Friday, February 27, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Point of Brew: Brewing in the idyllic English Cotswolds

brewery 3W

This is a general view of the brewery site. The old malt house, which is no longer used for malting, is to the right, the Old Brewery House where we stayed is in the middle and the brewery is in the non-descript buildings to the left of the photograph. Michael Lewis/Courtesy photo

By
From page A10 | July 03, 2014 |

The Queen’s Head in Stow-on-the-Wold in the Cotswolds of England is among my favorite pubs.

Of course, it is deliciously old, having been a part of this ancient market town since the 13th century, has all sort of nooks and crannies to settle into with one’s favorite and well-loved companion, low beams festooned in hop garlands to soften the blow if one fails to mind one’s head and in winter there are two fireplaces to give the scent of wood smoke to the place and in summer a gentle breeze blows through from the scented garden to the tourist-bustling street outside in the real world.

It is a place of familiarity and charm for me for these reasons and because the Queen’s Head was a stopping place on the A429 roughly halfway between my folks’ place to the south and my dear companion’s to the north.

We traveled the A429 often during our several sabbatical leaves and frequent vacation trips to the U.K. over many years. On this route we passed an intriguing sign pointing to the village of Donnington and Donnington brewery; however, after several attempts I failed to find the Donnington brewery in Donnington and eventually gave up.

Curiously, the Queen’s Head advertises Donnington Ales, which implies it is a pub tied to (or owned by) the Donnington brewery. Turns out, the Donnington brewery does exist. It is not in Donnington, as one might expect, but near Upper Swell.

I know that because I am writing this column at the Old Brewery House that is literally connected to the Donnington Brewery (photo). We have been here, with some of our California family, for a week now enjoying each other, the charming Cotswold villages and rolling bucolic scenery; tomorrow we journey on to Wales. Although the brewery is not open to the public I was able to make contact with Johnny Arkell who (as member of the well-known Arkell brewing family) runs the brewery; he kindly gave me a tour of this extraordinary place.

I met the head brewer, Phil (photo), who was hard at work brewing their Best Bitter at the time. The brewery is a museum piece full of charm and anachronisms and difficult access and dangerous locations.

It makes ales by absolutely textbook traditional brewing methods, 18 U.K.-barrels (maybe 50 hectoliters) per brew usually twice a week. It is a typical tower brewery; that is the materials for making the beer are hauled to the top of the building and then flow downhill by gravity to the lowest floor where the beer is put into casks and sent out to the pubs.

It is a very efficient system, if you think about it, and many modern breweries, though mainly powered by pumps, give a nod to this idea. Of course the brewer must have a means of getting raw materials, mainly malt and water, both of which are very heavy, to the top of the tower.

That is what makes the Donnington brewery very cool and unusual: The grunt work of the brewery is done by a water wheel (photo). Water-power lifts sacks of malt to the mill high in the building and pumps water to the roof tank. Talk about eco-friendly! Although I have seen a few old breweries powered by 19th-century steam engines, this is the only one I have seen with a water wheel and I love it!

The brewery makes only traditional cask ales to supply its 17 pubs. True to form, these are all located within a few miles of the brewery because the beer was originally delivered by horse-drawn dray; also, this style of beer has a short shelf-life of maybe two weeks and cannot spend too much time in transit.

We spent a good deal of time in pubs connected to the Donnington brewery because they were close and charming and supplied good beer and good food. Included among these of course was the Queen’s Head in Stow where we enjoyed a lunch with a half a dozen family visiting members on one particularly lovely English day. — Reach Michael Lewis at [email protected] Comment on this column at www.davisenterprise.com

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    Woodland infant’s death remains a mystery

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

    New greenhouse will add to ‘Farm to Mouth’ program

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Learn about pollinators, gardens and honey at Yolo Basin fundraiser

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Can you give them a home?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    For the record

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Fire damages South Davis home

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Gerber nominations close Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Explorit: Humming right along

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A3

    Flower arrangers feature S.F. designer

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Celebrate Africa on Saturday at I-House

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Wolk and Dodd team up to provide Napa earthquake tax relief

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Robb Davis to speak about homelessness, energy

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Spring sing-along is March 4

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Chamber explores how to pay for Davis’ needs

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Two free yoga classes offered March 12

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Take a night walk at Cache Creek

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Class of 1970 plans 45-year reunion

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Bicycle safety course to be offered in Davis

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Documentary on immigration issues will be screened

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Learn about your brain on March 14

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    A fill-up mishap

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Adopt a household for Bridge to Housing participants

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Workshop will teach sustainable gardening methods

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Forum

    Tired of all of this

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Oral Health Project launches

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

    Here an H, there an H

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

     
    Cavalier attitude about bike safety

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

    Start early to build healthy dental habits

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B6

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B6

     
    No extra cost for containers

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

    .

    Sports

    Inquiring minds want to know about Aggies

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Encouraging start for DHS boys tennis team

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Off day for Aggie men at UCSB

    By Kim Orendor | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Aggie women fall to 4th after lackluster showing

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Lady Devils are on to the SJS semis

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Blue Devil boys expect a spike in production

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Late goal lifts Red Wings over Sharks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

     
    Watney struggling at windy Honda Classic

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    International Film Series to present ‘Jaffa’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

     
    Monticello announces March schedule

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

    The Artery presents ‘Stepping Into Nature’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10 | Gallery

     
    YoloArts’ Gallery 625 presents ‘The Poetry of Dots’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    ‘Focus': A sharply conceived caper

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    The Woodland Opera House announces 2015-16 season

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12 | Gallery

    .

    Business

    Nissan’s Z remains an affordable performer

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3

     
    Car Care: Simple DIY steps to protect your car through all seasons

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Dieter W. Gruenwedel

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    George Miller Jr.

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Death notice: Celia E. Recchio

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Vernon E. Burton

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, February 27, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B5