In the third of our meet the brewer series we’re chatting to a firm festival favourite, Arkells.
So, tell us about your brewery, who you are and what your role(s) at the brewery are?
Arkell’s Brewery was established in 1843 by John Arkell. Arkell’s is Swindon’s oldest business and one of just a few family breweries left in the UK. This year, Arkell’s is celebrating 176 years in the brewery business and has four members of the Arkell’s family who are intrinsic to how it is run; Chairman James Arkell, his cousin Nick Arkell, Head of Sales, and James’ sons George and Alex Arkell are Managing Director and Head Brewer respectively. The Arkell family work at the brewery alongside generations of other local families, brewing beers and looking after nearly 100 pubs across Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Hampshire. Arkell’s ales include award-winning beers such as ‘Wiltshire Gold’, ‘3Bs’, ‘Kingsdown’ and ‘Hoperation IPA’. Special ales are brewed regularly, with Head Brewer Alex Arkell, keeping the art of craft ale alive, offering drinkers new tastes and flavours all hand made in their brewery.
Can you describe Arkells in three words?
Family, artisan, local.
What are your personal favourite styles of beer?
I can’t help but be influenced by the seasons. Give me a beautiful chocolate-y stout at Christmas and I’m in heaven. Likewise, a crisp, pale ale in a beer garden in the summer. Perfect!
Which of your beers is the biggest fan favourite/most popular?
The most popular beer has always been our most established, 3B. First brewed in 1910, it’s a classic best bitter. Although, snapping at its heels is Hoperation IPA. We’ve had some brilliant feedback from tenants and customers about this dry hoppy IPA first brewed in 2015 which has proved to be very popular in pubs.
Which of your beers would you recommend to a first-timer at your bar?
‘Wiltshire Gold’ is an easy drinking session golden ale; it’s a great starter beer. Brewed using English Maris Otter malt, it creates a satisfyingly sweet malty flavour. The use of traditional hops also gives the beer a mellow floral aroma followed by that distinctive hoppy taste.
Best beer snack?
Ready salted crisps really compliment the taste of the majority of beers and ales. The salt is the perfect companion to the plethora of flavours of Arkell’s brews.
If you could get one music artist/celebrity to represent your brewery, who would best fit your business and ethos?
Undoubtedly, this would have to be our namesake rock band – Arkells. They’re from Canada and formed in 2006. We’re actually in touch with them and they’ve already been over to visit us in the brewery to perform! We’re hoping to get them back soon and hold more of an event for them. Watch this space!
If you could make a beer using any flavours, and guarantee that it be delicious, which flavours would you love to use?
I love beer that tastes like pure malt and hops – those would be my chosen flavours. It tastes simply delicious!
What are you looking forward to at the Great British Beer Festival this summer?
One of the best things about the GBBF is seeing and hearing about what other breweries have been busy creating over the past twelve months. They always serve as an inspiration to my beer-making and it’s fascinating to hear about the history behind the beer. Our past is so intrinsic to who we are as a business – and the beer we produce. It’s brilliant to see that there are others that are continuing to champion family brewing whilst innovating in the future.
What makes the Great British Beer Festival special, and what has motivated you to come this year?
Not only is a truly enjoyable pint guaranteed, I also love speaking to other brewers and seeing what new delicious cask beer the festival has to offer. It’s a great way to celebrate the exciting industry that we work in.
What exciting things does Arkells have coming up?
Last year was our 175th anniversary and, to celebrate, we built a new shop and visitor centre on our brewery site called ‘The Grape and Grain’. It’s a great place to visit for both the locals and Arkell’s pub licensees. We’re doing a lot of work to organise and host events such as tastings there, so watch this space about how it might evolve!
Sounds good? Get your tickets to the festival today.