MARC WEST discovers there’s something brewing after a group of lawyers quit the chambers for a life creating craft ales

Heard the one about the lawyers who quit their day jobs and started a brewery? Well, it's actually no fact it’s got a very serious social message indeed. Hidden within a small unit on a non-descript industrial estate on the western edge of our city these three entrepreneurial youngsters have created a veritable wonderland for craft connoisseurs.

With a little help from their friends at Bethnal Green’s Redchurch Brewery, this 1,000 litre open-plan outfit now resembles a giant chemistry laboratory - like the one you used at school, except these experiments are much more fun! With a focus on the highest quality from start to finish, it’s a long process, but one where the fruits of the labour go down exceptionally well at the end of a hard day.

Using the traditional infusion mashing technique and the best available malted barley, cereals and hops (from Oxfordshire farms, naturally), these new kids on the block demonstrate an in-depth knowledge expertly mixed with a modern approach to the ancient art of brewing. Having learnt his trade back home in the US of A’s burgeoning home brew phenomenon, award-winning head brewer Jason Bolger’s currently concocting a number of Belgian-style sour beers that’ll really tickle your taste buds - and no doubt lead the next wave of the UK craft scene.

And, not only do they create some delicious tipples, but this active movement also plan to provide training and employment opportunities to people in the criminal justice system. Youngsters from Cookham Wood YOI have already created original artwork for the delightfully colourful bottle labels and in just a few weeks the first of these marginalised members of our community will start a programme of rehabilitation that’s the first of it’s kind anywhere.

Frustrated by the lack of opportunities for people “stuck in the system”, criminal barrister Paul Humpherson and his co-founders Tess and Amy Taylor want to set a precedence in their newly-chosen industry - by offering fully accredited qualifications for co-workers who’ll be learning the ropes alongside them. Tap Social Movement’s research found that the brewing industry is actually very open-minded and so they couldn’t imagine a better environment to begin breaking down social barriers….and ripping up the mixology rule book.

Everything in their core range is criminally good. But, it’s their distinctively tart sour ales for which they’re becoming best known. By using seasonal fruits, Bleeding Heart Numbskulls’ flavours will change and evolve with every batch. The current prominent thyme aroma cuts the sweetness of fresh cranberries making a unique drinking experience. However, for me, it’s definitely Big Boy Pants that’s going to be the taste of summer 2017. With a complex citrus palette and low ABV it’s ideal for a session - like these welcoming weekly gatherings.

Those in the know make a regular pilgrimage to this Prohibition-style drinking den for dudes - who’re all here for the beer. I could’ve kept this newly discovered gem all for myself, but good times are meant for sharing, so I'll let you in on the secret. Located in Unit 27 on North Hinksey Lane, the taproom is open every Friday and Saturday from 4pm. And, on March 3rd there’ll be live music into the wee hours from Botley’s finest (and only) prog-rock covers band, so I’d suggest booking a cab for the ride home. Cheers!