Saturday, 5 July 2008

One of the Old School


I paid one of my pastoral visits to Lees yesterday. I was invited by the Head Brewer, Giles Dennis, to have a look at the revamped brewery cottage - the hospitality suite. And an excellent job they have done of it too with old Lees bottles in a glass display case, various enlarged photos and awards and a few prizes from brewing, labelling and bottling competitions too.

While having a pint with Giles the Chairman Richard Lees-Jones came in. As he always does, he said hello and then came over for a chat. He is still known in the brewery as Mr Richard in the age old tradition. The new (sixth) generation led by William Lees-Jones have dropped this and I can see why, but in the case of Mr Richard, no other name could ever be more appropriate, though you can get away with calling him Chairman. For someone who has worked at the brewery for well over forty years, his enthusiasm and optimism still burn brightly. He is still in every day, working as usual. He was telling me that the seventh generation now number nine in total, so he is optimistic that the youngsters are in sufficient numbers to take over in due course, though it will be a fairly long time away. He was also very proud of the company's current pub refurbishment programme and mentions that everything they do is to prepare the company for the future. He spoke cheerfully of his confidence that Lees can ride out any recession.

I couldn't help but feel, this family owned company is in very safe hands indeed.



In addition to the bitter which was in great form, I tried the Summer Sizzler which is a lovely refreshing beer.

16 comments:

Jeff Frane said...

I'm more than happy to change my name to Lees-Jones if they will adopt me. I think I'd be a great addition to the family.

Tandleman said...

Comment of the year!

Stonch said...

I can get JW Lees at the pub as a guest beer. Should I? Would I be the only place in London serving it?

Tandleman said...

If you serve it through a swan neck and a tight sparkler - yes! If you can't do that I'd say maybe not, as it won't present properly and I wouldn't want its reputation damaged, all respect to your cellar skills, by flat southern dispense. (You'd also need to to teach your staff how to pour a proper sparkled pint without wastage too.)

I'd guess it has been in London as a guest beer before though.

Stonch said...

Come now. This is surely a matter of personal preference. For those of us who don't like the smoother mouthfeel, suppressed bitterness and creamy head that sparklers produce, a pint dispensed in the normal fashion would surely be better, regardless of the provenance of the beer in question.

As for "flat southern dispense" - pints in my pub have a very healthy head indeed because the beer's always in good condition.

Tandleman said...

You know I don't particularly accept the premise on which you say "come now". As for normal fashion, the normal fashion for Lees is as I describe.

If you are going to do it your way, do it during GBG week. I'll come along and mark it out of 10. When it comes to Lees, I'm a harsh judge. (-:

Tyson said...

Slightly puzzled. We are always hearing complaimts that Southern beers are being ruined by unnatural sparklers. When the king of Lees proclaims (quite correctly) how it should be dispensed, what do we get? Apparently, it's only a matter of preference and will be fine without one. Double standards?

dave said...

I just think its great that the modern liberated man can admit to liking Lees. Always tastes like Fairy Liquid to me.

Tandleman said...

Fairy Liquid isn't my kind of tipple Dave, but each to his own. At least your Fairy Liquid is cheap enough.

Tyson said...

Dave

Bit unfair on Fairy Liquid that, I thought.

Jeff Frane said...

The token Yank will bite: What is Fairy Liquid?

Tyson said...

Jeff

It's a brand of washing up liquid.

Jeff Frane said...

So Dave and Tyson drink that? Yow. No wonder they don't care for Lees.

Stonch said...

My objection to sparklers has never been restricted to their use with Southern beers: indeed I've always rejected the notion that somehow a beer's provenance in terms of North/South should dictate how it's dispensed. That's because I don't think one can generalise about the attributes of beers on the basis of where in England they're from.

So, I don't like sparkler use, full stop. That's the personal preference bit, you see. I'm talking about what one person - i.e. me - prefers, not some geographical hokum.

Swan necks I take a much softer line on. They're fitted in my pub, and I rather like them. But then they have a very different effect than sparklers, so a different view is understandable.

Stonch said...

PS. I must say Tandleman, you're the only person I've ever heard praise Lees. Having said that, I understand it's only really distributed locally - so perhaps it's a case of nemo propheta in patria sua.

Tandleman said...

Ah I knew that my Latin O level would come in handy one day! Perhaps that's because there is no need so to be? I much prefer to think that one day hodie mihi, cras tibi.

Alas, probably, a forlorn hope. For the blind all things remain dark.