John had twenty years experience as a home brewer and had a clear idea as to what style of beer he wished to produce. Having conducted serious market research, including putting questionnaires through around 500 pubs, John began by producing JHB and Old Tosspot. The intense hoppiness of his recipes was in part influenced by his experience as a home brewer, where the quality of hops available was generally poor, and consequently one tended to use far more of them. The choice of varieties was also influenced by the scarcity of Goldings and Fuggles at the time and the suggestion by Mr Paul Corr-Bett of Charles Faram and company that the American varieties of Mount hood and Willamette might be used instead. John chose to use yeast from the Home brewery as he felt it had good flavour producing characteristics.
Early in 1995 Hunky Dory was added to the product range, and the increasingly popular beers were travelling ever further and steadily winning awards, including Nottingham, Lincoln and Peterborough festivals and CAMRA’s Dan Kane award. In the same year John Wood sold the business to Paul Hook, the owner of Charters Bar in Peterborough, and the brewing was taken over by John Bryan, Oakham’s present brewer, who had been working with John Wood for some time and had attended a brewing course in Malton.
In 1996 the brewery was extended into an additional unit on the industrial estate and additional plant and storage were installed, and in the same year Bishop’s Farewell, a special brewed by John Wood for the previous year’s Peterborough beer festival, replaced Hunky Dory in the permanent range.
In 1998 the brewery relocated entirely to Peterborough, into the former Labour exchange on Westgate, where it forms the centre piece of what is now The Brewery Tap, one of Europe’s largest brew-pubs. The new plant was considerably larger than the old, at 35 barrels, and though the change of water caused some early difficulties the brewer insisted that the flavour profiles should remain the same, and his perseverance paid off.
Oakham continued to expand its product range and continued to win ever more awards, including, in 2001, the Supreme Champion Beer of Britain with JHB, which began to be produced in bottle in 2002. Recognising that the increasing popularity of Oakham’s beers would mean that capacity at the Westgate site would eventually prove inadequate; in 2004 the partners invested in a new site in Woodston in Peterborough and set about building a new 75 barrel brewery, involving the same brewery consultant who advised on the previous move, Dr. Dave Smiff of Yorkshire. This new plant is due to be completed in Autumn of 2006 and will finally mean having all the staff on one site, though it is not intended to de-commission the old plant at Westgate, where some of the seasonal beers and smaller brew runs will continue to be produced. As with the previous move, maintaining the same flavour profiles is paramount.
Oakham Ales continues to go from strength to strength, to add to its portfolio of beers and continues to win awards.White Dwarf has a piercing bitterness in this “bright” English style wheat beer, mellowing to reveal fruit overtones amidst a dry as bone finish. A real thirst quencher.
This dazzling pump clip carries the Latin motto for the County of Rutland Multum in Parvo which translates as Much in Little. Rutland is a tiny county consisting of two towns, Oakham (home of the brewery) and Uppingham and can be found in the East Midlands next to Leicestershire and Lincolnshire. It’s motto is fitting when you consider it is just 20 miles across but within it’s boundaries there are more than 50 villages.
- ABV 4.3%