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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