Fuller’s brewery tour with Derek Prentice
It’s a perfectly normal Wednesday in Chiswick, apart from the fact that Derek Prentice, brewery manager at Fuller’s, is waiting for me and some friends at the local Fuller’s pub, the Mawson Arms. He’s invited us down for a tour of this iconic London brewery. What a treat. Armed with cameras we went along to give you all a peek inside their Griffin Brewery.
The visiting group was a mix of experts and amateurs, with Andy Smith and James Garstang from Partizan representing the most knowledgeable of the lot. After a few introductory pints Derek lead us through the brewery gates and into the heart of the operation. The smell was amazing. Rich and yeasty. Over the course of an hour he guided us through both the brewery and the history of Fuller’s. He showed us old mash tuns, the hops storage room, their shiny brewing room, the malt mill, the fermentation tanks – all of it. He even took us into his office to show us a couple of really old brewing books with recipes he’s trying to revive for their Past Master’s series. Throughout the tour he would usher us around, calling us ‘young whippersnappers’, giving us insights into their process while romanticising about the past. Coming out at the other end our heads were filled with brewing terms and plain awe of how Fuller’s are making their beer. It’s a big operation but they’re not taking any shortcuts. It’s just another proof that the term ‘Craft Beer’ is a redundant alias. Fuller’s has been crafting their beer for generations.
Next stop was the Hock Cellar. Part pub, part Fuller’s museum, this hidey-hole is where they keep the good stuff. First Derek treated us to whatever we wanted on cask. I went for an ESB, which was the most refreshing cask ale I’d had in ages, maybe ever. Next he offered up a tasting of their vintage ales, one from 2010 and one from 2012. We even got to take home a bottle of the one we liked the most. We sampled a couple of other treats while chatting the evening away. Before long it was time to make a move homewards.
Derek is a walking fact machine. What he doesn’t know about brewing isn’t worth knowing. He gave us the ultimate tour of this old-school brewery. And he gave us an amazing evening, which left us all muddled with booze and inspiration. It’s an experience that can’t be replicated and will linger in my mind for a long time to come.
Fuller’s put on tours on a daily basis. If you fancy having a look around check out their website.
Photos by Mark Daw & Josh Smith