The Albion Brewing Company started up in April 2016 with the aim to produce small batches of beer. Classed as a "pico-brewery" by head honcho Harry Speller, the Bath brand typically brews around 65-litres a batch. Brewing days see the home-based company taking over the kitchen, the conservatory, and the pantry, using portable, professional-grade home brew equipment from America. Despite being small, Harry believes it allows the company to be creative, and to constantly tweak and refine his products.
Harry: "A big part of the inspiration for the brewery was our local area and Bath history. Bath use to have about a large number of breweries, perhaps 30-plus names over the last couple of hundred years. A famous one was The Bear Brewery up on Bear Flat (where Majestic and Carphone Warehouse now sits) before it was bombed in World War Two. The name Albion comes from ancient history, it was what the Ancient Greeks use to call Great Britain. It also works with the literary names for our beers, which is again inspired by the Bear Flat area, specifically Poet’s Corner where all the streets are named after famous poets or writers."
Harry’s desire to do something different was the driving force behind setting up the company, plus the need to be "a bit more hand’s on and creative". Right now he is producing three styles of beer: Paradise Lost, a strong amber ale, and The Tempest, which is a rye beer with the addition of juniper, and Knight’s Tale, based on the German equivalent of cask ale but using lager yeast.
Harry: "Our beers are named after famous works from the likes of John Milton (Paradise Lost), Shakespeare (The Tempest) and Chaucer (Knight’s Tale). I probably also owe a friend a case of beer with her suggestion of having a quote from each of the works on the label! It’s always hard to choose a favourite as I think it depends on your mood. The Tempest is a great summer beer, serve nice and cold and goes really well with food, based on feedback we had. Paradise Lost is a darker and perhaps moodier (cliche I know!), very much a winter warmer, I think. And Knight’s Tale is rather quaffable."
Harry, who still has a full-time job and says that brewing is all a bit of a hobby, is currently experimenting with newer varieties of British Hops that are much closer to the robust American flavours of recent years. He also has a seasonal ale in the works.
Harry: "The other thing we wanted to do was mix up techniques and beer styles across the world. I tend to be influence by Belgium and American styles and am always curious to see what happens if you mix different styles. It might using English malts with German yeasts or using other ingredients like orange peel or coriander which is popular in some styles of beer."
The company’s plan is to slowly grow organically within Bath, while having fun making and selling beers. And Harry says the local area has been central to helping the business grow.
Harry: "It’s been great meeting local businesses and people, getting feedback and seeing how our beers are received. We use the feedback and demand to refine our beers so that they get better each time."
So why do Harry and his beers love Somerset?
Harry: "Why do I love Somerset? I think it’s so many things. The scenery, the fact you aren’t too far from the coast, and places like Bath, where you can literally walk a few minutes and be out in countryside which is great on a summer day. Plus there is the food and drink, cider and beer."