Bamburgh Castle is toasting a special anniversary with the launch of two beers dedicated to the Victorian philanthropist who helped to save it from ruin.
The special brews have been produced to honour North East hero Lord Armstrong, who 125 years ago put both his fortune and foresight to good use when he bought the castle, on the Northumberland coast, transforming it from a run-down shell into the beautifully restored stronghold it is today.
Lord Armstrong Amber and Bebbanburg Gold are a collaboration between Alnwick Brewery and the descendants of the 19th century Tyneside-born industrialist, scientist, inventor, and benefactor, who acquired the crumbling fortification in 1894 for the princely sum of £60,000 (£7.6m in today’s money).
William Watson-Armstrong — the fifth generation of the family to own Bamburgh Castle — said: “The two beers are a very special and unique way for people to toast the important part the first Lord Armstrong played in the history, both past and present, of a place that regularly tops the polls as one of the UK’s most recognisable and best-loved castles.”
‘Head brewer Phil Bell has excelled himself’
Jannick Genouw, Alnwick Brewery’s sales executive, said: “It has been a great opportunity for the brewery. William has been very involved in the development process, and [head brewer] Phil Bell has excelled himself.
“It would have been easy to just stick a label on a couple of our existing beers and market them under the Bamburgh Castle name, but that isn’t what anyone wanted. Instead, we have two truly unique beers.
“We are a small Northumberland microbrewery with a proud Northumberland heritage, and wherever possible we like to support local. It has been lovely to be involved in a venture celebrating the history of such an iconic Northumberland landmark.”
The Bebbanburg Gold uses the classic image of Bamburgh Castle perched atop its rocky outcrop, overlooking a wide expanse of dune-fringed sands, with the scene dramatically overlaid in attention- grabbing pink. The beer itself (Bebbanburg was Bamburgh’s Saxon name) is made with First Gold hops, giving a refreshing flavour and aroma, and full-bodied Maris Otter malt, with a hint of honey in the finish. It has an ABV of 4.2%.
Meanwhile, Lord Armstrong Amber (3.8% ABV) is a dry hoppy beer, with a refreshing citrus aftertaste.