The Badass Beer Advent Calendar: December 11th
It used to be, though, and a very good beer it is too. The Young’s brewery in Wandsworth is… was… still is… but it isn’t any more. Sorry, that was a bit confusing. What I’m trying to say is that it’s a local landmark, but beer is no longer brewed there.
In the 1950s and 60s when too many breweries were merging and conglomerating and turning to keg beer, Youngs was one of the few to resist the tide, retain family control of the business and stick to cask-conditioned ales.
The Ram brewery was already in existence when Charles Young and Anthony Bainbridge decided to go into the business by purchasing the facility in 1831. Indeed, there are records of a public house called The Ram on the Wandsworth site going back as far as 1550, and good evidence that beer was being brewed there 26 years later, leading Youngs to claim that theirs was the oldest British brewery in continuous operation.
At least, it was until they joined with another long-standing family brewer of cask beer, Charles Wells of Bedford (about 50 miles north of London), in 2006 and closed it down. The site won’t be razed to the ground though - there are plans to redevelop it as a business and residential complex. In fact, several of the buildings can’t be demolished because they’ve been given listed status by English Heritage, meaning that they have significant historic or architectural merit and can’t be torn down or altered, and which puts them in the same league as, f’rinstance, Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. Not bad for a humble brewery I reckon!
Incidentally, about a mile to the south is Wandsworth Jail. Notable names who have been invited to reside there as a ‘Guest of Her Majesty’ include Oscar Wilde, Ronnie Kray and, at the time of writing, editor-in-chief of Wikileaks, Julian Assange.
Jim Hughes, Head Beer Nerd, Alamo South Lamar
“If I had all the money I’ve spent on drink… I’d spend it on drink.” ~ Sir Henry Rawlinson