The dark side of Henley for me was a visit to the corpse of Brakspear crawling with very well-off maggots. The analogy is a bit unfair on the paying guests of the Hotel du Vin but looking in through the brewhouse window it felt like they were walking on my grave. The most poignant moment was seeing the mistletoe that I had hung up at Brakspear’s last Christmas as a brewery. Traditionally every Christmas the brewer or fortunate other was hoisted up to the eves of the roof to tie on a bundle of mistletoe. Legend had it that as long as the mistletoe remained in place the brewery would prosper. Mine was still there 8 years on but the brewery has been eviscerated. Maybe if Peter Scholey had done it we’d all still be there. Or maybe Mr Scholey knew something so delegated the morbid task to me!
The picture at the top of this post is of the malt barrow in the old malt store taken on the last day as a brewery by Nigel Grant the Bottling Manager. It’s the only time I have ever seen the room empty. God knows how many tonnes of Maris Otter this barrow carted across those noble old floorboards. He sent me the picture down when I started at Sharp’s and it brought a tear to my eye.
London was as expensive and fun as always and I tried to track down Gentle Jane without success at a few branches of ‘Spoons. I did try a number of the other festival brews and was impressed, underwhelmed and disgusted with an equal number. Two of the beers I gave back over the bar for disposal, one of which has been much-vaunted in the blogosphere. I’m not naming names because my opinion is irrelevant and this isn’t a beer review blog but to call this hazy and acrid beer, balanced and well-crafted is as to describe Katie Price as beautiful. Maybe I am out of step with 'beer fashion' as well as celebrity culture.