The Windsor & Eton Brewery is relatively “local” to my home in the more western suburbs of London: about 20 minutes’ drive away, if there were absolutely nothing else on the road (that is, only in my dreams). It may be because the brewery’s nearness means I’ve paid more attention to it (and because I signed up to its Facebook page almost as soon as it started, which gave me regular reports of its progress) that I’ve had a distorted view of the W&E’s growth since it started last April. But it seems to have gained a reputation as a solid, consistent performer in a remarkably quick time, with three or four dozen permanent outlets signed up in less than 10 months and another 80 or so pubs and bars as regular customers.
The W&E certainly looks to have grasped the social media idea quickly, gaining more than 2,200 followers on Facebook and keeping its “community” involved with news and competitions – which is how, a little embarrassingly, I came into possession of 10 litres of free Guardsman best bitter. I can’t resist limerick contests, but as a professional writer I probably shouldn’t enter against “civilians”. Still, free beer is free beer, and picking it up was an excellent excuse to visit the brewery, where I managed to blag a quick “tour” from one of the founders, Will Calvert.
“Tour”, of course, with a new small brewery, is almost always an exaggeration: generally you stand in the middle of an enclosed space covering about the same square footage as a semi-detached house and spin round on one heel, and you’ve taken in all there is to see. But every brewery is still different, even though the raw materials and biochemical processes they work with are fundamentally the same, and I never stop enjoying hearing brewers talking about their craft.