How To Explore Craft Beer In Marlow, England

things to do in marlow

By Anthony Bain, Epicure & Culture Contributor

It’s a typically damp and cold English night in Marlow, a small riverside town nestled comfortably in the Chiltern Hills 40 miles North West of London.

Three hundred thirsty patrons have converged on the local Rebellion Microbrewery to participate in the launch of a new range of winter beers being added to their seasonal selection. The crowd is made up of local beer drinkers and hop enthusiasts who have gathered to attend an official open night event held on the first Tuesday of every month where people can visit to sample the beers and tour the brewery.

Roasted Nuts” and “Finest Hour” are the names of the two ales that are being launched tonight. “Roasted Nuts” is a crisp and hoppy blend of “Maris Otter” pale ale and chocolate malt, while “Finest Hour” is a blonde beer combining Liberty, Mosaic and Amarillo hops. It’s named in honor of Winston Churchill’s famous WWII speech.

things to do in marlow

An Organic Undertaking

The brewery was founded by Tim Coombes and Mark Gloyens, launched in 1987 when large-scale British brewing companies went into decline. They saw an opportunity to keep the local Marlow brewing tradition alive when the beloved Wethered Brewery — which produced beer from 1758 until 1987 — was forced to close its doors in the late 1980s due to a decreased demand for British produced beer (vs imported brews). You’ll even find some favorite historic recipes from Wethered Brewery at Rebellion today.

Says Coombes, “The beauty and enjoyment of brewing on a small scale means that brewing remains an art, as opposed to the clinical science that it has become with commercial brewing giants. We take pride in producing 70,000 pints a week, and that the beer is sold in a 30-mile radius. Our beers are non-filtered and non-pasteurized, and the brewing process is completely natural and organic.”

Love craft #beer? The charming town of #Marlow in #England is not to be missed! Click To Tweet

They use traditional brewing methods dating back to the Middle Ages. Because they don’t use any chemicals or unnatural additives during the brew process the beers don’t have the same shelf life as many larger brands (three weeks once the barrel has been opened); however, what it lacks in long-term storage it makes up for in taste and quality. For this reason, Rebellion Microbrewery only services the Marlow region.

When Rebellion Brewery opened they purchased 2nd hand equipment from around Marlow. Rebellion have continued to grow, changing premises to a local farm and upgrading their brewing facilities. They also recycle spent grains from the brewing process — which are very nutritious — to feed their farm animals.

things to do in marlow

Dried orange peel is just one tasty ingredient local brewers are experimenting with (mentioned below). Photo via charloisporto/Pixabay.com

A Growing Trend

The number of United Kingdom breweries has risen 8% in the past year, and craft brewing is beginning to push aside more commercial and imported beers. This has led to a rise in small-scale brewers. And if you’re looking for things to do in Marlow, this is especially true here. The Fisher’s Brewing Co in nearby High Wycombe, just a few miles up the road from the Rebellion Brewery, is a start-up venture begun as a response to the high demand of local pubs wanting to add more craft beers to their menus.

The microbrewery is owned by Mike Fisher, who started his company after receiving a home brewing kit for his birthday. “From there I discovered the alchemy of brewing. I realized you can literally create anything you want from a combination of raw ingredients at a very low cost.”

Mike has experimented with different ingredients including peppercorn and dried orange peel, a traditional French brewing technique used to produce “Bière de Garde,” which translates to a “Beer for Keeping.” He also plans to use rosemary and pine flavorings in the future. Mike is planning to launch three craft beers in keg and bottle and three traditional ales by cask and bottle, with the idea of selling to local pubs as well as from a shop at the brewery site.

things to do in marlow

Sips That Change With The Season

Raw hops and malt materials used by microbreweries vary from season to season. One challenge brewers face is constantly being able to develop and enhance the flavor and character of the beers with seasonal variations. During winter they tend to use stronger malty hops with rich chocolatey flavor, while during the warmer months the lighter golden pale ale hops are more popular.

These #Marlow breweries are revolutionizing craft #beer in #England! Here's how Click To Tweet

There’s also water to consider, though luckily the local water extracted from the surrounding Chiltern Hills has the right mineral and salt composition to produce high-quality beer. The water is filtered through the landscape’s lovely chalk downlands, which act as the perfect filter for impurities. From there, the necessary salts and minerals are added back to create the specific beer style that gives a clean crisp taste.

By the way, Chiltern Hills is an area of outstanding natural beauty; dotted with market towns and small hamlets. It’s also a breeding ground for local breweries of course, some others of which include Malt the Brewery and The Chiltern Brewery.

things to do in marlow

Photo via The Hand & Flowers

Beer Pairing, Anyone?

Gastropubs have in turn also experienced a surge in popularity. If you’re looking for other tasty things to do in Marlow, Chef Tom Kerridge of the BBC program The Great British Menu has a 2-Michelin star restaurant called The Hand & Flowers in the local village. The venue offers modern takes on classic British pub dishes, like a local Stokes Marsh Farm beef fillet with Béarnaise sauce, and chicken roasted in beer served with a side of citrus braised chicory pumpkin and gowned in a maple and coffee purée.

For those who are not prepared to join the 12-month waiting list, he also offers a stripped down British menu in his pub just down the road at The Coach. Chef Kerridge is a great believer in farm-to-table — for both food and drink. In both of his restaurants your your meal can be paired with beers from local breweries like Rebellion for a truly local taste of Marlow.

What are things to do in Marlow are there for the beer enthusiast? Please share in the comments below! 

Further Exploration:

You Need To Know These Groundbreaking Female Brewers & Industry Leaders [Blog Inspiration]

The Beer Bible [Great Reads]

Mr. Beer Homebrewing Kit [Beer Fun]

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After studying at the London School of Journalism. Anthony Bain has spent the last 12 years living in Barcelona and sharing his writing about the city for such publications as The Barcelona Metropolitan. He has also published short stories for Papertape magazine and Ky Story. He has recently been nominated for the Pushcart Literary Prize and his first travel book "Wanderings Along the Camino" is available on Amazon.

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