John Henry celebration ale launched: A taste of 1865

Friday, 24 October 2014

John Henry Celebration Ale

Yesterday, Thursday 23 October, Oxford Brookes launched a limited edition real ale.

Aptly named John Henry after the founding father of the University, the ale has been brewed to mark the 150th anniversary of Oxford Brookes which we will celebrate next year.

It is a big beer, hoppy, aromatic and complex and it will improve with age; A beer to be sipped and enjoyed with friends.

Ed Murray, Shotover Brewery

Vice Chancellor of Oxford Brookes Janet Beer said: “I am pleased to launch our limited edition John Henry celebration ale. Brookes is proud of its local roots in Oxford and working alongside Shotover Brewery has given us an opportunity to celebrate in our community. 

“The John Henry beer will bring a smile to everybody’s face. It is a fun way to commemorate the 150th anniversary and also another way of expressing our founder’s name.

“We wanted to develop something in keeping with what our anniversary celebrations are all about: sharing with others our past successes and making an investment in the future.”
The ale was brewed and hand bottled at The Shotover Brewery in Horspath by Brookes alumnus and proprietor Ed Murray. Ed used the National Brewing Library, which is housed at Brookes, to recreate a historic recipe which reflects how a premium beer might have tasted in 1865, when The Oxford School of Art first opened.

Ed said: “It is an Export India Pale Ale at 7.1% ABV and contains massive amounts of hops and malt by modern standards.

“Strong beers were usual in Victorian times to ensure they kept well without refrigeration but beers made for export to the Empire had to have outstanding keeping qualities to survive crossing the equator twice and months at sea.

“It is a big beer, hoppy, aromatic and complex and will improve with age; a beer to be sipped and enjoyed with friends.”

Beer launch

A launch event at Union Square on the Gipsy Lane Campus was held on Thursday afternoon where guests were able to taste the ale. Guests said of the ale: 

"Superb. It really is a super beer. It is a credit to Ed and thank you to the University for celebrating their anniversary with beer when it could have so easily been wine or any other product so to choose a beer is superb, I really am pleased.”
Tony Goulding, Chairman of Oxford CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale)

“It’s a really nice flavour, really strong, nice and hoppy. It’s not like anything I've ever tasted before.”
Alex Hornsey, President of the Brookes Union Real Ale Society

The ale will be available to buy in a limited edition, collectors item 750ml bottles (£11) and 500ml bottles (£4.50) at the Brookes Restaurant and the Colonnade store on the Gipsy Lane campus from today, Friday 24 October.