What do you think is Trip Advisor’s #1 rated visitor attraction in Hampshire? Could it be the National Motor Museum or maybe the New Forest Wildlife Park? Nope. These fine attractions can’t compete with one particular place, the Ringwood Brewery.
After completing a tour of the brewery, I can see why. It’s obvious really. None of the other attractions readily ply you with alcohol. It’s no ordinary brew either.
The Ringwood Brewery
The brewery was founded by the ‘godfather of micro brewing’, Peter Austin in 1978. The master of master brewers has since helped micro-breweries from all over the world produce beer to his very exacting standards.
Sadly Mr Austin died on New Year’s day 2014, he was 92. His legacy is the hundreds of breweries he helped start. His spirit is even now flowing from his flagship brewery, Ringwood, which is still creating his fine ales on the banks of the River Avon on the edge of the New Forest.
Monty Python and the Holy Ale
Monty Python’s Terry Jones commissioned Peter to start a brewery for him on the Welsh borders. Terry is a real ale aficionado and was saddened by the state of the brewing industry in the seventies. Six huge breweries owned it all. It was very difficult to get a good pint anywhere. After the commercial success of ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’, and the rather steep 84 pence in a pound tax rates of the day, he thought it would be a good idea to start a real ale brewery, so he did. Peter was the man Terry called on to help setup this new venture. So enthused with the the success of the Penryhos Brewery, Peter decided to create his own in Ringwood, his home town.
There must be something in the water
Did I mention that there is alcohol provided during the tour? Well, I blame this for my poor recollection of the facts and in particular the chemistry involved. However, I do recall, something about Calcium and maybe some other chemicals which imbue the River Avon with certain qualities particularly well suited to brewing ale. I will call it magic. This magic combined with Mr Austin’s engineering excellence and hard work meant that within a couple of years Ringwood Brewery’s Old Thumper started winning awards. The rest as they say is history and they currently produce 40000 barrels of crafted ale a year.
If you take a tour you will be able to answer the following questions:
- Why is Ringwood’s Best Bitter called “Best”?
- Why is one brewing tank called “Copper” when it is clearly made of stainless steel?
- Where did the name FortyNiner come from?
- What is a BoonDoggle?
- Why pub landlords particularly like beers with a ‘bitter’ taste?
A grand tour
We were expertly guided safely around the brewery by Steve, who not only had a wealth of knowledge of the subject but also a good sense of humour too. During the introduction we were encouraged to have a half or two of Best Bitter before the tour began in ernest.
The taste of Ringwood
From there we got to taste the “Tipple” barley, smell the hops and even put our head in the tanks where the Ringwood beer was brewed. Then in a guided tasting session in the brewery bar afterwards our thirsts were well and truly quenched. We were encouraged to try the distinctive flavours and qualities of Ringwood’s Best Bitter, FortyNiner, Old Thumper and BoonDoggle and even got a half-pint glass to keep. Great value.
After about 2 hours from entering the Ringwood Brewery I was on my merry way home clasping some takeaways from the Brewery Store so that I could continue my research at home. It’s a tough job. The brewery store sell bottles, t shirts and other merchandise and the most excellent Ringwood Beer on draught!
I too will also give the Ringwood Brewery Tour a full five stars at Trip Advisor. Disney Land has nothing on Ringwood.
View our Ringwood Brewery Tour Image Gallery.