News Updates » Real Ale Nicky Godding News Site Fri, 25 Apr 2014 16:37:09 +0000 en hourly 1 Ball and Chain wedding ale for Alex and Alice Fri, 11 Jan 2013 09:41:44 +0000 admin Continue reading ]]> Ball and Chain wedding ale for Alex and Alice

27-year old head brewer Alex Arkell has been keeping himself busy in the run up to his wedding later this month to long-time sweetheart Alice Braithwaite.

While Alice is kept frantically busy organising the wedding, which is taking place at her family home in Northumberland on 26 January, alongside running her successful Lechlade teashop, The Tea Chest, which opened last year, her groom Alex has been creating the perfect celebratory beer for the occasion at the Swindon brewery, which he’s named (with Alice’s approval) Ball and Chain Ale.

“It’s been a lot of fun creating a beer to mark the most impo

rtant day of our lives,” said Alex.

“I decided to brew a completely original recipe for Ball and Chain, using four different varieties of malt, the main ingredient in beer, to produce a distinct grist (milled malt) as its foundation with Celeia, Willamette and

Columbus hop varieties added at different points through the brewing process to give a rounded, well balanced floral finish to the beer which has a hearty ABV of 5%.”




Alex says that the ingredients of his traditional ale are the same as that of a successful marriage.   “Beer is brewed from malt, hops, water and yeast.

Most malts are made from barley, much of it good English barley and it’s the base of any real ale. Hops are the female flowers used primarily for flavouring and stability. The yeast is used for f

ermentation.   Marry them together and there you have it:  Malt and hops for content, stability and flavouring and yeast to rise to the occasion.

“I’m hoping that Ball and Chain will become fundamental to a truly contented married life for us both.”

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Would you Adam and Eve it? 2 million pints, not out Mon, 07 Jan 2013 11:12:48 +0000 admin Continue reading ]]> 80-year old Dot Gasson, probably Britain’s oldest working landlady, has finally decided to call last orders on a career spanning almost sixty years and well over two million pints pulled.

Diminutive Dot, who is barely 5’ tall, has presided over the bar at the Adam and Eve, Townsend Street, Cheltenham, for 35 years. She began working at the pub in 1977, the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, taking over as licensee a year later.  1977 was the also the year that Red Rum won his record third Grand National, Star Wars was released at the Cinema … and Dot married husband Brian.

The Adam and Eve is the local for many postal workers at the main Cheltenham sorting office, just around the corner and this Friday evening (14th December) many of them will be bringing a large celebration cake to the pub to wishing Dot and Brian a First Class retirement.

Dot was born at Beckford, Gloucestershire in 1932 and took over her first pub, The White Lion, in Winchcombe in 1958. “Back then it was a proper pub,” she says. “Now it’s a bit posh.”

A great grandmother, she has four children, two sons and a daughter live in Gloucestershire and another daughter lives in Cyprus, but she hasn’t had time for a holiday for 20 years.

James Arkell at pub owners Arkell’s Brewery, which bought the pub off Whitbread in 1991, presented her with a leaving gift and a bunch of flowers almost bigger than she is.   He said: “When we bought the pub we didn’t realise that the jewel in its crown was Dot.   Ever since she took over she’s been wonderful. The rest of the world has gone around and back but life hasn’t changed at The Adam and Eve. Dot has been a wonderful landlady and Arkell’s has been truly lucky to have her.”


When asked what her best memories of her life at the pub have been, Dot really can’t pick out one above the other. “It’s been a very happy pub,” she said. “I really can’t think of a time when it hasn’t been.”


Dot isn’t planning on sitting down when she finally pulls her last pint. “I’d like to do some charity work,” she said.



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Wiltshire Brewery Arkell’s adds to pub estate Tue, 07 Feb 2012 14:10:14 +0000 admin Continue reading ]]> Wiltshire Brewery Arkell’s is delighted to announce that it has acquired The Fox and Hounds at Haydon Wick in Swindon and The King’s Arms Hotel in Malmesbury, both purchased from Enterprise Inns.  The brewery paid market price for the pubs.

Brewery chairman, James Arkell, said: “These new purchases fit our strategy of continual investment in pubs and small town hotels which have a thriving community around them.”

The Fox and Hounds is a lovely country pub that first opened around 1840. No longer in the country, as Swindon’s western expansion began surrounding the village some 30 years’ ago, The Fox and Hounds retains a rural feel and is well-supported by the local community.

The King’s Arms is Arkell’s first acquisition in the historic town of Malmesbury. With twelve letting rooms, two bars, a restaurant and a function room for up to 120 people, this pretty hotel offers lovely overnight accommodation and a warm welcome.

According to James: “The licensed industry changes all the time, and breweries and pub companies must too.  We’ve always known this and adapt our estate of pubs accordingly, that’s why we’ve been in business for over 160 years, just like the majority of fellow family brewers across the country who understand the licensed trade better than anyone.   People want more from pubs than just a great pint of beer and someone to chat to – those are essential.   Good food is important for every licensed premises and a small country town hotel should be friendly and cosy with room for a good party.”

Over the last six years, Arkell’s has made a number of significant investments in pubs and hotels across the region.   In 2006 it bought The Bear Hotel in the centre of Wantage, significantly upgrading the bars and accommodation to make The Bear into a thriving town centre hotel.

In 2007 the brewery bought the 16th century 26-bedroom Lansdowne Strand Hotel in Calne, and the following year it purchased the iconic Riverside Inn at Lechlade, next to the most up-stream marina on the Thames and where, earlier this year, David Walliams began his incredible Thames charity swim.

