Back to the pub for some superb summer beers

Rob Clarke, John Thurlow and Bob Underwood at Two Bob Brewing.

Rob Clarke, John Thurlow and Bob Underwood at Two Bob Brewing. - Credit: Roger Protz

You can’t beat a pint in a pub! After a year or more of drinking bottled and canned beers at home, it’s good to be able to go back to pubs, even if full opening has been delayed. 

There’s a bountiful supply of golden and refreshing beers to tempt you – and we can also welcome a new brewery in the area. 

Two Bob Brewing Company, a few miles outside Old Welwyn, is up and running and has a tasty Gold beer for the warm weather. Running a small brewery was the dream of Rob Clarke, a home brewer for more than 20 years, and his chum Bob Underwood – the Two Bobs. They teamed up with John Thurlow, another keen home brewer, who had some small buildings available on a patch of land next to his home. 

When they heard that Northern Monk Brewery was selling its pilot brewery, where new beers were developed, the trio rushed to Leeds to buy the one-barrel kit. They got a licence to brew in February, spent several months making trial brews and are now fully operational. 

The beers are available on draught at the Plough in Datchworth and bottled versions can be bought using The team use only the finest English ingredients: Maris Otter malting barley from Norfolk and Archer, Jester and East Kent Goldings hops. They are in talks with a neighbouring farmer who may supply them with his barley: Hertfordshire grain enjoys a fine reputation and would add local lustre to the beers. 

Three beers are produced at present: Gold, Porter and EPA, standing for English Pale Ale. An India Pale Ale is planned. Gold, a fine summer refresher, is made with pale, wheat and caramel malts – the caramel adds a delicious hint of butterscotch. 

Farr Brew conjures up many play-on-words: two summer beers are Farr and Away and Farr Apart and it’s true to say that you’re never Farr from one of the brewery’s pubs as it busily expands its number of outlets.  Founded by Nick Farr and Matt Elvidge on a farm near Wheathampstead, they now have pubs in Hatfield and Harpenden and have just added one in Slip End over the border in Bedfordshire.

A selection of Marks & Spencer craft beers.

A selection of Marks & Spencer craft beers. - Credit: M&S

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I enjoyed two summer beers in the spacious gardens of the Elephant and Castle in Amwell. Both beers – Farr and Away and Farr Apart -- use American hops Amarillo, Cascade and Mosaic that give a delicious and refreshing citrus note to aroma and palate. 

The beers are also on sale in the Red Cow in Harpenden and the heavily beamed and historic Eight Bells in Hatfield with Charles Dickens and Dick Turpin connections. 

Farr Brew beers are also on sale in another historic pub, the Olde Fighting Cocks in St Albans, which is officially Britain’s oldest hostelry.  

Also on the bar is the IPA brewed by the 3 Brewers who are also based on a farm at Symonds Hyde between Hatfield and St Albans. Mark Fanner of 3 Brewers says sales of IPA are “flying” and I know why. It was the first draught beer I sampled when pubs were allowed to serve outside and it’s certainly a tasty drop with a fine balance of malt and hops. 

The 3 Brewers’ beers are also on sale at the Six Bells and the Lower Red Lion in St Albans. The brewery created great interest when it reproduced beers using recipes from Pryor Reid, a brewery in Hatfield that closed in the 1920s and was the biggest employer in the town. 

Mad Squirrel at Potten End near Berkhamsted is yet another Herts brewery based on a farm. It now has a bar, the Mad Squirrel Tap, in Heritage Close, St Albans, where you can quaff a delicious Big Sea IPA, brewed with three American hops: Chinook, Citra and Simcoe. The beer brims with delicious mango and tropical fruit notes and is ideal for summer drinking with fine views of the abbey. 

The beer is also on sale in canned form in Morrisons. Marks & Spencer has launched a range of summer beer from three leading craft breweries: Harbour Helles Lager, Vocation American Pale Ale, and IPA and FourPure Session IPA and Citrus Pale Ale.