Young's Brewery, Wandsworth
before the dreadful news of 23 May 2006
It's hard to imagine what the brewing landscape would have been without John Young, his firm and his family, past and present. Yes, the Ram Brewery has been on that site since the reign of Queen Elizabeth I - but there have been many other traditional breweries which have lost their way, their heart or their business over the centuries. But not Young's
John Young has been chairman for over four decades and during his stewardship, Young's have remained steadfast to the cause of beer drinkers, publicans and brewers. I may not like his politics but I cherish his company, his estate and his beers.
Wandsworth has the concrete nightmare of the Arndale Centre and a deluge of yuppies flooding into what was a perfectly normal South London manor but nestled in the hell of the one way system is the jewel in Wandsworth's crown that is Young's Brewery. As you sit in the traffic fumes inching past the Brewery Tap, just think that behind the brewery gates lies England's oldest continuously operating brewery, shire horse stables and a small farm - home to Young's Ram both figuratively and literally.
All through the last half of the last century, as other brewers dumped their history and lept onto the keg, lager and nitro-keg bandwagons, Young's has kept the discerning drinker going with two*1 of the finest beers ever brewed: a peerless session bitter (never ordered by name*2) and a heavier, flavour packed Special. And they know how to run an estate, too. Whether old and traditional or newbuild, every Young's house is recognisable as a proper pub with a proper cellarman. Over 4 decades of drinking Young's, I think I have had two pints which were not up to scratch and far too many to count which could be described as perfect.
That's why Young & Co is one of the heroes of British Brewing.
*1 - well probably at least 4 as their Winter Warmer is a world-class Winter Ale and RamRod is something else.
*2 - The pump cliip says "Young's Bitter" but it is always ordered as "pint of Ordinary, please" - as opposed to "Special" which is, as you'd expect, the Special Bitter.