Wellingborough brewery’s Mannock beer honours WWI flying ace

Flyer beer brewed by Hart Family Brewers
Flyer beer brewed by Hart Family Brewers

A one-off beer brewed by a Wellingborough brewery to commemorate a First World War hero was so successful it will be brewed again.

Hart Family Brewers made Flyer for the Waendel beer festival in honour of the town’s flying ace Major Mick Mannock VC and is now planning to brew another batch later this month.

Rob and Sarah Hart with their Harts Brewers 1833 India Pale Ale, which won best artisan local drink of the year in food and drink awards. ENGNNL00120131022155001

Rob and Sarah Hart with their Harts Brewers 1833 India Pale Ale, which won best artisan local drink of the year in food and drink awards. ENGNNL00120131022155001

Rob Hart, who owns the brewery with his wife Sarah, said: “This year is the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War so we decided to brew a beer for the Waendel beer festival named after a character from Wellingborough’s history and it seemed pertinent to pick a war hero.

“We were attracted by his story. Everyone thinks of flying aces being upper class with a handlebar moustache, but he was just a pretty ordinary chap who discovered he had an affinity for flying planes.

“A lot of the rules of engagement for aerial combat that are followed now were made by him.

“His is a story of duty and suffering really. He went on home leave in March 1918 and was suffering from what we would now call post traumatic stress syndrome, he had difficulty sleeping and maintaining normal relationships, but he went back to France and was sadly shot down and killed in July 1918.

“I think history works best when it’s about the people involved. The war is a hugely significant part of our history but it can be divisive so we wanted to make reference to it and explore it without being too celebratory in our tone.

“The guys at Wellingborough Museum have got a great display on him and were as helpful as ever with providing documentary evidence and helping to design the beer clip, which looks like an old cigarette card.

“The beer is a traditional, classic hoppy English bitter brewed with 100 per cent English malted barley and a good whack of a relatively new hop called Flyer.

“It went very well when we launched it so we’ve decided to brew it again as a summer seasonal special. It should be available by the end of June as a cask beer at our normal outlets. Ten pence from every pint we sell will go to the museum so there is an element of putting something back as well.”

Rob and Sarah Hart set up Hart Family Brewers in a Georgian building at 21 Nene Court, The Embankment, Wellingborough, to make pure beers that have as little as possible impact on the environment.

The couple, who have 25 years’ combined experience of the drinks industry, started the business in May 2012 and by the following year their beers were being recognised by the Campaign for Real Ale’s Good Beer Guide.

They use lightweight bottles that are 20 per cent lighter than a standard bottle and energy-efficient green casks.

The beer is brewed using local water, English malted barley and wheat and whole hops, and without the use of cheap additives, enzymes or artificial colouring, flavours or preservatives.

Mr Hart said he thinks the reason locally brewed beer is proving so popular is that they can offer a quality that bigger breweries cannot.

He said they can also offer an unrivalled customer service. Mr Hart added: “If somebody rings up and asks for a barrel of beer, it will be with them that afternoon, or if not the morning after.”

The brewery’s beers are available at several bars in the town including the Locomotive and The Hind Hotel.

The brewery is open to the public on Saturdays from 9am to 5pm.

Telephone engineer who became war hero

Major Edward “Mick” Mannock was born on May 24, 1887, and worked as a telephone engineer in Wellingborough, before the outbreak of the First World War.

When hostilities began Mick was living and working in Constantinople in Turkey.

Here he was imprisoned before the Americans stepped in to secure his release.

As soon as he was repatriated he signed up to join the Army and became a sergeant major with the Royal Engineers, before becoming a pilot at a time when half of all pilots survived for just two weeks.

His flying career began on May 17, 1917, and lasted 13 months.

During this time he is credited with 73 combat victories, just seven behind leading pilot Manfred von Richthofen.

He was shot down on July 26, 1918, aged 31.