West Berkshire Branch of CAMRA

Launch of Two Cocks Brewery Gibbet Ale at the Crown and Garter, Inkpen.

The evening of Wednesday 7 March was voting time at the Crown & Garter, Inkpen Common. The ballot was to pick a version of a beer brewed by the Two Cocks Brewery as a house ale for the pub to be named Gibbet Ale.

There was less space and more people in the Crown & Garter than usual as the table opposite the bar had been requisitioned as an extra bar with casks of beer from Two Cocks Brewery: 1643 Cavalier, a golden ale; 1643 Roundhead, a bitter and 1643 Puritan, a new stout. There were more people as news of the tasting event had obviously spread. As well as the locals and a group from West Berkshire CAMRA there were some North Hampshire CAMRA members who had travelled from Basingstoke to take part.

New arrivals were warmly greeted by Mike and Phil, the two brewers, before being directed to the busy main bar. Each person was then served two small glasses of a golden bitter from handpumps with temporary Gibbet ale pumpclips marked ‘1’ or ‘2’. The important task was now to taste both beers and mark on a slip of paper the favoured number before placing it in the ballot box on the bar. When it seemed that no more people could be packed in to the pub, landlady Gill Hern gave a short talk to give the background for the name of the new beer.

Mike and Phil from Two Cocks Brewery join Crown & Garter Landlady Gill Hern behind the bar. An anonymous drinker (right) casts their vote!

The gibbet, standing on the top of nearby Combe Down, was only used once, in 1676, to hang George Broomham and Dorothy Newman. The two bodies were then laid out in ‘Gibbet Barn’ at the Crown and Garter Inn. It was this historical association that led to the name and not, as one customer jokingly suggested, due to any connection with a hangover! Gill also thanked Chris Keene, a local professional photographer, who provided the atmospheric pumpclip image of Combe Gibbet.

Phil then gave a brief talk about Two Cocks Brewery which began brewing at Christmas Farm, Enborne, in October 2011, using water from a new borehole and wild hops from the hedgerows. The farm is on the site of a Roundhead encampment in 1643. Michael then mentioned that the difference between the two versions of Gibbet ale was due to the slightly different combination of malts used with aromatic malt added for ‘2’. Finally, Phil advised that Christmas Farm is now licensed to sell their beers in bottles or 5 litre aluminium kegs. Everyone was then invited to sample their other beers from the casks that had been racked that morning.

Meanwhile, the votes were being counted and it was announced that ‘1’ had beaten ‘2’ by 43 to 33 votes. The temporary ‘Gibbet 1’ covering was now removed to reveal Chris Keene’s pumpclip design underneath.
‘1’ had been Geoff Grayer’s choice but the brewers told him that they preferred ‘2’. Geoff suggested that either version would have been a worthy choice for the new Gibbet Ale.

Photographer Chris Keene by the pumpclip he designed.

Gill has found that since the launch, Gibbet Ale, a 3.8% ABV session ale, has proved very popular at the Crown & Garter. A visit to this historic pub, featured in the Good Beer Guide, the only place to find Gibbet Ale, is strongly recommended.

The Two Cocks Brewery website can be found at www.christmas-farm.com

The Crown and Garter's website can be found at www.crownandgarter.co.uk

Chris Keene's Photography website can be found at www.KeeneEyes.com