By way of Ramsgate
This is such a personal blog entry, kind of going beyond the norm for me, a tale of a long winding road, paths crossed and beer drunk.
A long time ago, my parents bought a pub, such was the draw to such a life. I grew up, kind of, in that pub. During the 21 years the pub was in the family I went away to university where I was supposed to be studying. What? I am not sure, but I know I knew more about beer, wine and fermentation when I left than my undergrad selections supposed. Near the end of my long academic life, I returned to run the family pub, at the behest of my mother. Over the following 6 years, bringing ideas of what I had seen from “up north” down to the land that time forgot, the Romney Marsh I started to focus on Real Ale, something that I had always had a taste for since, well, you know. I could remember my father selling Friary Meux, Benskins, Burton Bridge, IndCoope Burton, Viking Brewery and I think Crouch Vale too. So, we had a heritage of selling cask/real ale. Why aren’t we still? So, trawling through wholesale catalogues, left me shivering from too much GK. I gratefully stumbled across a local company who specialised in selling Real Ale. I brought in to the demands of an ever growing clientèle of ale drinkers, brews like Tim Taylors, Oakham, Crouch Vale, Freeminer, RCH… drawing all and sundry from further and further away! There’s something in this, me thinks. So, when wandering around a bookstore I picked up a copy of the new CAMRA Good Beer Guide, I can’t remember the year… but I think we were still in the 19’s. I flicked through to Kent, noticing that there was a little box highlighting Kent Microbreweries; as well as looking at East Sussex, such was our proximity to the “border”.
This little box was thumbed through, lists made, I became something of a reluctant scooper. I am sure, meeting some of the faces of scooping now, I remember them from the pub. I digress, I started buying beers from all these micro’s both Kentish and East Sussex. One brewery had really only just started getting it’s wheels in motion, that of Gadd’s. At that time it was brewing in a Belgian Beer Bar, on Ramsgate harbour front. Very cool place it was at the time. I also picked up beers from HopDaemon, Goachers, the then Flagship brewery, a one time brewery called Old Kent Brewing Co, Swale… there were so many coming and going it made your head spin.
So, a while went by, we were still selling Hopdaemon, a Sussex brewery that had a real following in our place called Pett Brewery and whatever I could get from further afield. 4 hand pumps went to 8, plus little beerfests on occasion. We even sold imported Belgian beers on Handpump, DeKonninck from memory. That same weekend, I met one of the chaps from Pubsandbeer.co.uk – before it’s inception I hasten to add. Before this I started venturing to Belgium and France, sans guides, wandering around flanders on my days off, as rare as they were.
These little festivals we were doing, 8-12 casks, when they’re gone they’re gone sort of thing, gave us oportunity to try out different beers that might not fit our normal “portfolio”. One such beer was a brew called Brown Pig from Eddie Gadd. This time it was fermented with a Belgian Yeast, and my god it was the tastiest thing going. I dutifuly sampled, sampled some more, and just for quality’s sake, sampled some more. I dutifuly reported back to Eddie… to… ” I am not making that damn thing again, cost me more in finings than I made on it, I had to fine it twice!” or some such thing… This was a sign of great things to come. All of a sudden we had a brewer that was willing to throw things in the wind, see where they land and make the best of it.
My family has since sold the pub, I moved on with my life – but all along encouraged by Eddie to get out there and do something. I kept travelling, reading, brewing, learning… and found this challenge. So, it’s fun how it all comes around again. I am so pleased to be able to present this brewery on beermerchants.com, making it available to all around the island, not just thanet!
We are blessed in Kent with a limited number of breweries, but all are doing something different, you know what you’re going to get from them, as such over the years abridged with a move to Pysons Road Industrial Estate*, Eddie has developed a range of excellent drinking ales, from the pale blond No.7 at 3.7%, thru No.5 an excellent example of a British Best Bitter at 4.4% and the big booted No.3, a big English styled pale ale. There are extras on his “everyday” range, that of Seasider, an amber bitter, and the excellent and highly sought after DogBolter.
Eddie also has his “winter brews”, the ones that he gets to play with. Recently we have seen whiskey barrel aged porters, wine barrel aged barley wine, dry hopped barley wines… and even to the extent of bringing my silly ideas to the fore, getting me back in the brewery!?! Guess what… you can get them all at Beermerchants.com
Eddie and the growing team at Ramsgate Brewery have gone on to win good awards notably the Produced in Kent, best beer in Kent! This was over some heavy weight competition from up the other end of the Thanet Way. Yay!
I will add tasting notes as soon as I am back at my desk, so much to say that the Reserved is getting great plaudits and I think it would hold up well against many a bigger named brewery’s effort.