An iconic Henley ale will be on sale at the UK’s biggest beer festival next month after local Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) members selected Brakspear Special, brewed at the town’s Bell Street Brewery, for the Great British Beer Festival at London’s Olympia.
Brakspear is supplying four kilderkins – the equivalent of 576 pints – of Special to the festival, which runs from 11 – 15 August and is expected to attract more than 60,000 beer lovers. Special will be served on the ‘Over the Rainbow’ bar, one of a dozen bars at the event, which brings together 900 different real ales, ciders and perries from across the country.
Special is a 4.3% classic bitter which was restored by Brakspear in 2013 when it opened the Bell Street Brewery. The beer had previously been brewed in Henley for 40 years, until 2002, and was hugely popular in and around the town. Its revival was welcomed by its many fans as well as new drinkers and it is now available year round in a number of Brakspear pubs locally.
Head brewer at the Bell Street Brewery, Malcolm Mayo, said, “It’s wonderful to be invited to the Great British Beer Festival with Brakspear Special, as we only started to brew it at the Bell Street Brewery two years ago. In that time, Special has won over drinkers in and around Henley and we’ll be interested to see how it fares with beer lovers from further afield.”
He added, “The Great British Beer Festival is a marvellous celebration of beer that only happens because of the dedication of CAMRA volunteers. To thank them, we’re sending an extra barrel of Special up to Olympia for the staff to enjoy, and have offered them a tour of the Bell Street Brewery whenever they want.”
Brakspear Special was first created as a ‘special’ version of the popular 3.5% ABV Brakspear Bitter, brewed from the same ingredients including Fuggles and Goldings hops but delivering a more intense flavour.
Above image shows Malcolm Mayo, head brewer at the Bell Street Brewery, with Brakspear Special at the Bull on Bell Street, Henley