Our local brewery Sambrook’s was a pioneer of the small brewery movement that emerged in the early 2000s. It all started with a Gordon Brown-led 50% cut in tax rates for smaller breweries, and led to an explosion in range and variety – and had been credited with helping pubs add interest, and attract new drinkers.
At first Sambrook’s was based in a single rather unglamorous lock-up unit on Yelverton Road (just off the York Road), and its beers were only available at the Falcon pub. It was a definite success and grew rapidly – and from a Lavender Hill perspective, an important milestone was the launch of the Lavender Hill Pale Ale! It started as a limited one-off release but it proved popular and has become a fairly regular annual appearance since.
The range is now widely available, and Sambrook’s premises have expanded a fair bit since – taking over most of the building on Yelverton Road, and expanding to include a shop and a tap room. There’s also an offsite bottling operation in Broadstairs, shared with several other breweries.
But they’ve outgrown the premises. And now they’re moving – to far more luxurious accommodation, in the old Ram Brewery in Wandsworth town centre. Sambrook’s will invest £1.5 million in the new brewery, which will include a museum incorporating some of the old Young’s equipment that remains on site.
It’s unlikely we’ll see a return to the days when Wandsworth gyratory smelt of brewing, and (if you were lucky) you could spot horse-drawn deliveries to the very many nearby Young’s pubs in Wandsworth. But it’s good to see that our most local brewery is growing and continuing to prosper, even if it’s moving slightly further away – and it’s also good to see part of the old Ram Brewery (which has been a brewery, one way or another, all the way back to the 16th century) continuing to make beer.
The square next to the planned new brewery in Wandsworth, with the towers above Southside shopping centre in the background.