The Westerham Brewery Company completed their inaugural brew this week, producing 10 Barrels of their flagship ale ‘British Bulldog’. This revives a more than 200-year old tradition of brewing in the Westerham area.

Robert Wicks established the Westerham Brewery Company earlier this year when he left the City after 16 years with a leading City institution. He has traded a career, which involved stints in Tokyo and New York, for a pair of Wellington boots and the aroma of hops in the beautiful Kent countryside.

Brewing takes place at the National Trust’s Grange Farm in Crockham Hill, a village just outside Westerham. The brewery will help to boost the farm’s income whilst bringing new life to a former dairy. The building has been refurbished with state of the art hygienic wall cladding, stainless steel drainage and a dedicated beer conditioning cold store. Copper and stainless steel brewing vessels were imported from the USA and Canada.

The Westerham Brewery Company is committed to the use of locally produced ingredients, wherever possible, and to the reduction of ‘food miles’ through the supply of locally produced products to local consumers. Many ‘national brands’ are transported long distances with a negative impact on product quality and limiting customer choice.

The new brewery will initially brew four regular ales: Black Eagle Special Pale Ale, British Bulldog, Sevenoaks Bitter “7X” and Westerham Special Bitter Ale “1965”. The last of these ales, “1965”, is brewed to a similar recipe used by Bill Wickett, the head brewer of Westerham’s Black Eagle Brewery, for his departing brew when the original brewery closed in 1965.

With the permission of the National Collection of Yeast Cultures, Westerham Brewery Company has recultured two of the yeast strains from the Black Eagle Brewery. The old brewery deposited it’s yeast back in 1959 when it was taken over by Taylor Walker. Enjoying the same water supply as the original brewery, the Westerham Brewery Company hopes to regenerate many of the flavours enjoyed by real ale connoisseurs in the Kent, Surrey and East Sussex area.

Historically, Westerham Ales were enjoyed by Sir Winston Churchill at Chartwell, his home near Westerham and in the brewery’s 125-pub estate. The beers were also popular with the airmen of nearby RAF Biggin Hill during the Second World War. Following the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944, Westerham Pale Ale was racked into the auxiliary fuel tanks of RAF Spitfires and the beer delivered to troops in Normandy!

The town of Westerham has many historic connections. It is the birthplace of John Frith, who translated the Bible with William Tyndale and was martyred at Smithfield in 1533. General Wolfe, who defeated the French army at Quebec in 1759, was also born here. Sir Winston Churchill spent much of his life at Chartwell near Westerham.

A little bit of history is being revived with the return of brewing to Westerham.