A LOCAL vintage ale, which lay forgotten for 35 years, has gone on sale at supermarket chain, Aldi.
The Bateman's Vintage Ale is based on a 1976 vintage bottle of Bateman's BBB which was brewed for more than 50 years at the family run and owned brewery in Wainfleet.
Around 35 years ago, the family made the decision to stop brewing and bottling their barley wine – BBB – to concentrate on draught ale. At the end of the last bottling run George Bateman, then managing director, took the last four cases with the intention of opening them to toast his eldest son Stuart's twenty-first birthday, four years on.
Over time the bottles were forgotten, and it wasn't until just over a year ago that the stash of ale came to light, when a bottle exploded of its own accord.
As the head draftsman cleared up the mess and dragged the remaining bottles out from where they had been hidden for 35 years, Stuart, now in his 50s, discovered the treat his dad had saved for him decades before.
Stuart, who is now managing director, said: "When we found the ale I was incredibly touched by the sentiment of my dad all those years ago. Looking at the bottles though, I didn't hold out much hope of anything other than vinegar.
"But once we'd managed to remove the rusty crown cap and poured the ale into a glass I was surprised to see it was clean and clear.
"Sipping it down, the taste was out of this world – it was malty, beery with a wonderful taste of port, brandy, wine and almonds. Having worked in this industry for more than 30 years I would still say it is the best beer I've ever tasted.
"That's why we've chosen to recreate the ale this Christmas so that hundreds of others can taste this amazing piece of history.
"I'll be enjoying mine with some Christmas pudding."
Over the course of six months, Stuart and the master brewer matched the flavours perfectly using old brew records and multiple tastings. Then, seven months ago, the current vintage was put into conditioning in oak casks for a distinctive character, thereby creating a limited release of the Bateman's Vintage Ale.
The ale, which has been made from a single variety of hops grown in Kent, is described as "full flavoured with notes of plum pudding and sherry mixed with rich fruits" and reminiscent of beers fashionable in the Dickensian era.
The beer went on sale exclusively at Aldi stores nationwide on Thursday and is available while stocks last.
The ale is also available at Batemans visitor centre and 25 barrels of draught Vintage Ale is going out to Batemans pubs.
Managing director of buying at Aldi, Tony Baines, said: "Aldi has had a strong working relationship with Bateman's for eight years now and when Stuart approached us to sell this ale on an exclusive basis we knew it was something our customers would enjoy.
"The beer is like nothing else on the market with its incredible taste of Christmas – and has a wonderful story behind it too."