When I first started working with the Reading and Mid-Berks CAMRA branch, local beer and ale (LocAle) became a keen interest of mine. In an increasingly globalised world, attempting to keep purchases local and from independent producers can have huge benefits to the local community.
Last week I shared my list of our better-known local breweries and suppliers that fall within our branch i.e. within 25 miles of the Queen Victoria statue on Friar Street (you can find that list here).
I do just want to mention the Berkshire Beer Box briefly. Set up at the tail end of 2019, this scheme ensures you are supporting buying locally and the man behind the business, Jymi, is passionate about locale beer, having reviewed and blogged about it for years with the help of his friend. He has built some great partnerships utilising many of the breweries featured in this list and the prior one, so this is a great place to start if you’re new to local breweries. Take a look when you can.
Reviewing the full official list for our branch, it’s quite amazing that so many producers are based in this area. In this post, I share the details of breweries and producers who are perhaps lesser known, but who are very much active. I have also included a couple of cider producers because we’re fortunate to have some great ones nearby. I hope you find it helpful. It’s a rather large list, so get those notepads at the ready.
Berkshire / West Berkshire
Bond Brews – Wokingham, Berkshire – @bondbrews
My colleague Jake put me onto this brewery after having a fantastic brewery tour from the owner. A selection of beers are available including their award-winning Bengal Tiger, and they sell casks, bottles and growlers. You can pre-order over the phone / online and pick up on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays – and for those self-isolating in the local area, home delivery is free.
Butts – Hungerford, Berkshire – @buttsbrewery
Butts, established in 1994, is the only organic brewery on this list. Their website is very primitive, but it’s had some updates recently and you can now order online, with delivery by national courier.Mixed cases are available. You can also buy their beer from Waitrose and specialist farm shops and I’ve been impressed with the brews that I have tried, especially the Green Lager.
Crazy Dave Cider– Holyport, Berkshire – @crazydavecider
Crazy Dave has been producing cider in Holyport since 2013. The website is user friendly and clearly shows you their story and what they’re all about. They sell a range of ciders including their CAMRA winner Katy which is medium sweet. In May 2020, they bottled their new ‘Mazing Mulberry. To place an order, it’s a case of ‘Hello Dave’ via the phone. Delivery is free with super reasonable minimum order spends of £15 / £25 depending on your location.
Dolphin Brewery – Woodley, Berkshire – @BreweryDolphin
Dolphin Brewery is the newest brewery on this list, launched in 2020 by husband and wife duo Laura Dolphin and Andy Barnes. Dolphin has had a brilliant start, building a big support network of keen customers over a short space of time. They communicate all their online sales via twitter and instagram, or if you subscribe to their mailing list, you’ll get a helpful heads up. They also sell their beer at the Reading Farmers Market. After a busy year in 2020, expect a quieter start to 2021, but keep an eye out for their return.
Indigenous – Chaddleworth, Berkshire – @indigenousbrew
This microbrewery has been creating beer since 2011, and the AMMO Belle American Pale Ale won ‘Beer of the Festival’ at Reading in 2016. Beer can be bought in various sizes, from bottles to pint carriers and beyond. You need to call ahead to order: brews are also regularly stocked in the Grumpy Goat and Inn at Home.
Delphic – Thatcham, West Berkshire – @delphicbrew
Thatcham’s Delphic brewery will deliver their beer to you with free delivery to anyone within ten miles of RG19, as long as the minimum order requirement of £15 is met. Delphic have a greta selection of their beer available now online, and gift packs and even some Pang Valley cider, talking of which…
Pang Valley – Cold Ash, West Berkshire – @Pangvalleycider
Heralded for its Royal County medium sparking cider (currently unavailable: sad face), Pang Valley has increasingly raised its profile and gained support locally this year. I first tried the Royal County at Newbury’s Catherine Wheel and it blew me away. Pang Valley encourages everybody to #rethinkcider. Stock is limited right now, and you can contact them via firstname.lastname@example.org. Their other signature cider is the Abbey Gold, and new ciders are apparently in the offing soon. Even if you’re not a cider drinker by nature, you really should have this producer on your radar.
Stardust– White Waltham, Berkshire – @stardustbrewery
Over in White Waltham is Stardust Brewery which has been brewing since 2016. There is an online shop and a case of six bottles will set you back around £10. Single bottles are available, so you can create a mixed box. Orders over £50 qualify for free delivery, and courier elsewhere is a very reasonable £6.
Swamp Bog – Enborne, Berkshire – @SwampBogBrewery
Swamp Bog is definitely worth a follow on Twitter, because I see the legendary Tim Thomas of Newbury has been sharing his love for their beer on there. There is no online store, so you contact the brewery direct but stock is available at the Two Cocks Brewery. Moreover, how can you resist a brewery with brew names such as Bottom Biter and Swamp Bog Pixie Piss? Crumbs.
Two Cocks – Enborne, Berkshire – @TwoCocksBrewery
Established back in 2011, Two Cocks has gradually built a solid reputation for their quality beer. It has an online store and can deliver locally: outside the area, delivery is via UPS. Beer is available in mini kegs, bottles or two, four and six pint containers. A mixed case of a dozen of their signature brews is £34 and includes the golden ale, bitter and stout. I really love the Puritan stout and Jymi at Berkshire Beer Box tells me that the Viscount golden ale is one of the best he’s ever had.
