Saturday, 13 February 2021

Do you remember drinking Friary Meux?

 


For the past six months or so, I've been digging for information on the Friary Brewery in Guildford. In 1956 it merged with the Meux brewery to become Friary Meux, and was taken over by Allied Brewers in 1964.

Deep Google searches and newspaper archives are bringing up lots of fascinating stuff on the history of the brewery, but it's much more difficult to find any material on the beers themselves.

So I thought I'd put out an appeal. Do you remember drinking Friary Meux beers

Any first-hand recollections would be hugely appreciated. Leave a comment, or if you prefer, drop me a line at joetindall at hotmail dot com. 

23 comments:

  1. Do you mean the Friary Meux branded beers reintroduced by Ind Coope in 1980, or the pre Allied beers?

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    1. If I recall correctly the same beer across the whole Allied estate at 1037. Often brewed in the original breweries and branded with the regional names - F Meux, Taylor Walker and so on (CAMRA's 1982 Good Beer Guide list thme). But if I am right, the same recipe acroos the group? Rather than original recipes? That may be incorrect, memory fading. A pleasant enough bitter that was weclome because it saw cask beer reintroduced to pubs where it had not been on offer.

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    2. Thanks John. A few sources back you up - an old London Drinker article says the beers were 'paired' and Friary was the same beer as Benskins.

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    3. A late reply as I've only just seen the post. I worked at the Guildford Brewery for a few months before it closed down in the late 60s. Just for interest, we were allowed 2 pints of beer daily in specially marked bottles to take home and then swap 1 for 1 for a full one. Seem to remember it was always bitter and a good pint.

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  2. Hi Malcolm. Anything branded Friary Meux - definitely interested in how people remember the beers brewed at Ind Coope.

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    1. I can remember Friary Meux sitting alongside Burton Draught in the early 80's; both were excellent but it was easier to say "pint of Burton Please" than... "pint of Friary meow/maux" (or however it was/is meant to be pronounced!)and the Burton was a much better beer anyway in my opinion. Just imagine having that choice today?!

      The Friary shopping Centre at Guildford was built on the site of the Brewery, hence the name I guess.

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  3. I've analyses of about 250 Meux beers, plus some Friary Holroyd and Friary Meux. The earliest is from 1854, but most are 1922 to 1960. You're welcome to them.

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  4. Amazing Ron, thanks so much!

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    1. Friary Holroyd and Friary Meux today:
      https://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/2021/02/friary-holroyd-and-friary-meux-beers.html

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. That'd be great - is there an email address I could reach you on? Thanks!

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  6. Here you go:
    http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/2021/02/meux-beers-1854-1960.html

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  7. The reintroduced Friary Meux Bitter was in fact originally brewed at Romford, along with Benskins Bitter and Taylor Walker Bitter (Ind Coope Bitter was brewed at both Burton and Romford). As well as Ind Coope Bitter and Halls Harvest Bitter, Burton brewed ABC (Aylesbury Brewery Company) Bitter. In 1986, all production of cask beer was concentrated at Burton, and the Ind Coope, Friary Meux, Benskins,Taylor Walker and ABC beers became "Best Bitter", with the recipes apparently tweaked. As well as draught Bitter/Best Bitter, there was a bottled Friary Meux Light Ale, a bottled Treble Gold, and a keg Drum Mild.

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    1. Thanks John, very helpful :)

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    2. Would you be interested in exchanging a couple of emails on this again please John?

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    3. No problem. I've sent you an e-mail.

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  8. Nichollscheshire@aol.com although John's memories different to mine, I must be becoming addled in old age.

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  9. Hi Joe

    I have some experience with both selling and drinking Friary Meux, working at the King’s Arms & Royal Hotel in Godalming. I worked there for a few months, from early autumn 1998 until just after New Year 1999. At that stage the King’s Arms was owned by Allied Domeq and had one of their management training centres located in what was the pub’s former stable block.

    Friary was our ‘ordinary’ bitter, being sold alongside Ind Coope Burton Ale, Marston’s Pedigree and a guest ale which was usually a Brain’s beer (for some reason) – either S.A. or Oddball. It was the cheapest on the bar, from memory about £1.05. For this reason it was particularly popular with the retired gents who’d come in for a few pints at lunchtime and while away the afternoon. A couple of them used to drink it as a light-and-bitter, with half of Friary in a pint glass and a bottle of Courage Light Ale to top up. Never having seen that done, I even tried it myself a few times, to some mockery from the other bar staff for having an ‘old fart’s’ drink.

    The bar did a steady trade in Friary, although the most popular cask was the Burton Ale. Mick the landlord had won a cellarman’s award for keeping it, and it was always in top condition. After initial experimentation, I never bothered with Friary much, finding it a bit bland compared to Burton Ale or Oddball.

    Allied Domeq agreed to sell their UK pubs to Whitbread in the summer of 1999. Although I didn’t drink there regularly once I’d changed jobs, I’m pretty certain the Friary pump wasn’t around for much longer. Might have made it in to the 21st century, but only just.

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  10. I drank it in a few different pubs in East Grinstead in 1985, probably underage... I developed quite a taste for it. I live in the US - found this forum trying to figure out if it is still made and golly gee, could I get my paws on some? Seems unlikely.

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  11. Has the Friary Brass Band anything to do with the beer?

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  12. @Geoff - yes it does! It was the brewery's brass band back when breweries had things like brass bands, football teams etc. The band outlived the brewery!

    @Unknown - weirdly someone spotted a keg nitro bitter branded Friary Meux in 2016 but I'm sure that has nothing to do with the beer you drank in 1985 (the brand is still owned by Carlsberg). So no I'm afraid you won't be able to taste it again :(

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