Published on November 14th, 2014 | by Alastair Gilmour0
Commemorative Beer: Battles and battlers remembered
All through 2014 the nation has been remembering the outbreak of the First World War – it has been 100 years since the prime of our youth marched off to fight across Europe. They said it would be all over by Christmas, but it wasn’t.
Here in the North East, we’ve been commemorating the war with pageants, dramas, exhibitions, remembrance services – and beer. Several of our microbreweries have produced special runs to mark “the war to end all wars”.
The Stables Brewery, based at Beamish Hall, County Durham, has brewed Somme Ale (4.0% abv), a golden bitter made with Munich malt and traditional English Fuggles hops.
“We get the malty, biscuit flavour from the malt which is unusual in this sort of pale beer,” says brewer John Taylor. “From every pint sold we’re donating 10p to the Poppy Appeal.”
The commemorative beer was inspired by brewery assistant Ray Bailey’s grandfather Robert (“Bob”) Bailey, who served in the Royal Naval Reserve (actually an infantry division) at Gallipoli where the allies suffered huge losses, and at Ypres. Ray isn’t sure that he would have been at the battle of The Somme but it’s fairly likely.
“He was injured four times,” says Ray. “He was gassed three times with mustard gas and one of those times he was blinded for three months. He was also shot in the shoulder by a sniper and later couldn’t bend his little finger. He refused a medal – he was just one of those people – and was promoted to King’s Corporal instead, which he accepted.”
After the Great War, Bob Bailey went straight back to the pits around Stanley, County Durham, was a well-known cricket umpire, and even refereed a football match at the age of 76 when he sent off a player for calling him an ‘ould bastard’.”
Another special beer is launched at The Low Lights Tavern in North Shields on November 11 – Armistice Day. Tyneside Tommy (3.9% abv) has been commissioned from Three Kings Brewery by the Tynemouth World War One Commemorative Project with all proceeds generously going to fund the continuing work of this marvellous initiative (www.tynemouthworldwarone.org).
Tyneside Tommy is a traditional English cask ale, triple hopped with Admiral, Fuggles and Goldings varieties. A bottled version will be available next month, slightly stronger at 4.1% abv.
“We’re also promoting a new 52-page book, called The Response, written by Alan Fidler and Ruth Chittenden,” says Dave Grey, a contributor to the Tynemouth project. “It’s a review of the region’s commitment to World War I and it’s being specially packaged with two bottles of Tyneside Tommy as the perfect Christmas gift for granddad – only £10 from selected outlets.”
Meanwhile in Middlesbrough, a social club has renamed its bar in honour of one of the town’s heroes. Stan Hollis was the only soldier to earn a Victoria Cross on D-Day in 1945 and now as a mark of respect, The Longlands Club is renaming its bar the CSM Stanley Hollis VC Bar.
Michael Hill took over the Longlands Club after previously running The Legion club in the town and he felt it was important that it not only continued its links with local regiment The Green Howards but also honoured a brave and highly respected Middlesbrough man. Stanley Hollis’s son Brian unveiled a plaque and a sign outside the club.
Michael Hill said: “The Longlands Club will always be a place where all Green Howards both serving and ex-service will be welcome. We wanted to carry on our association with the regiment.”
The Green Howards regiment has traditionally drawn its recruits from around Middlesbrough, Redcar, Northallerton and Scarborough.