Suthwyk Ales was started by Hampshire farmer Martin Bazeley in 2000. This was the first farm diversification project started by Martin, a tenant farmer in the village of Southwick. When farming came under pressure due to low milk and cereal prices at the time, Martin started to look at the other assets of the farm.
One of which was the ability to grow award winning malting barley on the chalky slopes of Portsdown Hill, overlooking Portsmouth.
Suthwyk Ales is unique from other Hampshire brewed beers, as the only producers to grow the barley right here in Hampshire. Our beers all have a unique story to tell, they are patriotic, truly local and most importantly, delicious and refreshing. Brewed by the expert brewers at Bowman Ales in Droxford.
With almost 20 years experience in producing real ale, and 40 years experience in farming, Martin knows what makes for a tasty brew at the end of a hard day's work.
Dick Olding - Master Brewer
Dick Olding brews beer on the premises for the 'Golden Lion' pub at Southwick, Hampshire.
The brand, Suthwyk Ales, is named using the old spelling of the historic village name, with the logo depicting the Southwick Priory ruins. Way back in 1150, the Canons of Portchester Castle established a Priory at 'Suthwyk', as it was then known. Following the Dissolution, the Priory gradually became the ruined wall remaining today, but the village of Southwick continued its rich historical journey.
Brewing was part of that history until 1957 when Dick Olding, the last Master Brewer retired and the Brewhouse door was closed behind him. It was his skills that ensured Generals Montgomery and Eisenhower, and the American troops billeted on surrounding farms were never denied a pint in the village pub as they planned ‘Operation Overlord’, the D-Day offensive, from Southwick House.
It is said, the odour was such that anyone entering the village with the slightest sense of smell would realize a "brew" was underway.
A "brewing" took place about every three months and required some six to eight 2cwt (approximately 100kg) sacks of hops up, passed the first floor to the loft and the grist mill. In addition, coal for the boiler had to be loaded and the spent grain removed for cattle feed.
Naturally all the equipment, such as the mill, copper, casings, mash tun, tanks, coolers, fermenting vats and barrels had to be cleaned and prepared. Despite the need for the helping hand of "muscle", "Old Dick" oversaw the various processes by himself, taking his secrets and tricks of the trade to the grave with him.
It was not unusual for a pub to go "hand in flagon" with a small brewery in days of yore, it is however almost unique to find the original building and implements still wholly intact.
Mr Olding, 81 years old in 1957 and whose family had lived in the village for several centuries would appear to have been the 'master of proceedings' since 1906. 'Old Dick' as he was fondly known, was well loved by one and all and (surprising) was a strict teetotaller. Despite this, if required, he would help behind the bar.
He was well remembered for wearing a trilby on 'best dressed days' and for 'journeying' on an old 'JAP' motorbike. Dick Olding used to produce sufficient brew for the tenants of both the Golden and Hunts off licence, situated in Kingston Road, Portsmouth. Between the Great Wars, two brews were made, the one known as five shilling and the other as seven shilling - the beer costing 5d and the ale 7d a pint. Yes, a pint, which in modern money would be about 2p and 3p! When Dick's bad leg played up, Mr Yoxall, a Hunt's employee from Portsmouth, travelled to Southwick to give him a hand. Brothers Fred and Tom Carter, members of a well known village family, were amongst the 'dedicated Dick Olding assistants'.
A Village At War
6th June 1944....
Nestling beneath the northern slopes of Portsdown Hill, the village of Southwick with its thatched roofs and half-timbered cottages remains largely unchanged from that day in June 1944 when this little Hampshire settlement became, quite literally, the centre of Operation Overlord.
It was at Southwick House, the elegant Georgian mansion and ancestral home of the Thistlethwayte family, that General Dwight D Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, made his historic and momentous decision committing three million men and 2,727 ships to the operation which turned the tide of World War II.
In the spring of 1944 the house became the forward headquarters for the Normandy invasion. The large, specially produced, wall map on which the progress of the Operation was plotted still remains; the room in which it stands is now part of the Officers Mess of Southwick Park.
In the village itself the lounge bar of the Golden Lion public house became the unofficial Officers’ Mess, where members of the planning staff, General Eisenhower, General Montgomery and other senior Allied Commanders, could relax over a beer from the Brewhouse.
The village of Southwick and Southwick Park join forces each year to commemorate the anniversary of D-Day by offering an exciting and unique opportunity for visitors from all over the world to breathe in the atmosphere of those historic days.
Restoring the Brewhouse
In 1972, Paul Stephens, a member of a Cornish brewing family, had the idea of restoring the brewhouse to museum condition. The scheme failed to materialise but the roof was retiled to prevent further decay.
In 1979, the Hampshire Buildings Preservation Trust approached the Southwick Estate offering assistance in restoring the brewhouse. A scheme was prepared, grants obtained, and agreement reached with Courages on the proviso that beer was not sold in competition with the Golden Lion Public House. Work began, the estate replacing the floor and the louvres in the windows.
In 1982, members of the Southampton University Industrial Archaeology Group met representatives of Southwick Estates to programme the restoration of the interior of the building and it's plant. This work was completed in 1985, including the repair of the mash tun and the refurbishing of the vertical boiler, the horizontal steam engine and pump.
A Commemorative Brew was held in June 1985, although it will no longer be producing beer, the Southwick Brewhouse provides an opportunity for those interested in industrial history to view a typical domestic brewhouse of the Victorian period.