English beer disappoints Canberra brewer

Richard Watkins, brewer at Canberra’s Wig and Pen, returned from the UK recently, inspired by a mild ale that won the Great British Beer Festival’s champion beer award.

The Wig’s version of this easy-drinking style, modelled on the winning ale, should be on tap in a few weeks, says Richard. It’s in the pot now, brewed on 16 October.

But Richard’s three-week tour fell a little flat. He reckons that real ale appears to be struggling in London where mass-produced lagers like Fosters, Fosters Extra Cold, Stellar Artois and Carlsberg seem ubiquitous.

He said that he struggled, ’even finding a good London pub that looked after its beer’.

Richard tasted 311 beers in visits to five breweries and the Great British Beer Festival – and awarded only twenty-eight of them a score of four or more out of five – a depressingly low figure from the land that led the ale revival thirty years ago.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2007