The Foundry brew pub in Canterbury recently opened to a fanfare of approval from lovers of real ale. PE didn’t need much of an excuse to visit. But, OK, here it is: the site of the micro-brewery used to be part of Drury & Biggleton’s foundry. In Victorian times the firm made items as diverse as lamp-posts and one of the earliest torpedoes, designed by Admiral Harvey.
The foundry worked with iron, brass, steel, tin and aluminium. In its early years it made machinery for the drying rooms at paper mills in nearby Chartham. In the 1850s, during the construction of the South Eastern Railway, it supplied girders for bridges and the chairs for the sleepers of the railway lines between Ashford, Margate and Deal, according to a local history group. When the line between London, Chatham and Dover was built between 1858 and 1860, the foundry supplied water tanks and bridge work.
Harvey’s torpedo, one of the first ever made, was built at the works in the middle of Canterbury. According to the historical society, the prototype was not self-propelled but was towed out from Herne Bay for testing. The aim was to discharge it at a hulk. Something went wrong, however, and it exploded prematurely, shattering hundreds of windows onshore. More peaceful projects that the foundry engaged in included manufacturing the first fountain pen from tin.
Jon Mills, the Foundry pub’s proprietor, is well aware of the site’s engineering heritage. “We take considerable inspiration from that,” he says on a chilly day when the cosiness of the two-storey brewery is welcome. “It’s given us a beautiful 19th-century building and an entrepreneurial spirit that informs what we do.” Mills has run hostelries in the local area for years.
Brewing at the Foundry – 450 gallons of beer a week are produced – is carried out by Mills and his colleague Tom Sharkey. Sipping a pint, it’s possible to watch the beer being made.
Real ales include Foundry Man’s Gold, Foundry Torpedo and Street Light Porter. Ciders and lagers are also available as well as craft beers in kegs. There is a food menu and you can dine downstairs or in a convivial space on the first floor. Our reporter sampled a bit of everything over the course of his visit, leading to a marked deterioration in his handwriting.
If you’re an engineer with a liking for real ale, you will find that the Foundry agreeably combines two of your enthusiasms. It’s well worth paying a visit.
On the trail of heritage ale
Kelham Island Brewery opened in 1990 in one of the oldest industrial areas in Sheffield, which has seen many changes through the centuries. Recently the area has had something of a regeneration while still retaining its architectural appeal. Tours of the brewery are on offer.
Beer has been brewed in Faversham for more than 850 years. The Shepherd Neame Brewery, in the heart of this historic Kentish town, is open to visitors who wish to discover more about an independent family company and its beers.
Drink to victory
Spitfire is Shepherd Neame’s biggest-selling, award-winning cask-conditioned ale. Originally brewed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, Spitfire ale has protected geographical indication – like champagne and Parma ham.
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