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Brewery Limited, Kingsdown Brewery, Swindon, SN2 7RU
823026 Fax. 01793 828864 email
Formerly called BB or John
Arkell Bitter, this is our lighter beer, described as "Fine quaffable
session bitter" in the 'Real Ale Drinker's Almanac'. Made from 92%
pale malt, 6% crystal malt and 2% sugar, it has a light, hoppy aroma and
is a thirst-quenching beer with a slightly tart taste and a dry hop
finish. 2B is a low gravity drinking beer which is nevertheless full of
flavour. It has been brewed constantly since the early 1900s and was
Arkell's most popular brew until it was overtaken by 3B in the 1970s. 2B
is also available in bottles when it is known simply as Light Ale.
Arkell's Best Bitter Beer, as it was originally known, was first brewed
in 1910 and has been affectionately known as BBB or 3B by customers ever
since. (One Swindon landlord will tell you that 'BBB' stands for "Big
Boy's Beer"). Today, 3B is renowned by Britain's beer lovers as a
superb, amber brew with a very distinctive taste and a sweet scent of
malt beneath the hops. Pale malt makes up 88% of the dry ingredients
along with 10% crystal malt and 2% sugar. According to the 'Real Ale
Drinker's Almanac', 3B has "delicate, beautifully balanced malt and hop
with lingering dry finish and hint of nut".
Kingsdown Ale is the
strongest of our regular beers but is a brother to 3B as it comes from the
same mash. It retains a strong character of its own, however, with its
rich colour, ripe fruit 'nose' and that traditional Arkell's hopiness. You
can taste the malt too, along with a bitter-sweet finish and fruit notes.
'Kingsdown', which is named after the area of Upper Stratton where the
brewery is situated, was originally brewed as a special beer to
commemorate Swindon Town Football Club's League Cup triumph in 1969 and
went into regular production in 1976.
Satisfying the modern
demand for 'smooth' beers, what better to call one of the smoothest beers
around than simply "Smooth"? This is the newest addition to the
Arkell's range and retains that characteristic Arkell's flavour while also
delivering the silky texture that many of our customers enjoy. Its lower
alcohol content makes it a lighter alternative to other 'smooth' beers
which are available.
Launched in 1987 and named in honour of the present chairman's father
Sir Noel Arkell, who was born on Christmas Day. The strongest of Arkells
Ales, this full-bodied beer is cleverly disguised by its distinctive
light colour, and slides down very easy, leaving drinkers with a warm,
Bee's ABV: 4.5%
Launched in October 2001, Bee's is Arkell's first organic ale.
Organically grown malted barley, hops and, unusually, organically
produced honey are used in the brew. These give this golden premium
bottled ale a light, fresh taste - with the organic honey providing a
delightful and surprising flavour.
We also offer a range of Seasonal Ales.
See our website for details.
Anyone visiting Arkell's
Brewery for the first time could be excused for thinking they have walked
straight into a time machine.
The beer is still brewed in
much the same way as it was when John Arkell first made it in 1843 and the
brewery buildings seem untouched by the passing years. If you speak to any
of the staff about the company it is clear that everyone is still as
fiercely proud of its local and family roots as John Arkell was himself.
But Arkell's has not
achieved its unique position as Swindon's oldest company and one of the
oldest traditional breweries still operating in Britain today, simply by
The company has remained
true to the principles of loyalty, quality and tradition set down by its
founder, John Arkell 158 years ago, but it has also adapted brilliantly to the changing
world around it. Some things never change at Arkell's, but it is the
ability to change effectively when change is necessary that has been at
the cornerstone of the brewery's success story over the last 158 years.
Arkell's became a private limited company
in 1927 with all shares owned by the family - as, indeed, is the case
today. Now at the helm were brothers Thomas Noel (later Sir Noel),
James Graham and John Oliver Arkell.
