries, online purchases, gift vouchers or in conjunction
with any other offer or voucher. No cash value. Void if copied or transferred. You must be 18+ to purchase alchohol
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Join up, join in,
join the campaign
as little as
a year. That’s less
than a pint a
why we joined.
Join us, and together we can protect the traditions of great
British pubs and everything that goes with them.
Become part of the CAMRA community today – enjoy
discounted entry to beer festivals and exclusive member
offers. Learn about brewing and beer and join like-minded
people supporting our campaigns to save pubs, clubs,
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