Hampshire brewers unveil plan to make beer in celebration of Portsmouth Tour de France bid

Tony Scardarella, left, and Erik Van Dongen from the Hop Art brewery in Farnham
Tony Scardarella, left, and Erik Van Dongen from the Hop Art brewery in Farnham

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Sporty brewers have thrown their support behind the bid to host the opening leg of the Tour de France in Portsmouth.

Hop Art Brewery says it would love to produce a ‘Grand Depart’ beer for visitors who would come to the region to watch the spectacle in 2019.

We could go with a continential beer – a belgian or French style blonde. This is a summer event so that style of beer would work.

Tony Scardarella, of Hop Art Brewery

The Hampshire firm, which has beers stocked in pubs across Southsea and Gosport, is also open to making something beforehand celebrating efforts being made by regional leaders to host the event.

Brewery co-owner Tony Scardarella is eager to support the cause as he’s a keen cyclist and thinks the attraction would bring huge benefits to the region, including the pub industry.

The ale lover has taken part in various L’Étape du Tours, an event that allows amateur cyclists to race over the same route as a Tour de France stage.

Tony said: ‘I have a passion for the sport, I’ve followed it for years.

‘We could go with a continental beer – a Belgian or French style blonde.

‘This is a summer event so that style of beer would work.

‘We would want to make something that’s light and refreshing for people.’

Tour supporters have already revealed they would like elite cyclists to ride from the city to the South Downs, before heading to the beaches of Normandy where troops – many of whom were from this area – landed.

Tony said: ‘It’s a fantastic route and takes in a lot of fantastic countryside.

‘Everyone, from a racing point of view, want to see hills.

‘The South Downs offers some lovely opportunities.

‘What you don’t want is a completely flat race.’

He added: ‘Cycling has seen a huge surge in popularity.’

Tony set up his brewery, in Bentley, East Hampshire, around a year ago with his partner and head brewer, Erik Van Dongen.

Tony said: ‘Erik and I began to trial different beers and prototypes from a building in my back garden.

‘We realised they were proving to be very popular with people and we were receiving a lot of great feedback, so we took the plunge and formed the brewery.’

The firm began brewing in February 2015.

It’s gone from strength to strength ever since – and in December its Hoppy Blonde brew featured at the Portsmouth Beer Festival: Christmas Sessions, at Portsmouth Guildhall, alongside scores of other beers across the area.

The brewery’s beers can be found in venues including Meat and Barrel, The Lord Palmerston, both in Palmerston Road, Southsea, and The Leopold Tavern, in Albert Road, Southsea.