How to keep it LocALE during lockdown.

CAMRA has branches all across the UK that focus on their specific local areas, building awareness of pubs, breweries and events for everyone who loves good beer. In our branch (Reading and mid-Berkshire) we are spoilt for choice.

Twitter and Instagram have proven invaluable in allowing breweries to quickly communicate their response to COVID-19. Whilst the pubs are sadly having to lie low, the breweries have been able to get some deliveries out to customers.

Our local breweries are all those that sit within a 25 mile radius of central Reading (from the Queen Victoria statue to be precise.) 

Some of this branch’s most popular breweries have moved super-quick to put in online shops, sort payment methods and figure out delivery. The speed with which this has been carried out is admirable and has provided customers with some amazing brews to drink and try, while we are all cooped up at home. 

I must also mention the Grumpy Goat which has an amazing selection of beer which you can view through their website or the Untappd app. Untappd (a beer and cider reviewing application) tends to be a little more up to date and allows you to build wish lists, so this can be quite handy! The Grumpy Goat also stocks a wonderful selection of gins, cheeses and crackers so your delivery can be all the richer. 

*Please note that currently the Grumpy Goat have needed to amend their offering, due to the volume of orders and in a bid to manage their stock levels, so please see their website for the latest information around this. You can create ‘happy goat boxes’ for beer and ask them to pick for you when you suggest the style of beer you like.*

Equally, over in Newbury, Inn at Home is offering free UK-wide delivery if your order is over £30. They stock many local beers, a nice selection of wines and various spirits.

You may also spot that Oxford’s Tap Social are omitted from below, and this is because they have both closed for the time being.

I plan to put out two lists: this one, which features some of the better known breweries first, and then a follow up list (broken down by area) of the lesser known but very much active breweries we should also support. I will share that list imminently.

I list the following with hyperlinks to all the respective websites, and sharing their twitter handle which I always find is a great way to stay up to date with what’s what. Some breweries (mainly those on the outskirts of the branch) can only deliver so far, so I’ve tried to mention this where possible. 

If you are passionate about trying lots of different things, this time at home could allow for a voyage of discovery outside of your normal comfort blanket. I’ve found a new love for stouts and porters for example, that I’d have scoffed at years ago, but yet here we are. Enjoy!

Bingham’s – Ruscombe, Berkshire – @binghamsbrewery

Based in Twyford and famed for its award winning Vanilla Stout. If you are super-local (RG10) there is no charge for delivery, and if you’re within eight miles then Bingham’s will deliver free Wednesday-Friday.

Double-Barrelled – Reading – @DBBrewery

Reading’s only brewery on the infamous number 17 bus route, Double Barrelled moved quickly to get an online shop ready. With humility and on-point comms, locals have jumped in to support and buy beer. Sensibly, they’ve also added waves of guest beers too which would have normally featured in their taproom. At the time of writing, this includes Siren’s Maiden Barley Wine, which is increasingly hard to find. Great for cases of their own beer, but you can also mix and match smaller amounts as and when the shop allows. New beer is regularly being brewed now, with their NHS supporting Applause, released last week in time for the bank holiday. This is a 3.2% table beer, which if anything like their previous table beer offering, Elbows, proves promising. 

Elusive – Finchampstead – @ElusiveBrew

Brewing’s nicest chap Andy Parker’s Elusive Brewery is just over the way from Siren Craft in Finchampstead. Elusive regularly updates its online shop, and also sells guest beers (I’ve enjoyed Donzoko’s unfiltered lager from them when I built a mixed case). They ship across the branch for a very reasonable fee.

Hogs Back – Tongham, Surrey – @HogsBackBrewery

Right on the outskirts of our branch is Hogs Back which has been brewing since 1992. Its smart website explains there are three ways to do business: drive through, click and collect (both placed straight in your car boot) or Home delivery where there is no charge for orders over £40. If you live within 15 miles, it can deliver fresh bread too. 

