Lot’s of people have asked me this question since I took on Ales of Scilly in March 2017! Some with a knowing glint in their eye and a wry smile on their face as they know I am fond of a good pint of local ale, some with a look of despair as they imagine Scilly to be a bleak and isolated wilderness. My first response was “why not?”
To me Scilly is a special place that I have always been drawn to. I remember getting up early in the morning to get the boat across for the day with my mum and sister, often dragging friends with us to spend the day traipsing around the islands in the pouring rain but loving every second of it – even in rough weather on the Scillonian!
In the last 2 years, Scilly has become my new adventure and home. There are so many opportunities on these islands and the brewery has so much potential, after all, Scilly is regarded as 2000 alcoholics clinging to a rock!
But ales aren’t about getting off your face drunk, nor should it be at all associated with any form of antisocial behaviour. Ale is more than just a drink; it is a topic of conversation between you and a stranger at your local pub, it is a natural process with its roots set deep in history. The same process has been passed down from generation to generation, each tweaking it along the way, for hundreds of years – it is a little bit of history in a modern day glass or, if you prefer, your own personally engraved pewter jug (and yes, I know people who will only drink out of their own jug – you know who you are!!)
Ales span the seasons – a pale, hoppy, chilled ale on a beach with a BBQ and friends in the summer is one of my favourite things to do. But then in the winter, the cellar cooled, maltier ales become the perfect accompaniment to a comfy seat in front of the local pub’s log burner.
Over the past 15 years or so, ales seem to have had somewhat of a revival, a re-invention. In my teens I would have to settle for the “old mans” bitter! Luckily, growing up in Cornwall meant that in some places I would be spoilt with the latest local ale and I must admit to being an avid Doom Bar drinker back then (my taste has changed a lot since then!) Friends who were buying rounds would not even bother asking me what I was drinking if they had spotted Doom on tap, something that is now quite a common sight across a lot of the country making Doom a great export for Cornwall but for the discerning ale drinker all a bit too common.
In my 20’s I discovered the beauty of Skinners brewery and their hoppy loveliness of Porthleven – still one of my favourite ales. In my 30’s I started gig rowing and as all gig rowers know, with rowing comes a thirst usually only quenched by a cold pint of something.
My curiosity grew from there and now, here I am, with my Ales of Scilly crew, making my own ales and hoping to encourage more people to give it a try. There is an ale for just about everyone out there – you just have to give a few a try and chat to some locals in the real ale freehouses – some may even allow a little taster before you commit to a full pint!!
That is “why a brewery?”