A much-loved Henley icon gets a new look today (5th June) with the relaunch of Brakspear Bitter and Oxford Gold in all Brakspear pubs selling the popular beers.
Brakspear Bitter is renamed Brakspear Gravity, in a reference to the ‘double dropping’ system used to brew the ale, when it flows under gravity from its initial 16 hours of fermentation to another vessel for secondary fermentation. Double dropping creates the clarity in appearance and taste that has made the beer sought-after across Oxfordshire and beyond.
Designs for both Brakspear Gravity and Oxford Gold have been given a dramatic makeover, with a new livery inspired by William Morris, designer, poet and a graduate of Oxford University who lived in Kelmscott Manor in Oxfordshire. The famous Brakspear Bee is still prominent within the new design, which will feature on pump clips, bottle labels, beer mats and more.
Brakspear chief executive Tom Davies said, “We are thrilled with this new look for our beers. Double dropping under gravity is at the heart of what makes Brakspear beers so special, so putting it centre stage on the new design gives us a real point of difference.
“Brakspear beers are a huge part of our business; a pint of well-served Brakspear Gravity or Oxford Gold is one of main reasons why customers choose to drink in our pubs. We’re confident that the new livery will be appreciated by our loyal drinkers, while also appealing to new, younger consumers.”
The new design is being unveiled exclusively in Brakspear pubs this week, with other pubs who sell the beers receiving it later in June. All Brakspear branded items, from beer mats to T-shirts, bottle openers and parasols, will start to feature the new livery over the coming months.
Bradley Ralph, bar manager at the Angel on the Bridge in Henley, said: “This is a really positive move for Brakspear beers. We love the new look, which is fresh and exciting and will attract younger drinkers who are used to the interesting, non-traditional craft beer designs. We expect the new name to create some interest at the bar, and give us an opportunity to talk about the unusual brewing process behind Brakspear Gravity.”
A major consumer awareness campaign promoting the new designs will run over the summer including: a presence at the Stonor Park Food Festival (15-16 June) and Countryfile Live at Blenheim Palace in August, a pop-up bar in the Oxford Visitor Centre (3-7 June) and vouchers distributed via local sightseeing bus companies.
Notes to editor:
Brakspear and brewing
Brakspear beers have been brewed at the Wychwood Brewery in Witney since the closure of the Brakspear brewery in Henley in 2002. Much of the original equipment, including the original Brakspear Copper, dating back to 1779, and the ‘double drop’ fermentation vessels were moved and reinstalled.
Brakspear Bitter, Oxford Gold and some other Brakspear seasonal ales are brewed under licence for Brakspear by Marston’s at the Wychwood Brewery.
In 2013, Brakspear opened the Bell Street Brewery in Henley, bringing brewery back to the town. Brakspear Special is brewed here on a permanent basis, alongside seasonal ales including Brakspear Mild and Old Ale, Honey Bee – supporting Friends of the Earth’s ‘Bee Cause’ – and Two Bells, which commemorates the annual Henley Club to Pub Swim.
The double drop
The Brakspear Fermenting Room at the Wychwood brewery houses six original Brakspear square wooded fermenters lined up with two circular vessels above them, up in the roof eaves. This arrangement of vessels is called the ‘double drop’ system. Cooled beer coming from the brewhouse starts fermentation in the top-fermenting vessel.
After 16 hours the beer is allowed to fall under gravity, or ‘dropped’ into the vessel below. In this process any protein or solid material is left behind in the top-fermenting vessel. In addition, the beer is gently aerated. Fermentation then continues in the bottom vessel for a further 24-48 hours.
Brakspear beers are among the very few in the UK which continue to use the ‘double drop’.
The Brakspear bee
The bee on the Brakspear logo has its roots in a centuries-old connection to Nicholas Breakspear, the only English Pope and a distant relative of the Brakspear family. Elected as Pope Adrian IV in 1154, his papal seal included a bee, apparently as a reminder of the ‘B’ at the beginning of his name.