Love Your Local: The Oaklead Brewing Company, Gosport

(l-r) Ed Anderson and Dave Pickersgill, co-owners of The Oakleaf Brewing Company, in Gosport
(l-r) Ed Anderson and Dave Pickersgill, co-owners of The Oakleaf Brewing Company, in Gosport

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A century ago marked the outbreak of the First World War.

Now a family brewers have decided to do something special to remember those who fought and died in battle.

The Oakleaf Brewing Company in Mumby Road, Gosport, has produced an Over The Top beer to commemorate the beginning of the conflict.

The drink is a Belgian-style red ale to reflect the colour of poppies and the fact battles during the four-year war were fought in Belgium.

Its bottle strength is seven per cent and on draught it’s slightly weaker at 5.3 per cent.

Brewery co-owner Dave Pickersgill, who served in the army for 25 years, came up with the idea after talking to friend and former warrant officer Andrew Poole.

Dave, 58, a former sergeant in The Royal Corps of Signals, said: ‘We got chatting and he said the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War was coming up.

‘I then thought it would be nice to do a beer to commemorate the occasion.’

‘As an ex-serviceman it’s always good to remember those who died in service to their country.

‘We are always trying to do something different and we like to do local things where we can.’

The beer has already been sold in pubs nationally and it’s anticipated local boozers can start selling it by the end of the week.

The bottled version is also due to be on sale imminently.

The design for the bottle is a black and white photo of soldiers going out of trenches, with three poppies in the corner.

Ed Anderson, 43, head brewer and Dave’s son-in-law, said: ‘It’s a completely different style of beer to what we have ever brewed before.

‘Plus doing it for such a noble reason makes it that much more exceptional.

‘I don’t have a service background but since meeting Dave’s daughter I have grown to understand the sacrifices made.

‘It’s important that we remember what has been done for us, for the sake of our freedom.’

The beer has already been brewed three times and it will be brewed again over the next four years in remembrance of the duration of the war.

Ed said: ‘There has already been a great response to the beer and I’m quite proud of it.’

The brewery has five staple beers as well as a range of seasonal and monthly specials.

Dave and Ed set up the brewery in March 2000, the same year Ed married his wife Gail.

The company’s first beer was brewed in December of that year.

Meet the owner

OAKLEAF’S co-owner Dave Pickersgill has spoken of his pride in the family-run brewery.

‘We are very proud of our business and it has gone from strength to strength,’ he said.

‘We are not in it to make huge amounts of money.

‘We started the business because we love beer.

‘We are in it for the passion as well as the money.’

Dave said he is always looking for ways to help contribute to the community, helped by the fact he was Gosport’s chairman of tourism for eight years.

Meanwhile, Oakleaf’s head brewer Ed Anderson is all geared up for the Portsmouth Beer Festival this September.

Ed is the financial controller for the event, which is being run by the Portsmouth and south-east Hampshire branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra).

As reported in The News, the real ale and cider bash is being held at the University of Portsmouth Students’ Union from September 5-6.

Camra has decided to revive the event, which was axed due to financial difficulties in 2010.

Ed said: ‘We are finalising the beer list and working on the festival programme.

‘Hopefully it will grow to be bigger and better than ever.

‘It’s been so long since we as Camra have done a beer festival.’

Tickets are now on sale at The Hole in The Wall, in Southsea, The Leopold Tavern, in Southsea, The Rose in June, in Copnor and from the student union.

Tickets can also be snapped up at Queen’s Hotel, in Gosport, and The Brewpot, which is Oakleaf’s shop in Gosport.