Wye Valley Brewery, Dorothy Goodbody's Country Ale
Rich, wholesome and sweet, with hints of raisin and port; it’s a delicious strong, balanced, smooth bitter.
Wye Valley Brewery is based not far from us, in Herefordshire, a county more famed for its cider making prowess. The current brewery location (they've had to move twice since being founded in 1985 to cope with demand) is a former Symonds cider plant. Symonds are the folks who invented Scrumpy Jack, now a part of Bulmers, which in turn is owned by Heineken. In order to purchase the site Wye Valley Brewery had to agree to never produce cider there. It was a waste of paper as Peter Amor, the founder of Wye Valley Brewery and ex-Guiness brewer only ever had his eyes set on becoming one of Britain's leading cask ale producing, independent micro-breweries, a feat he has almost certainly achieved since then.
Wye Valley are one of a clutch of breweries formed in the 80s that laid the groundwork for many of the newer breweries over the last 30 years. But Peter Amor did more than just lead the way by brewing great beer. He was also chairman of the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) which has been a key player in the growth of British breweries. In 2002, after completing his brewing training at Young's Brewery in Wandsworth, Peter's son Vernon took over as our managing director.
Herefordshire competes with Kent as the UK's most prestigious hop growing region and Wye Valley make the most of it by sourcing 85% of their hops from farms within a 7 mile radius of the brewery. The water is also drawn from a well on site, although only in the morning as the chemical balance changes by the afternoon. The smallest things matter in brewing.
Whilst the water and hops undoubtedly play their part in what is a special beer this week, it is the malts that take centre stage. Dorothy Goodbody's Country Ale was supposedly inspired by the summer harvest… "fields of barley ripening in the sunshine; hops climbing up bines in late summer" but it's definitely a drink for when that sun has gone down. Rich, wholesome and sweet, with hints of raisin and port; it's a delicious strong, balanced, smooth bitter.
The old school bottle design, reminiscent of the bomber girls drawn on to the noses of World War II aircraft (which we quite like), might lead some to believe this is going to be an old school, brown beer. Think again.