Growing up during the 80s I was obsessed with ‘Eastenders’ – from barrow-boy Pete Beale’s booming calls to “come get yer apples n’ pears” to roaming Roly’s numerous escape attempts from Albert Square (and with Dirty Den as his master who could blame him?), Tuesday and Thursday evenings were spent propped in front of the small screen absorbing every aspect of East End life. The hub of that community and a large part of the show’s enduring attraction for me was ‘The Queen Vic’ pub, a place where locals gathered for a pint with their mates after work or sank their sorrows after yet another relationship breakdown. Central to the programme’s appeal was larger-than-life landlady Angie Watts with a grin befitting her surname and a cheery disposition for her customers which helped to shape one of my early career aspirations – imagine my delight when some 30 years’ later (give or take a few years!) I finally got the opportunity to fulfil a childhood dream by pulling my first-ever pint as part of JCI Barnsley’s Acorn Brewery tour!
17 members from JCI chambers across the Yorkshire region piled into the brewery plant in Wombwell to learn about the various stages in the brewing process – from selecting the malted barley and flavoured hops right through to fermentation, resulting in the gleaming glass of golden goodness before us. Paul, our host for the evening, invited us to sample a trio of Acorn’s most popular beers – Barnsley Bitter, Barnsley Gold and Yorkshire Pride – which were arranged on a specially designed mini-bar complete with pumps for thirsty punters to pull their own pints – I needed a little instruction at first but by the end of the session I was an old pro’ and this ‘hands-on’ interactive approach helped to make everyone feel at ease leading up to the main tour and added a personal touch.
During the tour we explored the facilities crucial to the brewing operation, e.g. the large vats where the beer is fermented, and learned about the production process which results in an impressive 30,000 pints of ale being produced every week! Acorn’s best-selling beer ‘Barnsley Bitter’ is so popular that it is now being exported to Italy, something which I am very proud of as a supporter of local businesses and I would like to think that Acorn Brewery could make a valuable contribution to the craft ale revolution that is gaining momentum across Europe at the moment.
In addition to their ‘core’ range of beers, Acorn Brewery also work with local businesses and organisations to produce limited edition beers to mark special occasions – ‘Centurion Gold’, the beer of JCI UK National Conference 2015 held in Barnsley, was one of their creations and they have also recently produced ‘Paint It Red’ to celebrate Barnsley Football Club’s success in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final. We were lucky to be treated to an exclusive viewing of ‘Live In Barnsley’ which was launched that day to coincide with the annual town centre music festival – with a donation of all sales benefitting local charities it is clear that Acorn take their social responsibilities seriously and I was only too happy to buy a couple of bottles to help the cause.
Overall I felt the tour was well-organised and Paul was a knowledgeable host who engaged easily with his audience, explaining information clearly whilst also providing plenty of opportunities to ask questions. The pie and pea supper served up afterwards was delicious and devoured by everyone who attended – just the thing to soak up the ale!
Emma Labedzki, 11th July 2016
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Jo Mackfall