In the more than five years since Mr Fueled by Beer started writing this blog he has always tried to remain objective. If his personal opinion about a brewery or pub was negative, it was just that: an opinion. He always wanted readers to try a place for themselves. However he can no longer hold his tongue in the case of the Dickens Brewery at Great Expectations in Reading…
Back in Seattle we had the good fortune to observe the birth of several microbreweries wherein extremely talented homebrewers, albeit with no professional brewing experience, launched fantastic brewery/taproom businesses, all without quitting their day jobs. Seattle’s Reubens Brews and Dirty Bucket in Woodinville are just two of many that come to mind.
Based on this we know it’s possible to start a brewery from scratch and hit the ground running with a solid lineup of at least three or four core beers on day one. We also believe this experience qualifies us to recognize when a brewery is doing things right and when it is not. Unfortunately the Dickens Brewery is not.
I just stopped in at the Great Expectations to see how they’re getting on – they’ve certainly had enough time to iron out any kinks – but sadly I must now go on record and say that I can no longer recommend them. I’m sure Richard the brewer, stretched between at least two sites, is doing the best he can to produce beer to his usual high standard but when it comes to cask ale it takes more than that, much more.
During previous visits I have expressed my concern about the poor condition of the Dickens beers. Based on today’s visit I’m afraid I must report that the problem has not been resolved; in fact it may be worse. I believe it comes down to cellarmanship, or the lack of it.
Today there were five house beers on; four from the in-house brewery and one from the Worthing site. The bar staff could not say how long any of these casks had been tapped and the evidence from the glass was that they were all well past their best – all completely flat and devoid of any condition at all.
Until Great Expectations gets serious about keeping and serving the painstakingly brewed cask ale Richard brews at an acceptable quality I cannot in good conscience endorse them as a Fueled by Beer destination.