The February 2015 Social Outing
The party of members and guests met our guide Jill in the shade of the oldest Wisteria in the country which was brought over to England in 1816 from China and was planted next to the then head brewerís cottage and which is now the general office.
That plant set the tone of the visit as beer has been brewed on Fullerís historic Griffin Brewery site since the sixteenth century. The first recorded use of the name Griffin Brewery in Chiswick dates from 1816 when one of the owners of the company at the time acquired the name from the failed brewery Meux and Reid in Clerkenwell. Further financial misfortunes befell the company until John Bird Fuller was approached for financial assistance and took full control of it in 1845 Ė the ďFounding DateĒ. Eventually his son joined the partnership which was later dissolved and finally the now well established business was formed in 1929 when Smith and Turner came on board and it became a Limited Company.
The company operates over 380 pubs, inns and hotels across the south of England and is the last remaining family brewers in London. It is on this site in Chiswick that all Fullerís Beers are produced. Integral to the building is the Quality Assurance Department which has strictly limited access.
The tour continued up staircases to half floors and along walkways through narrow arches past bronze coppers and wooden casks and the brewing equipment of yesteryear which is lovingly preserved.
All this is interspersed with modern stainless steel coppers which are computer controlled complete with gauges and protected windows for observing the contents and a network of outflowing pipes of varying diameters. Nevertheless the traditional methods and techniques of brewing are carefully observed.
It is in these vessels that some of Fullerís leading brands of beer including ESB, London Pride, Golden Pride and Chiswick Bitter are produced. These multiple brews are made from the same batch of malt and barley which go through various processes which include heat treatment to different temperatures and fermentation and then blending the varying strengths of liquid run offs which are sugary. Yeast, of which only one strain is used for all Fullerís Beers, is added to convert sugar to alcohol. The stronger Golden Pride has the highest alcoholic content [8.5% by volume], Chiswick Bitter has the lowest with 3.5% and ESB [5.0%] and London Pride [4.1%] fall in between.
Descending to ground level we came across the stacks of kegs, casks and bottles ready for placing on the conveyer belts and thence from the fork trucks on to the fleet of covered lorries and vans ready to distribute the various products to those many awaiting.
We then retired to the Hock Cellar where our guide welcomed us to the much anticipated beer tasting and where members of the party could put their new knowledge to the test. The cellar also functions as a museum.
The memorable tour had been packed full of interest and had been excellently conducted by Jill Ridgeon and well organised by David Mayne.
We returned to the Mawson Arms for lunch.
Photographs by Michael Horner
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