Desert Island Beers #19: Steve Wellington0November 25th, 2011Desert Island Beers
To meet Steve Wellington is to meet Worthington White Shield, and I’m privileged to say that just as White Shield is really nice to drink, so Steve is a really nice man to meet.
Steve started brewing with Bass in 1965 after spending 5 years at medical school in London trying to avoid becoming a doctor. Luckily for beer lovers Steve soon realised that “the problem with medicine is that you always tend to see the worst in people, whereas in brewing, the opposite is, in my view, the norm!”
A decade ago Steve rescued Worthington White Shield from potential oblivion and did enough to convince Molson Coors to let him plug away with one of England’s India pale ale love stories on ancient wooden and copper brewing kit in the tall red brick chambers of the White Shield Brewery at Burton.
“Brewing with a large company is not all brewing; I once asked why, when having spent a relatively short time doing what I loved (brewing), was I shuttled around in every other department including management services, export sales, technical services etc, etc, etc… The reply was fairly predictable – “It’s to make you a more rounded manager with experience of the whole company”. I guess I became a human resource when all I wanted to be was a brewer!”
“I mustn’t complain though since I have spent the last 17 years brewing in a small brewery, The William Worthington Brewery, within the major conglomerate, resurrecting beers that had become somewhat unfashionable, but to me and many others, sublime.”
Molson Coors didn’t stop there though, and when Steve’s beloved White Shield brewery had reached the end of its aged days, the brewing behemoth – against the usual tide of big beer companies – opted to built Steve a brand new microbrewery in listed buildings near the all new National Brewing Museum.
And here Steve continued to produce both new beers and beer recipes that hadn’t been seen for years until his retirement was announced earlier this year.
So Steve, with all this free time on your hands, you’ve plenty of time for drinking on our desert island, right? What five beers will you be taking with you?
- Worthington White Shield (UK – 5.6%)
“I am allowed to take just one of my own and so please forgive my parochial choice for my all time favourite beer: Worthington White Shield, preferably in bottle since, being bottle conditioned, I don’t have to worry about shelf life. It has remained pretty much unchanged since appearing first in 1830. Consumed with ripe Stilton Cheese, there can be no finer combination. It is an India Pale Ale and Pete Brown, the acclaimed beer writer, sailed to India with a small cask of slightly higher gravity White Shield and wowed the Indians and expats with the well travelled cask. Interesting to relate that the cask sent by air in 24 hours was significantly inferior to the cask that spent 3 months on the high seas. For those who want to learn more, I highly recommend the book that described his adventures – Hops & Glory.”
- St Feuillien Bier d’Abbaye (Belgium – 8.5%)
“My second choice, also an ale, is St Feuillien Bier d’Abbaye from Brasserie St Feuillien, Le Roeulx, Belgium. It is an amazingly wonderful full bodied ale that I found myself drinking from 10.30 in the morning until 23.00 the same day without becoming inebriated nor having a hangover the morning after. I put this down to the skill and knowledge of the Brewmaster, Benoit, who I discovered I had met in Burton on Trent some 30 years previously.”
- Singha (Thailand – 5%)
“My third choice is a lager beer and has been very much influenced by my love of Thai food. Singha Beer from Boon Rawd brewery in Thailand just takes me back to that magical country every time I open a bottle. It is so fresh and complements the wonderful tastes of Thai food perfectly.”
- Budweiser Budvar (Czech Republic – 5%)
“My fourth choice is also a lager beer and in my view one of the great beers of the world: Budweiser Budvar (not the one from Florida by the way!). This is my beer of choice on a warm summer evening at a garden party if my host has managed to acquire some! The balance of taste is amazing and it is a beer that, if discontinued for any reason, I would have to question whether life was worth living any more.”
- Guinness (Ireland – 4.1%)
“My final beer has to be, arguably, the most recognized speciality beer in the world – Guinness. There are two reasons for including this iconic beer in my top five brews. Whenever this luscious liquid slides down my throat, I am immediately transported to that wonderful city of fun, Dublin. If I found myself depressed or lonely on my island, a gulp of the black stuff would remind me of the many enjoyable days and nights I have spent in that wonderful city of cities. Also, should I be lucky to find oysters, nothing else but Guinness would do!
The other reason for choosing Guinness is that, should I be rescued by passing natives, no other beer would be as recognisable as a payment for rescue!”
And which beer (of those selected) do you regard most highly?
“I think you’d guessed quite rightly: Worthington White Shield.”
You can also take one meal to go with your beers, what would it be and why?
“I have already intimated my choice of food. A Thai meal would be heaven, even eaten every day; I doubt I would ever tire of the freshness, spiciness and healthiness of this greatest food on earth. On my island, I would have a good chance of harvesting some of the necessary tropical ingredients as well.”
You might be waiting a long time on your lonesome on the desert island, so we will automatically allow you a few books to keep your mind busy. You can pick between two beer books and two tomes: ‘The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food’ by Garrett Oliver, or ‘Beer’ by Michael Jackson; plus The Bible, or another appropriate religious or philosophical work
“Having known Michael Jackson fairly well, I would choose his book, Beer, as an exercise on how to describe taste in words that actually brings the taste alive.
The Bible has been rammed down our throats since school consequently with so much time on my hands it might be interesting to study the Koran and find out what Islam is all about.”
You have a CD/mp3/long player but you can only take one album. Choose wisely!
“Beethovens Pastoral Symphony – I don’t think I’d ever get tired of hearing this.”
The Luxury Item
And finally, what luxury item would help make your stay on the island bearable?
“My Yamaha Tyros Keyboard (with generator I assume!) Who knows with all the time in the world, I may master it!”
This article syndicated with All Gates Brewery blog as part of our ‘Desert Island Beers’ collaboration.
- Worthington White Shield (UK – 5.6%)