Oakham Ales at Theberton Lion Beer Club

Back in October (it's been a busy few months!) the Theberton Lion Beer Club* was visited by Oakham Ales, in particular by two Oakham Area Sales Managers - Matt Purling and Will Fry. It has to be said that their presentation was undoubtedly the slickest yet seen at the Beer Club, so it is a real shame that a camera fault meant I lost all of my photos!

The evening started off with a powerpoint presentation on the history of beer, and its four basic ingredients. For the most part, this was familiar territory to anyone who has done a brewery tour, or read any of the many books on beer and brewing. Soon enough though the presentation moved on to the Oakham Ales brewery.

Oakham Ales was founded in the town of Oakham, Rutland in 1993 by John Ward. Just two years later though Ward sold the brewery to Paul Hook, who moved the brewery to Peterborough in 1998 and upgraded from a 10 barrel to a 35 barrel plant. In 2006 a new 75 barrel plant was installed, with the old plant being moved to the Brewery Tap. The following year the old kit was sold to Suffolk brewery Green Jack, while another Suffolk based company, Industrial Techniques, designed and installed a new 6 barrel kit at the Tap.

These were the beers we drank - thanks to Tom for the photos.
Jeffrey Hudson Bitter was the first beer brewed by Oakham and has won many awards, including Champion Beer of Britain at the 2001 Great British Beer Festival. JHB is a beer that is seen around quite often, and I have wondered who Jeffery Hudson was; of course we were told all about him. Apparently he was known as the Queen's Dwarf - the Queen in question being Henrietta Maria of France. Hudson was just 18" tall, and was baptised in Oakham; hence the naming of the beer. 

Fittingly JHB was also the first beer we drank this evening. Unfortunately, my tasting notes fell victim to my camera malfunction so I can't tell you much about it, or the other beers we sampled. What I can say though, is that the Elephant in the Whirlpool was absolutely outstanding. This is the first beer to have been brewed using Oakham's newly installed whirlpool for hop additions, and it showcases intense citrus hop flavours. 

As we were drinking the beers, we also learnt about Oakham's current size and output. With the capacity to brew up to 10 times a week, Oakham brews just under ten million pints each year. To put this into an East Anglian context it is about 1/3 the size of Adnams, and 1/3 more than Woodfordes.

The presentation ended with a beery quiz, in which I managed a not entirely disreputable third place, and just missed out on the prizes of Oakham merch. However, I was pleased to accept the offer of a drink at the bar, which was made to all Beer Club members on the night.

* The Theberton Lion holds its Beer Club on the first Monday of the month, unless that is a bank holiday, starting at 8.30. For £5 you get samples of five different beers, usually around 1/3 of a pint. Sometimes the beers come from one brewery, in which case there is sometimes a representative from the brewery. On other occasions they are sourced by Tom from different breweries. We score the beers, and Tom uses these scores to consider which beers he might get into the pub.


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