Truman’s London Keeper 1880 Export Stout
Ben Ott, Head Brewer at the New Truman’s Brewery
It was my privilege and delight to pop over to the new brewery at Hackney Wick last week and share a bottle of Truman’s London Keeper 1880 Double Export Stout wth Ben Ott, the Head Brewer. Unfortunately, he had almost emptied his glass by the time I came to take a picture, but I think Ben’s beatific smile gives an eloquent illustration of his pride and joy in this exciting new brew.
When Ben commenced brewing at Truman’s Brewery in Hackney Wick back in September, picking up from where the Brick Lane Brewery had left off twenty-four years ago, he realised that the first brew had to be special. For the first use of the original Truman’s yeast, that had been cryogenically preserved at the National Yeast Bank in Norwich, Ben adapted a recipe from a nineteenth century brewer’s record to create Truman’s London Keeper, brewing just two thousand bottles as trophies in celebration of this auspicious moment in East End brewing history
“It’s overwhelming when you go the archive, there’s quite a lot of really old Gyle books recording the brewing at Truman’s day by day,” Ben admitted to me, growing wide-eyed in wonder, “I looked for one that was one hundred years before my birth date but that turned out to be a Sunday, so then I looked at ninety-nine years before I was born – 19th April 1880 – and I found they were brewing a double export stout. I kept to the original gravity of 10/80 and I saw that there was so much pale malt, so much brown and so much black.” From this starting point, Ben researched the varieties of hops which were used at the time, seeking out modern strains with comparable qualities to compose his own recipe that would work for a contemporary taste.
If history was going to go into a bottle and be cherished, Ben decided champagne bottles should be employed, sealed with wax, and Baddeley Brothers - die-stampers and engravers who have been operating at the edge of the City of London since 1859 – were commissioned to print the labels. And James Morgan, the man responsible for the rebirth of Truman’s, signed every label alongside Ben as Head Brewer.
Truman’s London Keeper is a delicious brew for winter, warm and dark and tangy. If you love beer and the East End, then one of these bottles is the ideal keepsake – but maybe you will not be able to resist opening it for too long?
Each of the limited edition of two thousand bottles is signed by James Morgan, re-founder of Truman’s Beer and Ben Ott, Head Brewer
The Truman’s Gyle Book 0f 19th April 1880 that inspired Ben Ott to create Truman’s Keeper
Jack Hibberd of Truman’s Beer with Charles Pertwee of Baddeley Brothers
Printing the labels on the Original Heidelberg at Baddeley Brothers in Hackney
The last Truman’s Beer brewed in Brick Lane
Head Brewer, Ben Ott, with the first Truman’s Beer brewed at the new brewery in Hackney Wick
Baddeley Brothers photographs copyright © Colin O’Brien
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