London Beer Quest: Windsor & Eton Brewery, Windsor
Welcome to our ongoing mission to explore what London has to offer the discerning lover of excellent beer – from pubs and retailers that take pride in the quality of their hoppy offerings, to local breweries and beer events. In this instalment, we venture way out West...
Although at first glance the Windsor & Eton brewery may seem a bit - well, outside the M25, this excellent small enterprise is a worthy member of the London Brewers' Alliance and contributed towards its recent London porter. Given that its beers are also available in selected pubs around the capital, Londonist felt amply justified in travelling up the Thames and investigating the most remote outpost of London's beery empire.
The brewery is undoubtedly small, and indeed the physical operation was cobbled together in just 7 weeks in order to have its first beer, Guardsman, available on St George's Day. If that sounds a bit ramshackle, however, don't worry - behind Windsor & Eton is a team of experts ranging from the former head brewer at Courage to the engineer from Mars confectionery; four great chaps who are dedicated to producing excellent heritage beers and having fun in the process. (You can view them all in cartoon form here)
Situated a short train ride away from Waterloo, the compact, thoughtfully laid out brewery is well worth a visit, as much to appreciate the engineering as to sample their three beers - which they will enthusiastically guide you through. Their Guardsman is well on its way to becoming a classic, an oak conditioned bitter that's memorably tangy yet smooth, whereas golden ale Knight of the Garter, made with a special relationship of English and American hops, brings refreshing touches of orange and caramel. Their newest beer, Conqueror, is a black IPA that was inspired by the creations of some of the small American brewers and is brewed with five malts alongside American hops, creating a beer that's oozing with roasted bitter flavours (you'll soon discover that they're huge fans of hops) but also has a pleasant verdant quality that makes it eminently drinkable.
Their beers are available to take away and come in cute mini casks (perfect for a 6 Nations party) as well as in bottles that are filled with the help of the Kernel brewery - something that demonstrates how the London Brewers' Alliance is bearing fruit for its small independent members and allowing them to overcome their lack of space or resources. Incidentally, the beers' flavours do vary slightly as a result of different storage methods, and if you've ever had any questions about cask conditioning or any other part of the fermentation process then these are definitely the right guys to ask.
The Windsor & Eton brewery is already a much-loved part of the community and, happily, seems to be going from strength to strength. We're delighted to be able to claim it as one of London's own and would highly recommend that you drop in next time you pop over to see the Queen.
Last Updated 17 February 2011