Arkell’s Brewery celebrates 180th year

By Ben Carey on 10 February, 2023

Arkell’s Brewery is marking its 180th birthday in 2023.

Since 1843 the brewery, which owns close to 100 pubs in and around Swindon, has been brewing at its original site founded by John Arkell. 

The family brewery is one of the oldest businesses in Swindon and one of the UK’s last remaining Victorian tower steam breweries.

The company is marking the milestone with a number of activities throughout the year, starting with a visit from the High Sheriff of Wiltshire, Fiona Shelburne, The Marchioness of Lansdowne.

Alex Arkell, Head Brewer and sixth-generation of the Arkell family, took the High Sheriff on a tour and gave an overview of the traditional brewing methods put in place by his ancestors. 

The High Sheriff helped ‘mash in’ – an important early step in the brewing process, setting underway the brewing of Arkell’s 180th anniversary celebratory brew named Tradition (3.4% ABV).

Alex said, “We put together a recipe blending some old and new ideas. The beer is an easy drinking deep red session beer with a warming fruit biscuity base, this comes from using Rye which was often used in our old brew books. We’ve then rounded this off with a hop aroma of mango and peach which I don’t think you’d have seen much of 180 years ago. A perfect blend of old and new!” 

Following the brewhouse tour, the High Sheriff of Wiltshire unveiled a commemorative plaque.   

Managing Director, George Arkell, said, “It is an honour to have this visit from the High Sheriff and share with her the great heritage of our family brewery.  We are extremely proud of both our family history and our traditional methods of brewing.  Onto the next 180 years. Cheers!“

A selection of special activities are planned for 2023 during the brewery’s 180th year, these include an ale trail competition around Arkell’s pubs, weekly brewery tours for the public starting in February, and a Big Birthday Bash in September with live music and plenty of beers to sample.  

Pictured: Arkell’s Brewery Directors & Staff gather with The High Sheriff of Wiltshire for the plaque unveiling.