Beer history

Beer for the penguins

Penguins on the Falkland Islands.
SOURCE: Yuriy Rzhemovskiy/Unsplash

In the excitement of the post-CAMRA beer revolution, breweries popped up in some very remote places.

First, starting closest to home, there was the Lundy Brewery on the island in the Bristol Channel, which sold its beer through the Marisco Tavern from 1984 until 1995. With a permanent population of fewer than thirty people, the brewery was really installed to capitalise on the summer tourist market.

1983 saw the opening of a brewery at Borve on the Isle of Lewis. Brian Glover, in his marvellous New Beer Guide (1987), describes the owners’ difficulties in getting raw materials — malt picked up with farm supplies; hops and yeast in the post — and, in particular, the locals’ lack of sympathy when the cost was passed on to them. In 1988, the brewery moved to the mainland.

So far, so good, but now it’s time to really push the boat out, so to speak, and head all the way across the Atlantic to the Falkland Islands. It was there, in February 1983 that a brewery was established for the first time. Sir Rex Hunt, Civil Commissioner, opened the brewery, and was shown around by Ron Barclay whose employers, Everard’s of Leicester, were behind the venture. They both enjoyed pints of Penguin Ale. Was it a political statement in the wake of the recently concluded war with Argentina? Or, more likely, an attempt to pacify the several thousand thirsty soldiers stationed there?

Finally, there was a similar effort on St Helena, this time led by veteran brewer Bill Urquhart. Urquhart, an ex-Watney man, is a contender for the title of Britain’s first ‘microbrewer’, and acted as consultant to several new breweries in the late seventies and eighties. In 1980, after he’d sold the Litchborough Brewery, intending to retire, the Foreign Office approached him on behalf of Solomon’s, the island’s biggest company. As his daughter told us: “For the next three years he spent several months a year in the South Atlantic assembling a brewing plant and training the local staff.”

See also: the pub at the edge of the world.

2 replies on “Beer for the penguins”

Have been to Lundy several times but sadly the brewery had closed down by the time of my first visit. Though it’s not all bad: the Marisco now sells re-badged Tribute, kept very nicely too.

From what I remember the Lundy brewery had problems with dry summers in the 1990s and a lack of water — when they stopped the kit went over to the mainland and was initially used by Country Life Brewery, I think it went somewhere else after that but I can’t remember where. Have always wanted to go to Lundy.

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