Due to some good luck at a charity auction, I found myself in possession of two tickets to a brewery tour at Binghams Brewery. It was either that or bid on a family portrait sitting – and that’s not a good idea. There’s a reason I stay out of photos. Within 2 minutes of shamelessly bragging about my win on Twitter, Mr. Affable replied unprompted that if I was looking for someone to go with, his arm could easily be twisted.
Binghams is a local brewery in Twyford, founded by Chris Bingham. Chris started out as a dedicated home brewer, who wanted to go pro, so he spent 5 years at Hogsback, learning the trade, before opening Binghams in 2010. We learnt all of this and much more from his business partner, Delia, who does the brewery tours. She describes herself as “That bloody whingey woman”, but she was particularly good at explaining how they make beer, while keeping it interesting. The three main things we learnt though were that she does like beer, doesn’t like Thames Water, and has made up her own names for everything in the brewery (the spinney thing, the squeaky thing, the electric bucket and the thingamajig).
As part of the tour, we got to sample 6 of the beers that Binghams are doing at the moment. Only halves of each, but as long as you got Dave pouring them, they were generous halves. Dave’s normally speed walking round the brewery, so he doesn’t have time for pouring exactly a half – although Delia seems to have mastered it, no matter what tricky angle you hold your glass to try and fool her.
The first beer was Twyford Tipple. That was a nice 3.7% session ale. Apparently their most popular, because if you are drinking in Twyford there is a fair chance you are driving somewhere and a lower alcohol beer allows you to do that legally. Unsurprisingly the beer tasted great, as it should when served in the brewery. A few others of note – Brickworks, a traditional malty bitter. Citra Kazbek, which had a lovely almost sherbet taste. Apparently they advertise that as a craft beer, simply to get in to the sort of pub which only buys craft beer. All of their beer could fairly be described as craft beer, but for marketing purposes it helps to stick it on there.
Another great beer was the Vanilla Stout – a sweet stout with a mild taste. It won CAMRA beer of the year in 2016. And has sold really badly every since apparently. Also Space Hoppy – my personal favourite. I nearly bought a Space Hoppy t-shirt, but on reflection decided I didn’t need to call attention to the fact that my body now resembles a space hopper a bit more than it used to. And lastly, Ricochet Oatmeal Pale, and unfined beer. Binghams have started a spin off brand, Ricochet, for unfined vegan beer. And they seemed to have nailed it – a lovely beer.
Mr. A and I weren’t the only people there – there was a large group in for the tour, and as always when you go out with Mr. A, he knew one of them. Someone he knew from 25 years ago. I have trouble remembering people I met last week, so I have no idea how he does it. It was more the merrier though, with a nice group of people all interested in learning more about the beer brewing.
The actual brewery building is, like many other breweries these days, a unit on an industrial estate. I didn’t even take a picture – it just wasn’t worth it. If Siren Craft looked like a screwfix carpark, from the outside Binghams looked like the cheap alternative next door. There’s a shop inside that is also best described as functional. You can get beer in bottles, 10L and 20L barrels, t-shirts, glasses, and also pork scratchings. It’s also home to what must be the last avocado coloured bathroom in the land – toilet, sink, wall tiles – all avocado. However, the lack of glamour gives a fascinating insight in to the true brewing process. It’s hard work, often not particularly profitable, and for all but the big industrial breweries, it’s done as a labour of love.
|Beer Quality||Every pint was in great shape|
|Beer Selection||We had 6 different beers to try, and there are a few more to take away.|
|Drink vs Food||Yea. No food.|
|Music||None – just Delia’s dulcet tones.|
|Snacks||There were pork scratchings to buy, and perhaps peanuts too.|
|Atmosphere||I imagine it depends on the tour, but there was a great group there when we went.|
|Price||£12.50 for a 2 hour tour, 3 pints, and a glass to take home. That’s pretty good.|
|Space||The tour was full, and we all just fitted on to some benches. You need to book reasonably far in advance.|
A great afternoon out – lots to learn about the beer (e.g. Chocolate Malt doesn’t have anything to do with Chocolate, and Hops are related to Cannabis), and some nice local beer to drink while you are doing it.