First, a little history.
Trueman’s were one of London’s oldest established breweries, founded on Brick Lane on the outskirts of the City of London in 1666, the year of the Great Fire of London. Brewing continued at the ‘Black Eagle’ brewery on the Brick Lane site until 1989 when Trueman’s were taken over by the owners of the “Watney’s” brewery. The site is now a thriving arts, cultural and media centre.
As a child, growing up in London’s ‘east end’, I have vivid recollections of an animated neon sign at Limehouse, depicting a peg-legged pirate with the caption ‘More Hops in Ben Trueman’.
Then, in 2012, James Morgan and Michael-George Hemus decided to revive the Trueman’s name. It took them some time to locate suitable premises and construct their new ‘Eyrie’ brewery in nearby Hackney Wick, but brewing restarted in August 2013 using authentic Trueman’s yeast sourced from the National Collection of Yeast Cultures. The yeast had been stored at -196 degrees Celsius since 1958.
Their first brew has been released as a (very) special edition, about which I will write soon.
To celebrate the first anniversary of the rebirth of Trueman’s they’ve recreated a brew that dates back to 1883 – much like Shepherd Neame’s 6.1% IPA revival that I reviewed here. Ben Trueman is a 6% ABV Pale Ale, featuring Maris Otter Pale Malt and Munich Malt, and a blend of eight different hops (from Bavaria, Bohemia, Britain and the United States), it sounds like the peg-legged pirate might have been right.
As well as traditional Trueman’s yeast, the guys enlisted a former Trueman’s brewer – Derek Prentice – to assist their own Head Brewer Ben Ott in recreating this brew. Derek worked at the original Trueman’s brewery from 1968 until 1989 before moving on to Youngs and then Fullers breweries.
There’s an interview with Derek about this brew here:
So, on to the brew, somewhat distracted by Sir Ben Trueman – looking a lot like George Washington on the dollar bill – scowling from the beer’s label.
It pours a rich apricot colour, the head is full, crisp and white. It’s bottle conditioned, so there’s a slight risk of smuts in the, otherwise pristine, head.
The nose is full and fruity, candied orange peel, biscuit and a twist of lemon. I’ve tried a few brews of late that disappointed in the nose department, but this promises much.
And the flavour doesn’t disappoint either, it’s powerful, there are heady hops to the fore, modern hops, despite the vintage of the recipe. There’s a solid, but subtle malt base, and the 6% alcohol lurks threateningly behind.
It’s eminently quaffable, really refreshing and, with that 6% alcohol content, dangerous. I found myself reaching, all too easily, for a second.
According to CAMRA’s latest ‘Good Beer Guide’, London now has some fifty four breweries, of which no fewer than sixteen have opened in the last year. The new Trueman’s pre-dates those sixteen, but they’re a welcome return to the London scene and I look forward to seeking out more of their brews.
For now I’m happy to give this brew three and a half Brewclub stars… It was very nearly a four.