On Friday 5th and Saturday 6th October Ascot Racecourse will showcase over 200 Real Ales, Cider and Perries at the Autumn Meeting featuring the 6th Ascot CAMRA Beer Festival.
This week we decided to take some time out of the office and have a chat with Chris Gill, brewer at Ascot Ales in Camberley. He took the time to let us know how he decided to get into brewing and what he’s looking forward to tasting at this year’s Beer Festival.
Name: Chris Gill
Location: Camberley Surrey
1. Why did you decide to get into brewing?
Simply, a love of beer. Both my wife & I use to work for Samsonite Luggage & at the time their European HQ was in Belgium. So we fell in love with Belgian beer & haven't looked back since. About 8 years ago I gave up the steady pay cheque & went self employed, running a small bottled beer stall in Spitalfields Market London. That was only part time & we moved on to Ascot Ales.
2. How easy was it to start your own brewery?
For us very easy, we did a “Remmington Razors”. We liked the beers so much we bought the business. Our predecessor took 6 months setting up the brewery, with the first brew June 2007. He quickly discovered how much hard work it was & as he was a computer programmer by day, found it very difficult to do both. Then Dell made him an offer to go full time, which was a 7 digit contract. It wasn't too much of a tough choice, as you'll never become a millionaire running a micro brewery. We took over December 2007 & haven't looked back since.
3. Is brewing real ale a lengthy process?
It takes about 6-7 hours to brew, then 7 days to ferment the beer out ( the yeast turning the sugars into alcohol), then we condition the beer in cask for a further 7 days. So 15 days from brewing to ready to go out to a pub.
4. What was the first ale you brewed?
Posh Pooch, our 4.2% Best Bitter, this is still our best selling beer.
5. What ale’s do you currently brew?
Lots! Posh Pooch, Alligator Ale, Alley Cat Ale, On The Rails, Aureole Ale, Anastasia's Exile Stout, Anastasia's Imperial Stout, Penguin Porter, Red IPA, a monthly Single Hop and our current seasonal is Oktoberfest
6. If someone’s palate is new to ale, what would you suggest they try first?
Alligator Ale. It's our 4.6% Golden Ale that has a citrusy grapefruity aroma from the Cascade hops. It's very popular at beer festivals and appeals to lager and cider drinkers as well as real ale fans.
7. Apart from your own fine ales, what is your favourite beer to drink on an autumnal evening?
That's a tough one to narrow it down to just one, but I guess I'll go for Orval. It's a 6.2% Belgian Trappist beer and I love. In fact I'm currently on holiday in Mallorca as I write this and I was drinking an Orval last night.
8. Last year you won Beer of the Festival with Coconut Crocodile, are you brewing a special ale to claim the title for the second year in a row?
Unfortunately not as we haven't been asked to this time, but I have high hope for Aureole Ale our new low strength Golden Ale at 3.3%. This was initially a jubilee beer & is named after the Queen's horse that ran in the Epsom Derby 6 days after her coronation. Also our Red IPA our 5.5% heavily hopped IPA is a big crowd pleaser at beer festivals.
9. Apart from winning Beer of the Festival last year, what has been your highlight from past Ascot Beer Festivals?
Volunteering to work behind the bar has been good fun & brewing festival specials, like On The Rails our hoppy mild. This has gone on to become a regular beer for us.
10. What are you looking forward to tasting at this year’s Ascot CAMRA Beer Festival?
The Scottish beers in particular as I'm not very familiar with them. The hoppy beers specifically so Colonsay IPA, Fyne Ales Black IPA, Loch Ness Nesster Piggott and Highland Brewing IPA. Though I'm sure I'll try lots of the other too.
For the opportunity to taste some of the beers available from Ascot Ales and the numerous other breweries, book your tickets today to the Ascot CAMRA Beer Festival. Tickets from £13pp, to book call 0844 346 3000 or visit www.ascot.co.uk.