The Return of Dogbolter

What's Brewing magazine, Winter 1980/81, featuring David Bruce.

When we interviewed David ‘Firkin’ Bruce last summer, he told us about his new role as Chairman of the West Berkshire Brewery.

Last week, that rather belatedly triggered an idea: maybe, with a brewery at hand, he might be convinced, for the first time since the 1980s, to personally brew a beer to an original Firkin recipe.

He responded enthusiastically to the idea and is going to dig out his original 1979 recipe for the famous Dogbolter (all grain, no malt extract) and recreate it in the brewhouse at WBB.

It should be available on draught in time for the launch of Brew Britannia in June. There will also be a nationally-marketed bottled version available at some point afterwards.

UPDATE 23/04/2014: David Bruce says —

The WBB will be brewing 30 brewers’ barrels of my original Dogbolter (full-mash grist at 1060° O.G.) at 7:30 am on Wednesday 21st May.  This will be packaged to produce 40 firkins and c. 6,000 commemorative bottles, all to be available nationally from 2nd Jun.

Having spent so much time and effort researching the rise and fall of the Firkin brewpubs, we’re really excited at the prospect of actually tasting it.**

In fact, with the ‘1970s bitter’ currently being tinkered with at Kirkstall in Leeds, and talk of an anniversary batch of Litchborough Bitter at Phipps NBC, it’s going to be an interesting couple of months for we who lust after long gone beers.

We’ll post more details on availability when we have them.

** We have, of course, tasted the Ramsgate Brewery beer of the same name. Let’s hope this doesn’t turn into one of those trademark disputes everyone hates.

7 thoughts on “The Return of Dogbolter”

  1. Much excitement, as they say. As someone who’s never tasted this – and feared it lost to the sands of time – at least I’ll be able to get some kind of idea of what it was.

  2. Oh, YES! Bruce’s Dogbolter… When DB opened his 5th Firkin, the Fleece & Firkin in Bristol I was mad enough to ‘do’ all 5 in a session on the first night. David said ‘if you do it, I’ll give you a polypin of Dogbolter’. Imagining the damage that would do, I negotiated him down to Best Bitter and claimed the beer later after successfully hitting all 5, finishing at the Goose of course. Pint of Dogbolter please!

    1. Hmm – never did it for me the first time around I must say. Better than the Litchborough stuff though. Both very much beers of their time.

  3. Me too, I’d love to try a skin full.

    I remember drinking in a firkin pub in liverpool in the mid 90’s and getting trollied on some real head banging stuff. Where they still flogging dogbolter by then or was this grog summat else?

    1. After David Bruce sold up in the late eighties, the chain expanded massively under Allied, and I think most of the branches sold a dark, strong beer under the name Dogbolter, but it wasn’t always brewed to the same recipe.

      1. I was told by one of the Firkin brewers that Dogbolter was the one beer they all had to brew to the same recipe.

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