Wimbledon may be synonymous with tennis, but its illustrious history as a beer-brewing hub predates the tournament by almost half a century.
Founded in 1832 by William Cook, the Wimbledon Brewery had given rise to the town’s tallest building by 1880:
a five-storey tower built by new owner William Quartermaine. Destroyed almost entirely by a fire in 1889, the brewery fell silent.
Fast-forward to 2015 and local entrepreneur and former banker Mark Gordon’s vision: to resurrect the historic brand and establish a new Wimbledon Brewery worthy of its namesake. Launched on the site of Merton Priory – a brewing stronghold from the Middle Ages until its dissolution in 1538 – the company chose a phoenix as its logo, reborn from the ashes of Quartermaine’s tower, clutching
English hops in its jaws.
Similarly, the Wimbledon Brewery represents a renaissance in the brewing industry, inspiring a new generation of drinkers and brewers. A heritage custodian with a contemporary attitude, the brand’s philosophy is laudable: marry the best English brewing traditions with innovation and the finest ingredients.
Starring roles are played by classic native varieties, with a supporting cast of new and old-world hops, a bespoke strain of yeast and Maris Otter barley selected by master brewer Derek Prentice – a brewhouse veteran honoured with SIBA’s Lifetime Achievement Award and The Guild of Beer Writers’ Brewer of the Year title in 2013.
Hugely knowledgeable, Derek’s passion is palpable: ‘I believe right now is the most exciting time to be a brewer in the 40-odd years
that I’ve been in the industry.’ This excitement continues to brew new products: the past year has seen several, including the launch of Copper North American Ale; Wimbledon 1889 – created for AFC Wimbledon; Windmill Pale – an oatmeal pale ale designed with Suffolk powerhouse Greene King and, most recently, a winter collection of ‘small’ and strong beers with a nod to the brewery’s Victorian roots and beer styles.
Wimbledon’s beers have found favour not only with more than 700 pub venues, but also with some of Britain’s leading luxury hotels, private clubs, Michelin-starred restaurants and respected food columnists. ‘After all, it’s not just beer,’ says Richard Coltart, sales director. ‘It’s beer for the discerning drinker, who appreciates the subtleties and delights of great craftsmanship.’
This is borne out by exciting gastronomic collaborations, including an exclusive beer for Covent Garden eatery Margot; artisan bread by Millers Bespoke Bakery; and soft-textured beer cheese made by the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company.
Adding to an already impressive roster of stockists – Langan’s Brasserie, The Ivy, the Hurlingham Club, The Queen’s Club, the All England Lawn Tennis Club, RAC, Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse and InterContinental London Park Lane – are Marks & Spencer and Waitrose; listings with The Wine Society, The Vintner and Haynes Hanson & Clark; a month-long showcase in British Airways’ first and concorde lounges at Heathrow; and being named Official Beer Partner to royal gunmaker James Purdey & Son. A few more phoenix feathers in the cap of a small craft brewery on the rise.
WIMBLEDON BREWERY PRINCE GEORGE’S ROAD, LONDON, SW19 2PT +44 (0)20 3674 9786