For those with an interest in beer seeing a brewery adds an extra level to the drinking experience and some breweries such as Wadworth’s really open themselves up to let people see the inner workings of the brewing process.
Wadworth is a historic brewery and puts a lot of importance in that fact, there has been brewing by Wadworth at the site since 1875 and the current building, the Northgate Brewery, was built by their founder Henry Wadworth in 1885. The company is family run and has remained so with the ownership being passed on to the Bartholomew family when Henry Wadworth died leaving no male heir, Bartholomew was Wadworth’s life long friend, partner and brother-in-law. The brewery remains with the Bartholomew family today.
The brewery is housed within the impressive red brick building of the Northgate Brewery. Brewing takes place on the floors starting at the top and using gravity in processing the beer downwards.
Much of the equipment used today is the original plant put in by Henry Wadworth, within the Devizes area Wadworth beers are still delivered using the traditional two-horse drawn drays and Wadworth is one of only four breweries to still have a cooper with the last remaining Master Cooper working at Wadworth making their wooden casks – some Wadworth pubs still receive their beer in the wood.
In addition to their master cooper Wadworth have their own on site sign writing team who create all of the Wadworth pubs signs, this is in my opinion a valuable asset to the brand of Wadworth and is of course a skill which should be preserved and cherished.
Within the brewery are two mash tuns which feed the coppers one of which is still the open topped copper fitted in 1885. Although some of the brewery has been modernised, brewing is still conducted using the original equipment especially for Wadworth’s Beer Kitchen range of speciality beers.
The image of people throwing bags of hops into the open topped copper as the beer below boils will appeal to those who like beer and brewing, for those less familiar with the process the tour gives all the information you need to understand how Wadworth beer is brewed.
Recently Wadworth have installed a new brew-house within the Northgate site, this was to meet the increasing demand for their beers. When it was installed they did not inform the public and it was not noticed that the equipment had changed. The new equipment is impressive considering the care which was needed to install it into the old brewery and of course the increased capacity means more Wadworth beer.
Wadworth try to brew with as local ingredients as possible, this should be admired as it keeps brewing and the supporting industry within the UK and it maintains the traditional flavours and styles. Not that I am opposed to the new styles becoming more prevalent but it is nice to be able to get a pint of fine quality bitter when you want one.
For those not familiar with Wadworth’s range of beers here is a quick run-down of the more common ones:
Wadworth’s most well known beer, 6X is a ruddy brown bitter full of sweet maltyness. 6X is a go-to beer for many a Wadworth’s drinker and many people speak of this beer fondly.
The Wadworth standard bitter named after their founder Henry Wadworth it has a pleasant well balanced maltyness and is a good session beer.
The Bishop’s Tipple
A deep golden beer and fairly strong both in ABV and flavour has a nice bitter hoppy end, not one to be underestimated.
One of Wadworth’s lightest beers in colour, a gold beer that is very enjoyable as a summer refreshment or as a session beer instead of the Henry’s.
Different Wadworth seasonal beers are available though the year, I am particularly partial to Malt and Hops, a beer brewed with green hops. The logistics of brewing this beer are interesting as the hops have to be gathered from the tine in the morning, ready for being added to the boil that day – but the tangy hopiness that this imparts to the beer is, in my opinion, worth the effort.
At the end of the tour is a tutored tasting of the Wadworth range of beers, as this is in the visitors centre the beer is in top condition. For those who have not attended a tasting before then this in combination with the tour of the brewery really would increase their appreciation of beer. For myself it was a good opportunity to line up the different Wadworth beers and compare them.
We also had the opportunity to try Red White and Brew, Wadworths 2012 summer celebration beer, you can read my review of this beer in an article here.
For more information on Wadworth, it’s range of beers and where you can try them visit their website
The tours of the brewery are open to the public and run daily, check the Wadworth brewery tour website for details. I would highly recommend a tour, the brewery a good example of traditional brewing and it has lots of history associated with it and the surrounding town of Devizes.