Unexpected brewery tour & supermarket visit

October 29, 2015

I had driven out to Aldermaston today to collect a painted panel. It was urgent, the job had to be despatched today (so it would still arrive in “October”) and at the last moment I found the panel had been stripped of paint when it had been modified. So I had driven it to the painters a couple of days ago, pushed it through their letter box (it was after hours) and was back to collect it, package it and send it with the rest of the order. Grateful thanks to Shaun for the quick turn-around during a busy end-of-month.

However, I turned up a little early – for a change, no hold-ups on the M4. On the way in I noviced a sign about beer being for sale in an adjoining unit, so while I was waiting I went over.

It turned out it was the Wild Weather Ale microbrewery. And a most fascinating half hour with a guide (no name…sorry), who provided samples of their beer from one of the most unusual set of taps I’d ever seen.

wildweather

He explained their philosophy, their methods, the different beers. Some brewed with Chocolate (not chocolate malt), some with Earl Gray Tea – I don’t like the tea, the bergamont is too heavy (I prefer Lady Gray Tea, which is Orange and Lemon), but in the beer, very acceptible – and a very distinctive one made with Peaches. Stouts, other styles are also brewed, and some sampled. Others just used different hops sourced from around the world. I was only taking a couple of sips, but was notibly feeling the effect of booze by the end.

Another factor was that some of their “barrels” are dual skinned. The beer is inside a (mylar, I imagine) bag, and the gas to pressurise the beer for the taps outside. This means no gas in contact with the beer, so it lasts a long time after it is tapped. I suppose someone took the winebag concept and added the second stage, but a brilliant idea. And in use with the taps, so that they were not wasting gallons of beer in providing samples. But there were a large number of more traditional barrels in the unit.

I purchased a couple of bottles of a number of different brews that I had sipped, for further study, you understand, although one beer (10% ABV) was a wallet scorching £5 per 330ml bottle. One for Halloween Night, methinks, and one for another time.

On the start of my return journey, I stopped at a local Budgen’s supermarket in the village of Mortimer. Mainly just for a drink and perhaps a snack. I was stunned. The variety, the range, a butcher’s desk, frozen speciality foods (& microwave), wines from Laithwaites (a specialty wine club), beers from brewers I knew but never seen that particular one before… I purchased tonight’s dinner being a specialist fish company cook-chill meal plus frozen (defrosted) potato dauphinouse. I had never expected to purchase such stuff in a franchise that in the past had been just another corner shop to use if desperate. To put it mildly, I was impressed. And they were doing community stuff, with some walk being organised, and a manequin of some woman in the window – must be someone significant as people were taking photos of her through the window with their children in front. The woman in front of me at the check-out was talking to her children in a language I didn’t recognise, but given what they were buying, she wasn’t the cleaning lady.

It was like stumbling into an idealised version of the village shop in The Archers. As it was end of the school day there were childern with mothers, children too old to be with mothers all over the place, and I overheard part of a discussion with the butcher about deboning some kind of joint of meat.

I wonder what the property prices are around there?…

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