Loddon – Dunsden Green – @Loddonbrewery

Just up in Dunsden Green, is the wonderful Loddon. Loddon’s Hocus Pocus, Hullabaloo and Hoppit are my go to beers when I see them on in the pub. Loddon helpfully update its website regularly. It offers free delivery if you are within 10 miles and the minimum order is a very reasonable £20. What I really respect about Loddon is this: not only is the 10 mile radius their limit, but if you live outside their drop-off zone they ask you to support other local breweries nearer to you.

Phantom Brew Co – Reading – @PhantomBrewCo

The newest of Reading’s central Breweries, Phantom have a taproom in the industrial estate behind Richfield Avenue. The online shop has been offline during lockdown, but it promises to relaunch this week with the announcement through their Instagram and Twitter that new beers are imminent. These include a new session pils and Ball Pit, a New England IPA.

Rebellion – Marlow – @RebellionBeer

Marlow’s Rebellion sprung into home delivery action upon lockdown, with minimum orders being a mere £10 and free delivery to a large number of OX, SL and HP postcodes. Most of Reading falls onto Rebellion’s courier list, but fees are reasonable. Rebellion is also offering drive through pickups with no pre-orders required. Rebellion normally stocks local produce as well, the only thing that isn’t clear is whether this is still available if you’re driving through: it isn’t available to buy in the online store at present. 

Siren Craft Brew – Finchampstead – @SirenCraftBrew

The most prolific of the breweries in our list, Finchampstead’s Siren Craft Brew has a brewing schedule that could only be compared to an actual force of nature. A smart online shop was already up and running, stock is also in the Grumpy Goat and it is set up well with national couriers. There are new additions regularly and great beer swag including glasses to purchase too. Siren has a very active Twitter account, with virtual pubs and drinking parties being a regular thing.

Tutts Clump – Tutts Clump – @tuttsclumpcider

Making cider started as a hobby for Tim Wale, but it fast became a very successful cider producer. Founded in 2006, Tutts Clump has only ever used natural ingredients, and produces a beautiful range of cider which is also vegetarian and vegan friendly. The website is smart and online ordering is up and running with a great selection of its award winning cider available to order. Tutts Clump have sensibly built the cost of delivery into their pricing, so it’s not something you then have to worry about adding on at checkout. The price you see, is the price you pay.

West Berkshire (also home to Renegade) – Yattendon – @westberksbrew

Yattendon’s West Berkshire Brewery had a well-established online shop before all this happened. There is a fantastic selection of beers, from cask conditioned bottled brews, to their more ‘craft’ range which includes the fantastic Stoney Lane Czech-style pilsner. West Berks has also launched three varieties of alcohol free beer which might come in handy for school nights. If you like a stout, the Tamesis is a great tipple. You do need to buy in cases currently, but perhaps you could go halves with a friend or a neighbour?

Wild Weather – Silchester – @WildWeatherAles

Silchester’s Wild Weather brews an incredible array of beer and styles. Stock on the website is increasing bit by bit and some mixed cases are now available which include a great selection of their beers. If you’re in central Reading, it doesn’t look like there is a courier charge so that’s something!

Windsor and Eton (also home to Uprising) – Windsor – @windsoretonbrew

Windsor and Eton has a great selection of beer available on their website including the easy drinking Republika pilsner, and many of its Uprising craft brews. There is also a small selection of wine available. Delivery is free to more localised areas, and a reasonable £8 for up to a 20kg delivery to UK mainland. The website even shows you what weight you’re at in your basket. They’ve also been good eggs and partnered with Brain Brew Whisky to make hand sanitiser: for every bottle you buy, they give one to the NHS for free. 

XT (also home to Animal) – Thame – @xtbrew

XT is a brewery I always look forward to seeing on tap at The Dairy. There are no mixed cases currently available, or an online shop, it lists what is currently in stock to order over the phone on its website. Delivery is £5 for a two case minimum to postcodes in Hampshire and Oxford, but they can deliver further afield. You just need to call them to arrange costs. 

I hope this is helpful for those of you who want to try something a little different. Please let me know how you get on!

Zoë

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