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Christmas in London

Facing up to success

Beers of real character owe their existence to brewers with the same attribute. John Young has often been told that he is crazy, fighting to maintain the independence of his family brewery in London, England.

Young, who is 79, was in robust mood when I encountered him recently. He had undergone surgery two days earlier but his immediate preoccupation was that, after "almost a whole minute" in the brewery's sample room, he had not been offered a beer. He was quickly furnished with a glass of Young's malty, toasty, Winter Warmer. His other concern had been that he could no longer deliver Christmas cards personally to each of Youngs' pubs in London. It didn't seem to be an issue of age or health - just that the number of Young's pubs has doubled to 200 in recent years.

Masked man
Who's that masked man with John Young?
Masked man revealed
It's Michael Jackson, holding a four-pack that comes with a special bonus

The endlessly determined, resourceful, Mr Young had found a solution; he had arranged for his likeness to be printed as a mask. Whoever delivers Christmas cards is required to wear a John Young mask. Such is my admiration for the Youngs' spirit that I donned a mask myself. The brewery has responded by marketing a four-pack of assorted Young's products in which there is also a copy of my new Great Beer Guide.

And, yes, the four-pack does include the dazzlingly hoppy Special London Ale (rated as a world classic in my latest Pocket Guide), as well as Old Nick Barley Wine, Double Chocolate Stout and Waggledance Honey Beer (made by Young's since the closure of Vaux). The four-pack is currently in Sainsbury stores in Britain.

Next weekend, more on winter beers, including this year's Vintage Ale from London's other regional independent brewer, Fuller's.

Published: DEC 24, 2000
In: Beer Hunter Online


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