CAMRA ‘dying’ without Revitalisation Project, says Wimbledon Brewery

By James Beeson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Experienced set-up: (l-r) Wimbledon managing director David Bateman, founder Mark Gordon and head brewer Derek Prentice
Experienced set-up: (l-r) Wimbledon managing director David Bateman, founder Mark Gordon and head brewer Derek Prentice
Wimbledon Brewery founder Mark Gordon has become the latest industry figure to back the Campaign For Real Ale’s (CAMRA) Revitalisation Project, stating that the organisation needs to “evolve or die”.

In an interview with The Morning Advertiser​, Gordon backed CAMRA’s proposals to widen its remit and promote all forms of good beer, but insisted his brewery would never stop making cask ale.

"It [the Revitalisation Project] is great, and it's something they had to do really,” he said. “The organisation was dying a little bit without it, and everything was getting a little bit too dusty.

“Our reputation has been built around cask ale, but a lot of what we do, and for me the more interesting stuff we do, is in keg and small pack. So I think it is great; it was either evolve or die for them.”

When asked if this meant that Wimbledon Brewery would be focusing more predominantly on keg and small pack beer from now on, Gordon said: "We will always do cask, but it is difficult to scale up in cask to the extent we want. For us, small pack is the prime target.”

Young's beer training

Despite this shift in emphasis, Wimbledon Brewery has recently welcomed​ more than 100 members of Young’s pub estate to its brewery for a training day, as part of an ongoing commitment to cask quality. Gordon explained that “churn [of pub staff] in the market” meant that regular in-house brewery training was essential for good cellarmanship.

"One of the reasons a lot of micros say they have stopped cask is that there are constantly issues around the product not being served properly,” he said. “There is a lot of churn in the market, people come and go, and what tends to happen is that a bad cellarman passes on their incorrect knowledge and before you know it is watered down and nobody knows what they are doing.

"We've had a relationship with Young's since we started. They were one of the first people to stock our beer and, of course, Derek [Prentice – Wimbledon head brewer] had a long history at Young's. They have an ongoing commitment to training and to try and keep interest levels for the cellarmen they sent them to come and see us. That kind of regular training is essential.”

Future international growth

Gordon also highlighted plans for the business’s international growth, and his ambitions to turn the Wimbledon Brewery’s Gold lager into “a flagship English beer”.

“The international market is where we want to grow predominately this year,” he said. “Before Wimbledon [tennis] Championship starts this year, I want to be in five different countries. The advantage we have is that the name Wimbledon has an immediate English association.

“There isn't a flagship English beer internationally, and a lot of that is to do with the flavour profile I think,” he continued. “Some 90% of the world's drinkers are lager drinkers. We do a lager, so that is what we will push internationally – Wimbledon Gold and the soon-to-be brewed Wimbledon Pale. They will be our international shock troops."

The brewery has also recently hired​ David Bateman as its first managing director. Gordon said that Bateman would bring “business acumen” to a rapidly growing company, and signalled his intention for further recruitment to “meet the ambitions” of the brewery. 

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