On 2 June 2009 twenty members of the South Wales and Western Polymer Group, including guests, visited the Wadworth Brewery in Devizes. Wadworth is famous for its 6X and other ’real ale’ beers, which are made in a Victorian brewery still operating in much the same way as when it was built in 1875.
The guided tour started in the modern Visitor Centre and quickly moved to the adjacent multi-storey Victorian brewery, starting on the top floor. Here water, malt and hops are combined to proceed through the various stages on the floors below using gravity to assist, and today mainly in stainless steel equipment. At the bottom the beer is passed into barrels, or transferred to a bottling plant. The careful layout and efficiency of the process was impressive, even if the working conditions were rather cramped in some places!
We were also able to visit the Shire Horse stables, where the horses that still deliver to the local pubs by dray are kept. Nearby are the sign writing workshops with a display of superb hand painted signs for Wadworth pubs, and the cooperage where barrels are made and repaired, There are very few breweries remaining that still carry out these tasks themselves. The cooper recently advertised for an apprentice (a rare event) and was swamped with replies!
The final stage of the tour was to look at the displays in the Visitor Centre, and the highlight for many, a sampling session in the bar! There were plenty of different brews to try, and for those that were driving bottles were provided to take away. After the gift shop (to buy yet more beer if required!), the tour finished with all present having had a very enjoyable time.