Charles Wells Brewery - Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale
- Alcohol by Volume: 5.0%
- Serving Temperature: 47-52° F
- Suggested Glassware: Pint Glass or Mug
One would be forgiven for assuming this to be a sickly sweet dessert in a glass, but we assure you it’s really not. Instead, it’s very much in the realm of traditional English Brown Ales, which tend to offer up quite a bit of toffee character – albeit in this case somewhat amplified. This brew presents a very clear deep brown color capped by plenty of foam, which drops to a fine-bubbled collar. “Pudding” is a term the Brits use somewhat differently than us; sticky toffee pudding is more of a date-infused sponge cake topped with toffee sauce. In any case, it’s no surprise to find plenty of toffee in the aroma, along with a supporting mocha coffee character, caramel, and a touch of dark rum. On the palate, look for notes of toffee, caramel, mild nuttiness, and touches of dark fruity esters reminiscent of dates and figs. Despite the dessertish connotations, the beer is not sticky sweet at all; in fact, it’s actually well balanced by some mild hop bitterness and quite light on the palate – plus at just 5% ABV it’s quite sessionable, like any good English Brown Ale. Enjoy this brew with a plate of classic English pub cheeses like Double Gloucester, Cotswold, Lancashire, and real farmhouse Cheddar. Cheers!
The story of Charles Wells, until recently known by the name “Wells & Young’s,” is really the story of two breweries, both family-run for generations. We’ll start with Charles Wells Ltd. The eponymous Charles Wells founded his brewery in 1876 after spending his adolescence and early adulthood as a sailor. After falling in love, his would-be father-in-law refused to let Wells marry his daughter if he was to continue spending most of his days at sea. So, with some help from his father, Wells bought a small plot of land with an existing brewhouse and 35 local Bedford area pubs; from here he set about growing his new brewing company into a nationwide brand. In 1902, he built a well near the brewery, which continues to supply mineral-rich water for Wells beers to this day. With the company still in Wells family hands, production was moved to a new location, the Eagle Brewery, in 1976, at which time they installed modern top-end brewing equipment.
Young’s Brewery’s history stretches back even further; it was founded when Charles Young and his partner Anthony Bainbridge acquired the Ram Brewery in the Wandsworth district of greater London in 1831. The Ram’s history dates back at least as far as 1550, which is when the Ram pub makes its first appearance in the surviving public records. A brewery was in operation by 1576 at the latest, and it continued under the control of various owners until Young and Bainbridge made their purchase. For over a century and a half, the Ram Brewery remained in the hands of the Young family, who touted the Ram as the oldest brewery in continuous operation in Britain. Their purple-labeled Young’s Double Chocolate Stout is perhaps their most recognizable beer here across the pond.
In 2006, Charles Wells Ltd and Young’s Brewery merged, with production of Young’s brands shifting to Wells’ Eagle Brewery in Bedford. The company sold the Ram Brewery, but its new owners hired one of Young’s brewers to manage the building and continue brewing at a small scale. Wells is now the largest family-run independent brewer in Britain. The vast majority of their beer is consumed there, but 10% makes its way out to the rest of the world. Additionally, they’ve collaborated with breweries like Delaware’s Dogfish Head, with whom they crafted DNA New World IPA and DNA UK. For more info, visit www.charleswells.co.uk.
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