Nethergate brewery began in 1986 in the Suffolk village of Clare before moving just a few miles down the road, over the river Stour and across the border into Essex in 2004. The brewery announced a change of ownership in October 2010 with plans of ‘creating a stronger brand identity and expanding into new markets‘. A year later it was named Good Pub Guide Brewery of the Year.
Old Growler is their flagship brew, an award winning porter with a label featuring their “famous British Bulldog, Old Growler”. The design has changed many times, most recently in 2009, with the size of the dog growing in each design. A local Cambridge pub, The Elm Tree, has amongst it’s collection of old beer bottles, a bottle of Old Growler that appears to date from around 1990 when it was labelled as an Old Ale of 5.8%. In 1994 the description changed to a Porter and in 1998 sugar was removed from the recipe and the abv dropped from 5.5% to 5%. More recently it has been labelled as a ‘special Porter’ and is now labelled as a 5.5% ‘robust, superior Porter’. Here are some of the changing faces of Old Growler:
The beer itself is a fantastic porter with a great mouthfeel, prickly on the tongue before the smooth roast malts follow, and I think I most enjoy the slightly stronger 5.5% ABV bottled brew over the 5% cask, which is nevertheless a great beer.