/ The London Traveler
London — By Andrea Kirkby on June 23, 2010 at 4:11 pm
Filed under: beer, featuredarticle

London Brew: Fullers Griffen Brewery

Fullers London Pride is not my favourite beer, by a very long way. Another beer beats it hands down. A spectacular, very rare, hardly ever seen on draught, high alcohol, aged, amazing beer. Fullers Vintage.

Fortunate for me then that they both come from the same brewery… and  that it does tours! Unfortunately, they don’t have a truck with Fullers Vintage livery, which is why the photo features my less favoured beer rather prominently.

Fullers‘ Griffin Brewery (you may just be able to see the golden griffin that sits on top of the London Pride label) sits on the Great West Road, just off the Hogarth roundabout – on the way to Heathrow, so if you’ve taken a taxi to or from the airport you’ve probably been past the brewery and may even have noticed it in passing. Fullers has been brewing since 1845, and there’s been a brewery on this site for even longer – though the operations you’ll see on a tour are now thoroughly modern, the brewery retains much of its old equipment and some tranquil corners, including the oldest wisteria in the country, an amazing plant that if you visit in May or June will be covered in a drift of mauve flowers.

Unlike many breweries, Fullers seems to have a policy of always using a brewer as a tour guide (or have my friends and I just always been lucky?). So they really, really know their stuff – not just the theory (which if you’ve homebrewed is not much of mystery) or the basics of the process, but all kinds of information like what style of hopping to use for golden ales or what mix of malts you need to create a proper London Porter. So if you’re a homebrewer or a real ale aficionado, this is definitely the brewery trip to take.

It’s also interesting to be able to compare the old machinery which is still in situ with the new (1990s and later) equipment. The process is broadly the same but it’s impressive to see just how much more control brewers now have over such variables as temperature.

The tour takes about two hours and there’s a tasting afterwards – though you don’t get the full Fullers and Gales range; there are usually four or five beers on, depending on the season. But the brewery shop is worth a visit, particularly for people like me who like the Vintage – it’s the closest that any beer in the world comes to having the full complexity of a really good old port or madeira, I think, and by gum I don’t half love it when Norwich beer festival rolls around if they’ve got a firkin or two of Fullers Vintage loaded up on the stillage!

You’ll need to book a tour via the website – they run on demand and need at least four people to make them happen. However, if you’re on your own, you can ask if there are any tours partly made up that you could join – as long as they’ve got that first four they’ll happily add extra people on.

Tours cost £10. I reckon that’s pretty good value for money – but save some money for a few pints at the dual-named Mawson Arms/Fox and Hounds next door, which – as you might have guessed – serves a very decent pint of Fullers!

Photo by Bernt Rostad on flickr

Tags: beer, featuredarticle

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