In 2009 the brewery turned its attention back to pubs and bought The Mason’s Arms at Meysey Hampton. Earlier this year it bought a closed Oxford pub reopening it as The Rickety Press. The pub, located at Jericho, is once again thriving.

Alongside new investment, the brewery continually invests in its estate of pubs, with this year investing a six-figure sum in The Bull Hotel, Fairford, which the brewery has owned since 1973.


Pint-sized History of Arkell’s Brewery                 

At 168 years old, Arkell’s Brewery is one of just 28 family breweries left in the UK. The Brewery was established as an offshoot to the family farm when Isambard Kingdom Brunel was building his locomotive and carriage works for the Great Western Railway.  Beer from Arkell’s helped quench the thirst of workers in the hot, humid environment of the railway works.   Whilst Swindon’s historic railway works closed in the 1980s, Arkell’s is still going strong, fulfilling the demands of today’s workers.

Three generations of Arkell’s family work at the brewery every day, alongside generations of local families, brewing real ale and overseeing over 100 pubs the brewery owns across Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Hampshire.  Arkell’s continuously invests in its pubs and the brewery, recently installing bottling equipment, fermenters, conditioning equipment and a kegging unit to brew Pilsner lager.  Full-bodied real ales include 2Bs, 3Bs, Kingsdown and Bees Organic Ale.   Specials include Summer Ale, Noel Ale and Moonlight. Moonlight was brewed in secret in 2004 commemorating Chairman Peter Arkell’s 80th birthday and his RAF 1943 pilot missions flying low level sorties collecting agents in occupied France under full moon, later in Burma. Peter Arkell passed away in 2010.

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Rose & Crown’s new landlords bring home the bacon Tue, 07 Feb 2012 14:05:38 +0000 admin Continue reading ]]> Less than 24 hours after taking over the tenancy of The Rose & Crown at Lea near Malmesbury, Mark Green and Sarah Smith found themselves providing breakfast for 44 members of the church, next door to the pub.


However, it was a welcome introduction to village life for the couple who have two pre-school children.   “The first thing we unpacked was packets of bacon – almost before the children’s suitcases,” said Sarah.


Mark and Sarah are experienced publicans – they even met in pub and both sets of parents were publicans themselves. Most recently Mark and Sarah ran The White Hart at Broadoak in the Forest of Dean but decided to bring in a manager to run it after deciding to find a village pub where they can settle down and bring up their family.


“The church breakfast is a regular event, apparently, and it a great way to meet our new neighbours,” said Sarah. “The pub also hosts a Friday toddler group in the pub skittle alley so I can’t wait to meet some of the local mums and dads there too.”


The couple spent months looking for their perfect pub, but fell in love with The Rose & Crown after contacting Arkell’s who said that the previous tenants were moving to New Zealand.


“It’s got a lovely feel to it, a big pub garden and a little private one for our family too – we love it, even if we’ve moved in during the depths of winter,” added Mark.


George Arkell, director at Arkell’s Brewery, is delighted that such experienced landlords have taken on the pub.   “It’s great for the brewery and for the villagers and pub regulars,” he said. “Mark and Sarah understand the industry inside out and know how to deliver a really good night out.”


Mark is well aware that people have to have a good reason to come out in the current economic climate: “If you want people to come in, you have to give them a reason to do so.   We pay a lot of attention to the quality and value of our food, so we’ll have plenty of regular menu choices – but a specials board too, which will really mean special.”


In the meantime, the family are starting to find their way around the area.   “Malmesbury is lovely, and less than five minutes away, so we’ve enrolled the children in a nursery there twice a week.  Hopefully it won’t be long before we’ve built up a new network of friends,” added Sarah.


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More Cask Marque success for Arkell’s Landlords Mon, 19 Dec 2011 16:00:07 +0000 admin Continue reading ]]> Nearly half of Arkell’s landlords have now been awarded Cask Marque accreditation for serving the perfect pint of cask-conditioned ale.

And this week the brewery is celebrating their award with three more landlords: Dave Howells at The Boundary House and Pete and Bev Neal at The Moonrakers, both in Swindon and Terry Sullivan at The Punchbowl, Woodstock.

Backed by 45 of the country’s leading brewers and pub companies, Cask Marque accreditation is only awarded to licensees whose ale passes a series of rigorous independent beer quality audits.

Since its foundation in 1997, Cask Marque has inspected around 135,000 pints of beer and accredited over 6,000 of the country’s 36,500 pubs estimated to serve one or more cask conditioned ales.

Cask Marque director, Paul Nunny, said: “Arkell’s should feel justifiably proud of this excellent achievement, which not only recognises the commitment the brewery has made to serving the perfect pint but also acts as an independent guarantee of quality for customers.

“All too often publicans don’t appreciate the care and attention cask beers require and then run the risk of losing custom by serving pints that are below par.”

Alex Arkell, Brewer at Wiltshire family brewery, Arkell’s, said: “I started my working life at the sharp end: Running a pub where I was behind the bar every day.   It was there I learned the importance of having delicious-tasting, consistent beer – because if we didn’t deliver the perfect pint, we’d be on the receiving end of direct criticism – especially me as the son, grand-son and great-grand-son of brewers!

“Good beer starts in the brewery, and finishes as it’s pulled through the lines and into a beer glass.   At the brewery it’s our responsibility to ensure our beer leaves the brewery in absolutely top condition.  Then the responsibility is passed to our landlords who look after the beer properly from barrel to glass. When I began working in the brewery last year I felt that the best sign of beer quality in a pub was the Cask Marque sign which appears outside pubs guaranteeing that inside you will get a great pint of cask ale.”

Arkell’s is aiming for all its landlords to be Cask Marque accredited.

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