British Beer Variety With Wells and Young’s by: Brian Meyer
Few will argue that the brewing history behind British beers is not to be trifled with. The British perfected quite a few of the brewing practices and beer styles that we hold dear today. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that some of the best beers to welcome the fall and winter months come from no other than two brewers from, you guessed it, England.
Wells & Young’s, while producing two different lines of beers are actually one large brewery that calls England its home. This brewery is firmly seated as the largest private brewer in all of England, and is known for their enviable list of beers and even cask ales that are primarily distributed in England. While a British brewer, quite a few of their best beers make it to our shores, and this time of year is the best to experience them.
Sip on Some History
The original Wells and Young’s Brewery started in 1876 when Charles Wells made a drastic career change from being a Chief Officer in the Merchant Navy and bought a brewery with 32 pubs in his hometown of Bedford. The jump in careers was, as the story goes, done to win the trust of his soon-to-be father-in-law as to win his approval in marrying his daughter.
The move was a success and along with being happily married and having many children, Wells went on to steadily grow both the brewery as well as the pubs associated with it into the 1890s, when the brewery produced over 12,500 barrels of beer and had 80 pubs associated with the brewery.
As time went on, Wells’ children, grandchildren, and so on continued to play a vital role in the brewery, helping it expand to other breweries in towns like St. Neots, Newport Pagnall, and Northamption.
Fast forward to today and there are over 200 pubs associated with the brewery and their beers are exported to more than 40 countries around the world. With some of their currently-offered beers having been brewed for 200 years and counting, Wells and Young’s seems to be doing something right.
The brewery today is still owned by the Wells family, and the family continues to grow, making sure there are more than enough family members to continue carrying on the family tradition for years to come.
So where does the Young’s part of the brewery name come in? Well, in 2006 The Wells Brewery merged with Young and Co. of Wandsworth in London to officially become Wells and Young’s. IT was this merger than made the brewery the largest family-owned brewery in the UK, and it’s why we can get so many amazing beers here today.
While Wells and Young’s offers a lengthy list of amazing beers, we’re going to focus on some of the most apt beers for the coming season. With tastes of chocolate, toffee pudding, banana bread, and even a traditional bitter from England, these beers fit into the change of seasons perfectly.
It’s worth noting that nearly every beer mentioned below save Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale are all available year-round. They just tend to be even better when it starts to get chilly.
Wells Bombardier – An iconic beer that’s loaded with real British heritage, Bombardier is a rich and full-bodied beer that’s reminiscent of classic English cask ales, but in a bottle. Bombardier has a medium copper color that features aromas of peppery English hops and malty, bready aromas with a slight caramel note.
The taste is focused on a sharp earthy hop profile that’s supported by a solid dose of malt to balance it out. Made in the traditional English Extra Special Bitter style, Bombardier is perfect for year-round drinking and is available as such. Bombardier is available in the US and is 5.2% ABV.
Bonus: In English advertisements and online, comedy legend Rik Mayall plays the Bombardier in a variety of hilarious ads that are perfectly suited for his style of Young Ones comedy.
Wells Banana Bread Beer – Who doesn’t love the smell of a warm loaf of banana bread cooking in the oven? Better yet, the taste of that amazing bread is enough to make your mouth water. Wells took this idea and combined it with their traditional beers to make something that truly is the best of both.
With a ripe banana flavor and a hint of bitterness, banana bread beer keeps all the banana flavor and aroma without being overly sweet. The aroma is all bready banana thanks to the malt profile mixing with the real fair-trade bananas used in the brewing process. The taste is a perfect blend of banana, malt, and a hint of hops. Each works with the other to give a blended, balanced taste that isn’t too harsh in any direction. Banana Bread beer is available year-round and comes in at 5.2% ABV.
Wells Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale – The only seasonal offering in this list, Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale is just about exactly what you think it is. An amazing beer that captures the tastes of sticky toffee pudding and distills it down into a beer that is easy to consider a desert beer.
Combining something so quintessential to the British desert landscape as sticky toffee pudding with British beer seems to not only make sense, but to be a match made in the heavens. Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale is a rich, smooth beer that has all the warmth and aromas of its namesake desert without being overly sweet.
An English brown ale at heart, this beer pours a medium brown with a slight off-white head. The aroma is full of toffee and sweet pudding notes, with the taste carrying these notes over, without too much sweetness. The beer is dry on the finish, allowing you to drink more than one at a time without getting a sugar rush.
Wells Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale is available in the Fall and Winter months, and is 5% ABV.
Young’s Double Chocolate Stout – The most award-winning beer in this list, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout is a year-round beer that’s perfect for the folder weather coming. Brewed with pale, crystal, and chocolate malt as well as real dark chocolate and traditional British hops, Double Chocolate Stout is definitely a beer anyone who loves stouts or chocolate needs to try.
This beer pours totally opaque with a foamy tan head. Expect to get lots of malty chocolate on the aroma with that chocolate carrying through to the taste. Toasty chocolate with a hint of hops come through in the outstanding beer that finished creamy with no lasting bitterness, only a want to have another.
Young’s Double Chocolate Stout is available year-round and comes in at 5.2% ABV.
Wells and Young’s can be found on draft as well as in bottles and cans throughout the Pittsburgh area, and is proudly distributed by Frank B. Fuhrer Wholesale.