Where do we get our beer names?
With the exception of a couple, all our beer names are influenced by local literature, folkore, events, persons of note, places and even wildlife. It’s just one of the things we do to create another connection with the region.
Side Pocket for a Toad
An old Hertfordshire saying alluding to the uselessness of anything, somewhat akin to the “chocolate teapot” phrase. Although now sadly passed into disuse, we at Tring Brewery are leading a failing campaign to restore this wonderful old expression to its rightful place in popular parlance. Sadly most people just ask for a pint of Toad, Side Pocket and sometimes ‘that beer with the frog on it!’.
In days gone by, every English county had its parishes set aside for fools and the dull-witted and Hertfordshire was no exception. The folks of Wormley and Cheshunt called their neighbours in Stanstead Abbots ‘Soppy’. In the east of the county, the people of Broxbourne were not only called ‘Badgers’ because the animals were seen going down to the river Bourne to drink or for the play on words (Brock being a badger), but also for their slow-moving ways.
At Tring Brewery we would like to make it clear that we do not think the people of Wormley and Cheshunt are ‘soppy’ and that we have observed many habitants of Broxbourne move really quite fast…especially if there’s a pint of Tring Brewery’s finest available at the bar.
Tring Park House was originally built to a design of Sir Christopher Wren in 1685 and was visited several times by Charles II. Sir William Gore, Lord Mayor of London bought the house in 1705 and it remained in his family for two subsequent generations. In 1786, it was sold to Sir Drummond Smith, a London banker, who refurbished the interior in Georgian style and remodelled the park in the fashion made popular by “Capability” Brown.
William Kay, a Manchester textile magnate, bought the estate in 1823 and in 1838, Nathan de Rothschild began renting Tring Park as a summer residence. When the property was sold in 1872, Lionel de Rothschild bought it as a wedding present for his son, Sir Nathaniel (later Lord) de Rothschild.
Lord Rothschild’s family grew up and lived at Tring Park until the death of the dowager Lady Rothschild in 1935. The house was used by the NM Rothschild & Sons bank during World War II before being taken over by the Arts Educational School (re-named Tring Park School for the Performing Arts) in 1945.
This was the first beer brewed by us back in 1992 and remains ever popular. It is named after the Ridgeway National Trail, which passes 87 miles (139km) through ancient landscapes. Over rolling, open downland to the west of the River Thames, and through secluded valleys and woods in the Chilterns to the east. It is the same route used since prehistoric times by travellers, herdsmen and soldiers. For thousands of years, people, be they drovers, traders or invaders, have walked or ridden the Ridgeway.
As part of a prehistoric track, once stretching about 250 miles (400 km) from the Dorset coast to the Wash on the Norfolk coast, it provided a route over the high ground for travellers which was less wooded and drier than routes through the springline villages below. New Stone Age men, the first farmers in Britain, left the earliest remains. Their long barrows can be found at a few places both west and east of the River Thames.
It was Bronze Age people from later times, around 2,000 BC, however, who dragged the huge sarsen stones from the surrounding hills and formed the dramatic Avebury Circle. There are many of their round burial barrows along the length of the Trail. Hill forts built during the Iron Age from about 500 BC until the Romans arrived in 43 AD are also found both sides of the Thames. These forts command the high ground and in several places they defended the Ridgeway against attack from the north.
In the Dark Ages The Ridgeway was a main route for the Saxons and Vikings who fought many battles during their advances into Wessex. In medieval times, it was drovers driving livestock from Wales and the West Country to the Home Counties, not armies, who used the Ridgeway. Until the Enclosure Acts of 1750, the Ridgeway was a broad band of tracks along the crest of the downs where travellers chose the driest or most convenient path. During Enclosures, the exact course and width of the Ridgeway was defined by the building of earth banks and the planting of thorn hedges to prevent livestock straying into the newly cultivated fields.
Drop Bar Pale Ale
The rolling hills of the Chilterns provide the perfect environment for all kinds of cyclists. On road or off, a relaxed ride to the brewery or tackling the long distance 170 mile Chiltern Cycleway, there’s something for everyone. For the last two years, both the men’s and women’s Tour of Britain have passed through Tring, highlighting the quality of the regions cycling infrastructure. The area is becoming a mecca for cyclists and beer lovers alike – maybe this is why you’ll see our name on the riding tops of local clubs and our beer on the podium at local races. The next time you’re looking for a light, refreshing pint, head for the bar….the Drop Bar.
Moongazing was originally one of our monthly beers back in 2010. Reinstated as core beer at the end of 2012 due to its popularity, the beer continues to gain more fans. The name is taken from a poem written by Edward Lear that features in a collection of his works from 1812 – 1888 called ‘The Book of Nonsense’
TRING by Edward Lear
There was an Old Person of Tring,
Who embellished his nose with a ring;
He gazed at the moon
Every evening in June,
That ecstatic Old Person of Tring.
