Back in July 2013 we visited West Berkshire Brewery during their open day and found it to be an event we could thoroughly recommend. The event included the opportunity to take a brewery tour and although we didn’t take one at the time, we referenced their availability in our corresponding blog post. We eventually returned to the brewery in April 2014 and took the tour…
As brewery tours go it was average at best. We were led around the brewhouse and given the usual overview of the brewing process: how different malted barley and hop varieties are used to create a multitude of beer styles; how ale and lager yeasts do their job; however the approach was very lacklustre and generic which made the tour somewhat boring.
Unlike many tours we have been on, there was no discussion of any special features that might set West Berkshire apart. Instead we heard about a brewery whose business plan is increasingly corporate, no longer the husband and wife business that sprang to life from the shed behind the Pot Kiln pub.
After visiting the brewhouse we were simply deposited into the brewery shop with three tokens to taste three beers on draft or take home in bottles. It wasn’t exactly an inspiring end to the tour since the bar has only three hand pumps. And what was on in the shop were the same core beers typically found in Reading’s local ale houses.
At the end of the day the West Berkshire brewery tour, at £12.50 a head, is not very good value. It costs significantly more than much better tours at other breweries. Take, for example, the Wadworth brewery tour in Devizes, where for £10 (£8.50 for over 60s) you get so much more.
Don’t get me wrong: Yattendon is a beautiful place to visit, which makes a visit to the West Berkshire Brewery, and its idyllic location, well worth the trip. However I can’t in good conscience recommend spending £12.50 on the brewery tour. Only if it is taken in conjunction with a free event – like the brewery open day – would it be worthwhile.