John in Wandsworth is 41-50 and is Brewer.
John is a passionate connoisseur of beer and brewing. From a very young age he worked for the award-winning Young’s which brewed its beer at The Ram, the oldest brewery in the country with records going back to 1533.
In 2006, Youngs announced that they had sold the site to property developers. John was stunned that this crucial part of British brewing history was going to be lost, and offered to keep the brewery going on a smaller scale. In the nine years since, he has brewed one batch of beer every week on a non-commercial basis to keep the records going until the site is redeveloped with a new micro-brewery.
John is still brewing in his makeshift brewery, where donations from visitors keep the beer flowing. As the site has been used regularly as a filming location, guests to the brewery have included the cast and crew of Misfits, Ashes to Ashes, Silent Witness and Cockneys Versus Zombies. He also holds regular comedy nights in his sample room.
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Questions & Answers
- What's your first memory of London? I came her first as a school boy on a trip to the Natural History Museum and I didn’t come back here for a long time until the beginning of my brewing career. John Young was the first real campaigner for cask ale and I love cask ale, so the chance to work for him was more than I could resist.
- What do you miss when you're away from London? The beer.
- What's your favourite neighbourhood? Wandsworth - it’s the Ram brewery that brought me here and it’s still the Ram brewery which has got a huge place in my heart. Every day I come to work I get a buzz just being here.
- What's your favourite building? The porter tun room at the Ram Brewery. It’s the first porter tun room in the country, porter being the first mass produced beer. I quite like the fact that nobody knows how or when it was built.
- What's your ideal day out in London? The Royal Albert Hall.
- What's your ideal night out in London? At the Royal Albert Hall again, a night at the Proms.
- What's your most hated building? 60s tower blocks, like Sudbury House, opposite this brewery.
- What's the best view in London? There’s a fantastic view from the top of our Victorian brewhouse, but my personal favourite view is across the wobbly bridge to St Pauls.
- What's your favourite open space? Kensington Gardens, across from the Royal Albert Hall. I’ve sat there on many occasions waiting for the Proms to start.
- What's your favourite bar, pub or restaurant? The Brewery Tap pub on the corner of the brewery itself, built in 1883. As a junior brewer I was almost starving and the brewers would take me there for a half pint and a sandwich and lunchtime. It’s been mothballed since the brewery closed but it’s going to reopen.
- What's the most interesting shop? Just next to the brewery there’s a fantastic tool shop called Belton and Slade. No matter what I’ve asked for in the last 26 years he’s always got exactly what I want. He’s unbeatable.
- What's been your most memorable night out in London? Going to see Phantom of the Opera.
- How would you like to spend your ideal day off in London? All the things I haven’t done - there’s still some museums and parks I haven’t explored.
- Where would you take someone visiting from out of town? The brewery and then I’d ask them what they’d like to see.
- What's the worst journey you've had to make in London? Two winters ago, the snow was so bad that I couldn’t drive and all the trains were cancelled and I had to walk fourteen miles to get to the brewery.
- What's your personal London landmark? The Ram brewery.
- Who's your favourite fictional Londoner? Sherlock Holmes.
- What's your favourite London film, book or documentary? Cockneys Vs Zombies - lots of it was filmed on the site and I had a very small part in it! Otherwise, A Clockwork Orange - mind-blowingly good.
- If you could travel to any time period in London, past or future, where would you go? I’d love to go back to see the way that London grew, it’s fascinating the ways that things have changed.
- For you, who is the ultimate Londoner? John Young, a heroic fighter pilot, the head of many charities, and the patron saint of cask beer. An amazing bloke who passed away the day before the final Youngs brew. My favourite man of all time, I think.