By now the brewery was over 70 years old
and it was time to modernise, so the 1930s saw the closure of the maltings
and the opening of a high-tech bottling plant which employed up to 25
people. The period also saw the foundation of a mineral water plant which
gave birth to the fondly-remembered Ace brand of soft drinks. Meanwhile,
the new brewery chimney was added to the Stratton skyline for the first
Despite the slow recovery period after the
Second World War, a handful of new pubs were added to the Arkell's estate
and, in 1954, Peter Arkell, the eldest son of Sir Noel, joined the company
as a director. A war veteran who had seen service with the
RAF in Burma, Peter had spent a year in hospital after crashing behind
enemy lines. He brought valuable brewing experience to Arkell's as a
former director at the Tadcaster Tower Brewery.
The late Peter Arkell, who was awarded the OBE in the
Queen's Birthday Honours in 1997, once said: "My initials are 'PA' -
Pale Ale. I was born in the brewery and I married a brewer's daughter. I'm
in it up to my neck!"
With Sir Noel, Graham and Peter as a board
of directors, the Sixties was to see another groundbreaking era in the
history of Arkell's as it took its first steps in the wine and spirits
market, buying out local firm Brown and Plummer's, which was actually
owned by one of Peter's cousins.
It was another example of Arkell's adapting
to shifting fashions in the drinks industry while still applying the same
business methods that had served them so well for over a century. It would
ensure Arkell's Vintners of its current status as the leading wine
merchants in the area under Sales and Vintners Director, Nicholas Arkell.
Further diversification came in 1967
when Arkell's formed a partnership with Derek Austin to supply the growing
demand for amusement machines in pubs and in 1979 it also secured a 50 per
cent interest in Edmont's Joinery, a company employing 70 people which
carries out much of the refurbishment of Arkell's pubs.
There were changes, too, back at the
brewery, where the mineral plant was closed in 1962 and the cooper's shop
- made redundant by the introduction of metal casks in 1960 - sadly
followed in 1968.
In the boardroom, Peter Arkell became
chairman in 1971, a year before the death of Graham Arkell and ten years
before Sir Noel, Peter's father, passed away. Meanwhile, a new Arkell
generation - the fifth - was being groomed to help lead the business
towards and beyond its 150th anniversary.
James Arkell (pictured right) was born in 1951
and by the time he became a director in 1973 he had already learned the
art of brewing at the Donnington Brewery near Stow-on-the-Wold, owned by
second cousin Claude Arkell, and with spells at Baird's the maltsters and
Bass. James is now managing director and deputy chairman.
The Seventies and Eighties saw Arkell's
secure itself an enviable reputation among lovers of traditional beer as
the consumer revolution set off by the Campaign for Real Ale left the
company well placed to take advantage of beer drinkers' discerning
attitude towards the quality of beer.
If the 150th anniversary celebrations in
1993 were a time for looking back to Arkell's magnificent past, the 1990s
were also a time for the business to look forward to the future with
A wholesale disposal of Whitbread pubs saw
Arkell's buy up and breathe new life into eight pubs in Gloucester and
Cheltenham in 1991 and this was to herald an expansion even more rapid
than the one masterminded by John Arkell in the last century. The brewery
now has pubs in places as far away as Oxford, Newbury and Ascot and a busy
free trade, mainly through the Thames Valley and into London.
Meanwhile, the original bottling store,
which closed in 1983, was replaced in 1997 by a new, high-tech plant which
is ensuring that Arkell's customers can once again enjoy their beer at
Now with 97 pubs under its wing - many of
them extensively refurbished - Arkell's is not only ready for whatever
changes the 21st century will bring to its business and its products, but
it is relishing the challenge.
The late Dave Backhouse, chairman of the
Swindon branch of CAMRA, said: "Given its combination of tradition
and efficiency, we can hope for a long and prosperous future for this
well-run local company."
We'll drink to that.
All of our regular beers
rely on Goldings and Progress whole hops for bitterness, while Fuggles
hops provide that magical hoppy aroma.
One of the main
reasons why our beers have such a distinctive flavour is that we are still
using the same strain of yeast that we introduced in the 1930s. We have
four main beers which we brew all year round, four seasonal beers - for
spring, summer, autumn and winter - plus a magnificent Christmas ale. We
also brew special commemorative beers. Arkell's is a year-round beer
festival for the discerning drinker.