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Ramsgate Brewery, Gadds No.5

"Gadds" is The Ramsgate Brewery. Founded by Eddie and Lois Gadd, they have been making and championing great local beer for the last 15 years.

For Eddie, this started way back in 1993 when he was working for the then Firkin chain of brewpubs. A job that took him to Holland and, ultimately to Ramsgate and Broadstairs where he founded the brewery in 2002.

If you speak to anyone working in the beer industry and Eddie’s name gets mentioned then, inevitably, the term “character” gets mentioned. We asked him about this reputation.

“You don’t survive 25 years in this business without being a character,” Eddie responded. He’s got the kind of voice that means you’re never entirely sure whether he’s pulling your leg. “Besides I am an opinionated sod!” 

Not only is Eddie opinionated, he is quite the raconteur when he gets going and has the sort of manner that you quickly warm to. Even if he might be having a joke at your expense. So we asked Eddie about the changes that have been taking place in beer over this time and his observations.

“Brewing was so untrendy for at least the first 15 of those [25] years. If anyone asked you what you did for a living and you told them you were a brewer they wouldn’t ask you anything else. No one drank beer back then.” Then he adds; “Only brewers drank the beer!”

Gadds’ have been making consistently good beer for a decade and a half. Both under their own name and more recently as a contract brewers for other breweries. The contract brewing has been quite the success with several brewing companies scooping up awards for the resulting beers. This side project has also allowed them to let the Gadds’ brand grow slowly and in their own time. They’ve also opened a couple of pubs in Ramsgate. “We didn’t set out to do it but it was difficult to say no.”

If Gadds’ sounds a bit unhurried and not always fashionable then this is a result of Eddie and his team’s deliberate and consistent approach. It probably helped that they were making good beer long before it was so on trend. As Eddie succinctly puts it; “Before it all kicked off we’d developed a clear idea of what we were about.”

As a result, their core beers have been mostly traditional, English ales made with more than a nod to Kent’s brewing heritage. Although there are some more playful beers in their seasonal and limited run beers that show a diversity and appreciation of all things beer it seems that great, traditional beers are at the heart of Gadds’.

“I’ve spent the last 15 years telling people about beer and how to make it as good as me.”

Which brings us on to this week’s beer. Gadds’ No.5. A very traditional best bitter, “Kent’s best” he tells us and; “actually quite complex for me.” Eddie explains that it took them a long time to make this beer as good as it is. “It’s not the easy style of beer to make that some people think it is.”

Originally as part of the brewery’s first birthday celebrations, it soon became a firm favourite and was only bottles when they were asked by a brewing friend in Belgium for a bottle of something quintessentially English.

Now there’s a rumour that the number used in the beer name (3, 5 or 7) actually corresponded to the amount (in pints) that Eddie could consume before the former Mrs Gadds suspected that been on a session. We asked Eddie if this were true only to be told that this was one of three different stories he would tell people when they asked him about his beers. Another tall tale was that the number related to his favourite English batsmen (cricket). Or that it referred to the numbers on the slipways in the harbour at Broadstairs. He then went on to tell us that his wife and father in law were mathematicians and they were into prime numbers. Was he pulling our leg? Who knows, pick your favourite story.

It’s been five years since we last featured a Gadds’ beer in our subscription box so we were interested in what we should look forward to next from them. “You’ll have to ask John” we get told.

John Stringer officially took as the head brewer last year. A job he’d been doing in all but title for a while but has taken Eddie a while to accept. So is Eddie ‘back seat brewing’ or whatever the equivalent is? 

“I am desperately trying not to!” responded Eddie, albeit in a tone that makes me think this might not always be right. “I think I am doing alright”. Hmmmm.

“I am looking forward to seeing what [the brewery] will look like in a few years time.” John has plans. We can expect something new. We’ll have to speak to him next time. Only we promise we won't wait another five years.

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