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Thursday, 5 June 2014

Amy Abroad: Wadworth Brewery

Amy's abroad and my first stop for is Wadworth Brewery.

Located in the heart of Devizes, the Wadworth Brewery is recognised for its history and heritage. They still delivery beer with shire horses and all their pub signs are handcrafted. In addition to the brew house, Wadworth operates over 240 managed pubs within an 80 mile radius - an area which gets nicknamed "Wadworthshire". I jumped onto a daily brew experience tour to get a 1st hand look at what makes this Wiltshire brewery unique.

The tour kicked off in the brewery's visitor centre. We learnt how Henry Alford Wadworth (the Great Great Uncle of the present chairman) purchased the Northgate Brewery in 1875. After 10 very busy years demand was so high that a new brew house was built across the street. Henry being an avid biker would peddle his penny farthing to the managed pubs everyday to check the quality of his beer! After 54 years as chairman Henry passed away aged 77. His legacy remains and some of his original recipes have barely changed over the years.

Next the tour took me into the Victorian Tower brewery and the main production area. Wadworth grow many of their own ingredients and the 2 row barley they use comes from East Anglia. However the hops they use come from countries across the world including New Zealand! On-site 1 - 2 batches of beer are brewed every Monday to Thursday. The fermentation room has 10 vessels and when the room is full it can hold 288,000 pints. To drink an entire vessel I would need to consume 80 pints a day for a year!

The day I visited the two working shire horses, Monty and Max, weren't at the brewery as they were attending the Royal Bath and West Show. However, when they are working they deliver up to two tons of beer at day to Wadworth Pubs within a 2 mile radius of the brewery.

The Wadworth sign shop was definitely the most unique feature of this visit. Here a team of three, Wayne Richards, Dave Young and Paul Martin uphold a very British tradition producing hand-painted pictorial signs for most of Wadworth's 240+ pubs. Each establishment has anywhere between 30 and 50 signs which include the large double-sided pubs signs seen from the road to small toilet or exit signs for patrons. The sign shop is a "no computer" zone so the process includes producing a rough draft design which is then sketched out, painted on lined timber and then varnished for protection. 23.5 carat gold leaf is used on the titles and names which guarantees the letters will never tarnish, even in the worst weather.

The Wadworth Brew Experience is definitely well worth a visit! The beer is tasty and the staff are very friendly. My picks out of the beers I tried are the Horizon which is a golden pale ale or the Corvus which is a smooth, roasty stout. You might just find me sipping on one at my local Wadworth watering hole, The Royal Oak.

Below are some pictures from my visit and I'll be uploading more soon to Facebook. If you want to know more about Wadworth then check out their website

Penny Farthing

Outside the brewery

Hand painted pub signs

Bottles of beer, including Lynn's favourite.