Andwell – Andwell, Hampshire – @AndwellBrewery
Established in 2008, Andwell’s selection of ales, bitters and lager (including gluten free options) is available to buy online. Their catalogue is worth a look, as it also includes a selection of groceries and, of all things, compost! Deliveries are restricted to Hampshire, but you are otherwise welcome to pick up on-site.
Longdog Brewery – Basingstoke, Hampshire – @Longdog_Brewery
Lovely Longdog is a family-run brewery which is still able to deliver in the Basingstoke area for a minuscule £3. Longdog speak openly online about the impact the current situation is having on them, so really need support from those of you out that way. I still remember their Centennial Single Hop with much enthusiasm. Beer is cask-conditioned but available in bottles or bag in box: they are currently selling a couple of bitters, a pale ale and a London porter.
Triple fff– Four Marks, Hampshire – @TriplefffBrewer
Established back in 1997, Triple fff is one of the most experienced breweries on this list and has previously won the Supreme CAMRA Champion Beer of Britain back in 2008 for Alton’s Pride (available in polypin). Delivery is kept local right now, within 10 miles, but it is free when you spend £20. The website is well worth a look: there is a fantastic selection of craft beers from other local breweries too. They also sell wines, spirits and cider available and they’ll create a mixed box for you if you let them know your budget.
Amwell Springs – Cholsey, Oxfordshire – no twitter.
Amwell Springs’ brews can be bought direct or through Craftibeer (an independent drinks specialist who deliver) and their stock includes an English ale, amber, pale and IPA. You can purchase a mixed case through Craftibeer, and shipping is £8.99.
Barn Owl – Gozzard’s Ford, Oxfordshire – no twitter.
Based at an old farmhouse in Oxfordshire in 2016, Barn Owl sells three beers: a best bitter, a golden and a dark ale. It’s a case of contacting them to order by the litre and delivery depends on how far out you are.
Loose Cannon– Abingdon, Oxfordshire – @LooseCannonBeer
Loose Cannon is focussed on home delivery within a 10 mile radius of their brewery. So if you’re in Oxford, Wantage, Wallingford or Didcot, you’re in luck. There is stock available of their signature and award-winning Gunners Gold session beer.
LoveBeer – Milton, Oxfordshire – @Lovebeerbrewery
Based in Milton, LoveBeer names its brews after the owner’s dogs. It’s probably best suited to those located nearby, as it doesn’t look like delivery is an option right now. They sell beer in bottles, boxes, firkins and more, and all orders go to owner Jim Southy direct.
Lovibonds – Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire – @Lovibonds
Possibly one of this list’s better known breweries, Lovibonds has been brewing American style beers since 2005. The website is brilliant, with frequent updates and a great online store. Free deliveries are restricted to RG4, RG5, RG9 and RG10 postcodes (good news for Caversham residents) but UK mainland delivery is an option too. You can build your own mixed box of 12 beers for just over £20.
Philsters – Milton, Oxfordshire – no twitter.
Philster’s ales feature in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide. Current availability includes the golden, red and pale ale and the seasonal beers include the highly regarded Darkside porter. They are currently delivering free within the local area, with a minimum order of just six bottles.
Chiltern – Terrick, Buckinghamshire – @ChilternBrewery
Strictly outside our radius but a must mention, Chiltern Brewery has been in the business for over 40 years. Chiltern’s website and social media are smart and the selection is brilliant. Orders are free when you spend over £50, which considering they also stock wine and their own small batch gin in different varieties, is good value for money. Many beers are gluten free, and others have won various accolades over the years.
Malt – Prestwood, Buckinghamshire – @Maltthebrewery
Also on the edge of our branch radius is Malt. They are currently only delivering locally in kegs and cases of 12, but if you live out that way, it’s worth a look. They also stock a brilliant selection of gin online, as well as crackers and snacks.
Ascot Brewing Company – Camberley, Surrey – @ascotbrewing
This brewery is on the edge of our radius over in Camberley but they are also a must mention. Ascot has a wonderful selection online. There is also the addition of Disruption is Brewing, the brewery’s new craft beer arm. It’s free delivery if you spend over £30 and live within 15 miles of the brewery, but even if you don’t live nearby shipping is very good value. It’s worth a peruse because their 10th Anniversary imperial breakfast stout was outstanding last year. On site right now is the new Like Father like Son imperial packs – they will be something to cherish.
Craft Brews UK – Frensham, Surrey – @CraftBrewsUK
Surrey’s Craft Brews has a selection of its beer available for takeaway only, pre-ordered over the phone. Beers are available in 1-20 litre containers. Craft Brews is also hosting virtual quiz nights which you can register for online.
Thames Side – Staines, Surrey – @thamessidebrew
Making great use of twitter, Thames Side Brewery regularly communicate exactly what is available on site for pickup. The brewery can also deliver locally if you are self-isolating. No online store, so you need to ring them to order. Top beers from Thames Side include the Black Swan Porter (can you tell I’m still very much in a dark beers phase over here?)
I hope this presents some further options during this odd period of social isolation, virtual pubs and perhaps venturing into trying new beers and new breweries. So, as you plan your payday purchases it is well worth keeping these beloved local breweries and producers in mind: they could really do with our support.
Again, do let me know how you get on.