Everards has been part of the British brewing landscape since 1849, when co-founder William Everard – sporting facial hair many 21st century beer lovers would be proud of – started brewing in Leicester. A few years later, Everards moved production to England’s beer capital, Burton-on-Trent, where it brewed at the Tiger Brewery (as it was later known) for over 100 years, before relocating to Leicester again in 1982. Today Everards remains an independent company, owned by the Everard family, with around 180 pubs across the Midlands. And the Everards team are busy plotting the next chapter: a proposed multi-million pound Leicestershire food and drink park, home to a new state-of-the-art brewery and orbited by other food and drink businesses.
So what of Tiger Best Bitter? Everards’ most famous beer was first brewed when Donny Osmond and T Rex were topping the charts in 1972. It’s 4.2%, amber-coloured and brewed with balance in mind. It’s got a certain toffee character and some believe it’s the perfect match for Melton Mowbray pork pies. Like Leicester’s famous rugby club (over 122,000 pints of it are quaffed at Welford Road each season), Tiger is named after a local army regiment that served in India in the early 1800s, christened ‘Tigers’ after their long service.
The man in charge of producing Tiger is Graham Giblett, a Scot who has been with Everards for 28 years – 25 as head brewer. Before that, he spent 12 years with Edinburgh’s now-closed Drybrough Brewery. For Graham, a well-brewed beer should be nicely balanced and moreish. “I like a session brew that you want to drink more of,” he says. “I also enjoy a nicely balanced and hoppy – but not over the top – IPA.” Graham believes the brewing industry is unique and “especially loves the camaraderie and information shared between counterparts from other breweries, maltsters and hop merchants”.
Talking of sharing, now’s a good time to mention Everards’ ‘Project William’, which has seen Everards team up with local microbrewers – 10 so far. The thinking behind Project William goes like this: back in 1849, Everards’ Victorian founder William was an up-and-coming brewer who needed help to make it. Today, many small brewers are trying to succeed like William was, and if some are to exist in 165 years’ time, they need help too. But Everards also needs help – assistance to run its 180-odd pubs and to bring in fresh ideas. So if Everards works in partnership with energised, first-generation microbrewers, everybody wins.
So what Everards has done is buy, refurbish and rent out brewery taps to up-and-coming brewers. But rather than placing ‘Everards’ signs all over the building, the tenant can brand the pub as their own and sell a varied selection of beers, many of them locally brewed. Which is exactly what the customer wants. Now that is a Tiger of an idea.
This week's write-up was provided by Matt Wright, our mate and founder of Leicestershire-based Great Food Club & Mag.