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Arkell's keeps it in the family...and brings back Mild for May

Added: Wednesday, April 11th 2012

Arkell’s brewery in Swindon is keeping to family traditions by appointing 26 year-old Alex Arkell as the new head brewer at the Wiltshire firm, founded in 1843. He is the first member of the family to be appointed to the job for many years and his father, chairman James Arkell, said the appointment is “no shoe-in” and Alex needed to complete a rigorous apprenticeship.

After university, Alex ran the Rusty Bicycle pub in Oxford for a year and faced beer drinkers at the sharp end. “They don’t pull any punches if the beer isn’t to their liking,” he says.

He spent six months working as an intern with fellow family brewer Fuller’s in West London and then studied at the World Brewing Academy in Chicago and Munich where he gained a Master Brewer qualification in 2011. For the past six months, Alex worked alongside Arkell’s acclaimed head brewer Don Bracher, who has now retired. “I’ve learned from the best,” Alex says. He adds that he will maintain the traditional values of the brewery but will add to the line-up of 2B, 3B and Kingsdown Ale with a variety of new seasonal ales that will meet the demands of modern beer drinkers.

Alex has already implemented a range of developments at the brewery. In less than six months he has ensured that close to half of Arkell’s 105 pubs have won Cask Marque accreditation. A CM plaque is only given to publicans when they have passed a rigorous examination of beer quality and cellar skills. Alex takes beer quality seriously and will embark on a series of Meet the Brewer evenings in the family’s pubs, starting at the White Hart Hotel in Whitchurch, Hampshire, later this month.

James Arkell says he is delighted to have his son  on board: “I can think of no one better to introduce the next generation of drinkers to real ale.”

*One of Alex Arkell's first moves as head brewer has been to bring back Maypole Mild, first brewed in 2008. It will be on sale from 23 April and is part of CAMRA's Make May a Mild Month annual campaign. The 3.6% beer is dark in colour but Alex has given the traditional style a modern twist by using American Willamette hops, which give the beer a spicy and floral aroma. Maypole Mild will cost £2.80 a pint and will be on sale in Arkell's pubs in the South-west and free trade accounts.

Picture shows Alex Arkell (left) with his elder brother, George, a director of the Swindon brewery.

alex and george