12 March 1999

Tempting tipple is revived

THE Gardeners Tap is a new beer now on sale in the farm shop at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. Behind the unusual name is a tale of cunning ingenuity employed by the estate workers of yesteryear to obtain a pint of free ale.

In the 18th century the stately home used to make its own beer in a brewery which was part of the stables. In those days an allowance of two pints a day formed part of the mens wages.

When the brewers got tired of rolling the beer over to the great house in barrels it was decided to sink a lead pipe connected to the cellars. This ran through the garden and under a greenhouse.

The thought of ale beneath their feet proved too much of a temptation for the workers. They secretly tapped into it and helped themselves to a pint when it was flowing. The tap was discovered in the 1950s when the pipe was ripped up for salvage.

It was farm shop manager Sandy Boyd who decided to revive the brewing tradition on the estate, which ended in 1939, after a chance remark led him to do some research on its history.

"We have always sold small breweries beers. We launched it last November and it has gone very well in the shop. It is possible it will be on draught in local pubs," he said.

Another beer, Apostles Ale is named after the huge oak barrels in the cellar, known as the 12 Apostles, where the brew was aged. The barrels still exist but the wood has dried and shrunk and they can no longer be used.

Greenhouse whitewash has been used to paint the name "The Gardeners Tap" on the bottles. The presentation box carries a caricature of the present head gardener, Jim Link.

The beer has been approved by Chatsworths present team of 25 gardeners and workers but there is no chance of them imitating their forebears. It is brewed 40 miles away in Newark.

Tom Montgomery