Pondering his recent run of bad luck, John Butterfield of Tring came to the conclusion that he was bewitched. Remembering an old dispute he had with a local woman Ruth Osbourne, it wasn’t long before he had roused enough local feeling to implicate her in a witch-hunt. Despite valiant attempts to hide, Ruth and her husband John were soon apprehended by a mob led by one Thomas Colley – a local chimney sweep.
The couple were dragged to Long Marston, near Tring, where they were bound and thrown into the pond, the standard test for a witch. Old and frail, the Osbournes died from their ordeal, but it was not long before the forces of justice caught up with the ringleader. On August 24, 1751, Colley was gibbeted for his crimes at Gubblecote Cross where ever since, his spirit roams in the form of a huge black dog.
Tea Kettle Stout
In days past, the shape of the county of Hertfordshire resembled (with a little imagination!) a tea kettle. Tring was positioned right up the spout!
Death or Glory
Death or Glory takes it’s name from the regimental motto of the Queen’s Royal Lancers and was first brewed back in the early 90’s after the idea for the beer was conceived by a member of the brewery, Kerr Hill, a former Lancer himself. Ever since, it has traditionally been brewed every year on October 25th to commemorate the anniversary of the Charge of the Light Brigade, when in 1854 the 17th Lancers made their fateful charge into the Valley of Death.
The Queen’s Royal Lancers was formed in 1993 by the amalgamation of the 16th/5th and 17th/21st Lancers. The regiment’s Colonel-in-Chief is Her Majesty the Queen.
In 2007, we were approached by the QRL’s to see if we would bottle the beer for the Officers and Sergeants Mess. We were delighted, so by special appointment to the Queen’s Royal Lancers, we now offer Death or Glory ale in 330ml bottles. The strength of 7.2% abv comes from the fact Kerr Hill was part of the 17th/21st Lancers.
Here’s another Pale Ale. This time it’s an American West Coast style, packed with three big hitting hops from North America and one from Australia…and that folks is why it’s called Pale Four. Those of you who have read the bottle label, will notice this beer was brewed in collaboration with BEERShop St Albans, in response to comments suggesting Tring Brewery could not produce a hoppy beer. Well we did. Now everyone’s happy.
In 2016 our monthly specials were themed around De Havilland aircraft. Why? Well, De Havilland was originally based just up the road from here in Hatfield and whilst the factory and offices are gone there is a museum dedicated solely to this great manufacturer, just outside St Albans.
The museum stands on the site that De Havilland purchased to develop the now famous Mosquito and houses 3 Mosquito aircraft, one of which is the restored prototype. The museum has a variety of historically significant aircraft, some of which are suffering as a result of exposure to the elements. To counter this problem the museum is raising funds for a new hangar and improvements to the site a project we were proud to be part of. Hummingbird was one of the most popular of the monthly specials, so much so, that we’ve reintroduced it as our winter seasonal special.
Bring Me Sunshine
Brewed as a tribute to the late great Eric Morecambe (1926–1984). Hertfordshire was fortunate to have him live in the county for a number of years.
As a resident of Harpenden, he was always willing to make appearances at charity or community events. He had played golf at the local club, shopped in the local high street and gave the town many a mention in his comedy routines. He was not only a national treasure, but also a legend in Hertfordshire. Bring Me Sunshine was the first pint poured and used to toast the opening of the 2012 Towcester Beer Festival by Eric’s daughter Gail Morecambe.
Fanny Ebbs Summer Ale
This is the strange tale of a woman who bought a sweet shop in Lilley, near Hitchin. There were rumours in the village of strange happenings in the sweet shop and one night, whilst in bed, Fanny Ebbs encountered the source of this mystery. Through the opposite wall, appeared the ghost of a man; it appeared not to notice her. She followed it down the stairs, where the ghost removed the hearth bricks from the fireplace to reveal a hiding place. It pulled out a large black kettle and removed the lid. The kettle was full of gold sovereigns and the ghost proceeded to count them on to the hearth before counting them back in again. He then took out another black pot, which was again full of sovereigns. He counted them out and back again as before and then replaced both the pots.
The following morning, thinking it was a dream, Fanny lifted the hearth bricks and to her surprise she found the treasure. Removing all the coins, she replaced the pots as she had found them. The next time the ghost appeared it went through the bedroom wall, down the stairs and to the fireplace. Finding that his hidden treasure had been found he vanished never to return. Instead of living a life of luxury on her find, Fanny Ebbs continued to run her sweet shop often giving children more sweet than they had asked for or more money in change than the value of the goods. When she died she left the remainder of her fortune to the village – a truly charitable lady!
Our Autumnal seasonal special brewed to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Britain and acknowledge the regions significant contribution in respect to pilots, infrastructure and manufacturing.
Santa’s Little Helper
In honour of the little helpers that help the ‘big guy’ look good at Christmas. Sounds a bit like a brewery I know!
2017 monthly specials