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Bedfordshire Breweries

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Charles Wells

Charles Wells Logo

Charles Wells Ltd, The Eagle Brewery, Havelock Street, Bedford, Bedfordshire  MK40 4LU
Tel. 01234 272766  Fax. 01234 279000  email  website


BOMBARDIER 4.3 per cent ABV
A burnished copper coloured beer brewed from pale and crystal malts with Challenger and Styrian Goldings hops. It has a rich and tempting aroma of peppery hops and raisins, while the palate is dominated by more dark fruit, juicy malt and tangy hops, followed by a lingering soft, spicy finish with a sultana fruit character and a gentle hop bitterness.

EAGLE BITTER 3.6 per cent ABV
A pale copper coloured beer with a spicy hop and nutty malt aroma from Challenger and Styrian Goldings hops, with crystal malt alongside pale malt. The palate is dominated by tangy hops and orange fruit, while the finish is a complex balance of bitter hops, nuts and tart, citrus fruit.

This dark golden coloured ale hugs the palate with great intensity. Its malty aroma is complemented by the gentle nose of Banana. Its flavour unfolds with a sensual sparkle and a smart crispness, which balances its aroma perfectly. Tropically fruity; its ripe banana flavour, emphasised by a hint of bitterness, comes from the addition of real fair trade bananas and finishes with an emphatic, steely dryness.

This is a full flavoured 4.1% bitter, with a refreshingly malty flavour and a distinctive bitterness, derived from a blend of the finest English Challenger hops.

A full drinking 4.5 % bitter of mid range colour, with a tight creamy head, and a pronounced nutty flavour from the Naked Golden Oats. The distinctive bitterness derived from English Challenger hops is balanced perfectly by the fullness and sweet maltiness on the palate, accompanied by nut and malt notes with a full, late hop aroma.


Founded in 1876 to provide beer to the local Bedfordians, Charles Wells is now the largest independently owned, family run brewery in the country and is in fact the UK's fifth largest brewery. Over five generations the Wells family have worked at the brewery, and there are currently three members of the Wells family involved on a day to day basis. It really is a traditional family business.

How did it come about?

In the 1860s Charles Wells decided that the only way to see the world was to go to sea. So at the age of 14 he joined the frigate Devonshire as cabin boy on his first trip to India. By 1868 he had become qualified as a steamship captain, and had seen some great sights having sailed to Australia and around the Cape of Good Hope.

However, during one of his infrequent trips home he went to a party in Oxford and met the woman of his dreams, a Miss Josephine Grimbley. Love blossomed and before long Charles asked for her hand in marriage. She was delighted, he was delighted, Mr Grimbley senior wasn't!  No daughter of his was going to marry a seafaring man who would spend so long away from home. So he gave Charles an ultimatum. His daughter or the sea. Fortunately his love for Josephine was too strong and he agreed to hang up his sea boots. He then had to find a way of supporting his bride.

In the beginning

In 1875, a two and a quarter acre site came to auction on the banks of the River Ouse as it ran through Bedford.

The site contained a coal depot and a brew house round the back. Included in the price were 35 pubs, most of which were in Bedford and the surrounding area. It was this that caught Charles' imagination. Beer.

Charles figured beer would always be in demand, even in the hardest of times. So with the help of his father, Charles bought the site and began work turning the small brew house into a fully fledged brewery which could serve the county.

Water is an absolutely vital ingredient and has a huge impact on the beer's flavour. So to produce the best beer you need the best water. In 1902 Charles climbed a hill, just a couple of miles from the brewery and sank his own well to tap into an underground reservoir of water, purified through layers of chalk and limestone.

Today all Charles Wells beer is still made with water drawn from the well sunk by Charles 90 years ago.

The brewery today.

By 1976, the growing demand for Charles Wells beer meant the original Charles Wells site was just not big enough to allow for any expansion. The move to the Eagle Brewery in Havelock Street, Bedford gave the company the opportunity to install the most up to date brewing equipment which is why we can guarantee that, when our beer leaves this site it is of consistently excellent quality.

Bombardier English Premium Bitter and Eagle Bitter are our key ales. We also produce Red Stripe Lager, the Jamaican lager which we brew under licence. But did you know Charles Wells also brew the Indian lager Cobra, as well as the Japanese lager Kirin, which is in fact the 4th largest selling beer brand in the world? And as one of only three other breweries in the world which are allowed to brew Kirin, it gives some idea of the regard in which Charles Wells is held by the world's leading brewers.

Today, Charles Wells beer is not just sold in the UK. In fact approaching 25% of the company's output is exported, despite the strength of the pound, and you can find our beer being sold in bars in 23 countries around the world, including pubs which Charles Wells owns in Italy, Spain and in France. And in 1997 our success in the export market meant that we were awarded the Queens Award for Export Achievement.

In the UK Charles Wells also has depots in Manchester and in Kings Cross London in addition to a flourishing Free Trade and Take Home business. So, although still a family based business, our passion for beer means you can find our products far and wide, not just in our estate of over 250 pubs, and in our retail developments such as Cox's Yard in Stratford, H.G's in Peterborough and R.K Stanley in London. Additionally, via Red Stripe, Charles Wells has entered the music venue business with interests in the Shepherds Bush Empire and Brixton Academy.

Why not visit our own website for even more information at 

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