Back in February 2009, Robin and I fortuitously bumped into David, a brewer who had recently helped Duncan Sambrook start his own brewery, the aptly named Sambrook’s of Battersea. The timing couldn’t have been better as we were settled in at The Cow on Westbourne Park Road drinking their maiden beer, ‘Wandle’ ale at the time. (we later documented the encounter on the site, you can read it HERE).
A few months later and the press campaign for our book was about to start. The photographer from The Times asked us to bring along some props. The kind of things we enthuse about on the site. So fishing rods, records, books and obviously, beers. The shot which was to make the inside spread was me holding, by now a favourite, ‘Wandle’ ale. Not just in the background, but held to my lips, in full view. (I wouldn’t recommend this by the way, it needs to be poured carefully into a glass leaving the sediment and allowed to settle, but hell, this is The Times). Again fortuitous, but great product placement. With our book’s launch party round the corner it seemed eminently sensible
to call the brewery with the words, ‘I’m that bloke in The Times holding your beer. Can I have some please?’
The answer was yes. They’d even had our picture blown up and laminated in the brewery reception. From then on we became friends and Duncan and David invited us to the brewery for a tour. Jeff was unavailable so Robin and I drank his share. We really did have a piss up. Cliched, but brilliant fun. Sometime afterwards , in a nearby pub, over food, in a hopeless attempt to soak up the beer a plan was hatched.
‘Wandle’ ale was named after a river, my local river. We’re Caught By The River, let’s put the two together. Duncan agreed. But maybe he was just saying yes to the drunken fools shouting at him? A nervous phone call followed the next morning , and no, he’d agreed to a limited edition of ‘Caught By The River Wandle’ a bottle conditioned ale.
So there you have it. Our foray into brewing has begun.
The ale will be served at the Port Eliot festival this year.
In London at Planet Of The Grapes shop and wine bar as well as at The Social, W1.
If you live in London and can collect from the brewery in Battersea, then drop us a line and we’ll sort out a healthy discount on the case. We’ll make an announcement when we’ve secured other outlets outside of the capital.