Rebellion History

History of Brewing in Marlow & The Rebellion Beer Company

Like every town and village throughout England, Marlow's brewing tradition dates back centuries. Beer had been the drink of the day for most people throughout the ages, as beer was safer to drink than water, so the local brewer was a much respected and important person in any community. Beer was traditionally brewed on a very small scale, and sold at the brewer's own 'public house', until the advent of the new steam powered technology during the industrial revolution allowed for the production of beer on a larger commercial scale. Thomas Wethered started brewing in premises on the west side of Marlow high street in the middle of the 18th Century, and was soon producing about 30,000 pints per week, and selling his beer to local inns and pubs. And so the town brewery remained the centre of the working and social life of the local community right up until the middle of 20th Century when the emergence of large national brewing companies threatened the existence of local traditional brewers, who found it increasingly difficult to compete. From over 2000 independent breweries in 1900 the number dropped to under 200 by 1970, which inspired a small band of real ale enthusiasts to start CAMRA, the pressure group whose aim was to support and champion the dwindling number of small traditional town brewers. There is a well known saying that real ale doesn't travel, and it simply wasn't possible for the national brewers to produce quality real ale in huge centralised breweries and transport the beer across hundreds of miles to the pubs. Real ale is a living product where the yeast continues to ferment and produce intense flavours in the cask, and as such it is un-filtered, un-pasteurised and doesn't have preservatives pumped into it. From a point of almost total extinction in the 1970s a consumer lead backlash against the poor quality and non-descript mass produced national beers, inspired a revival in small scale brewing, which since 1980 has seen the number of microbreweries in Britain grow from a handful to more than 400.

The story of the Rebellion Brewery starts in 1987 with the closure of the Thomas Wethered Brewery. Two friends, Tim Coombes and Mark Gloyens, had gone through school together at Sir William Borlase, at a time when the old Wethered brewery was in full production and the smell & noise from the brewery clearly marked Marlow out to locals and visitors alike as a brewing town. Having discussed the idea to set up in business together earlier in their careers, and watching the old brewery close, the idea started to take shape of reviving Marlow tradition in 1991. After a couple of years of planning, research and failed attempts to secure small premises on the old brewery site, which was owned by Whitbreads, the Rebellion Brewery was established on the Rose Industrial Estate in Marlow Bottom in April 1993.

From an initial investment of £60,000 of their own money, the two partners have reinvested retained profits over the intervening years to expand the brewery to its current capacity of 70,000 pints/week. In 1999 the brewery moved to its current premises on Bencombe Farm, occupying the old grainstore and other redundant farm buildings. Most of the brewing equipment installed has been purchased 2nd hand from other breweries that have been closed down over the years. The Rebellion Brewery is a working brewery museum, containing as it does tanks & equipment from old, closed breweries such as Morlands of Abingdon, Morrells of Oxford, Flowers of Cheltenham and Brakspears of Henley. Most of the beer produced in the brewery is traditional cask conditioned ale for sale to local pubs and in the brewery shop, with the remainder going into bottle for sale through the brewery shop, local restaurants, hotels and off-licences. As support from local people has increased the Rebellion Brewery has reduced the area it actively sells to and now considers export as anything that goes out of Bucks, Berks & Oxon. The strategy of concentrating on local sales is better for the quality of the beer; better for the environment and ultimately better for the long-term profitability and sustainability of the brewery. The number of people employed by the brewery has grown over the years from the initial 3 to the current level of 50 full & part-time staff.

The Rebellion Brewery has always prided itself in its involvement with the wider community, through support for local charities, schools and other community organisations. Every 2 years since 1999, Rebellion has thrown the doors of the brewery open over a weekend in the summer, and welcomed as many as 7000 visitors to enjoy a free beer festival, including tours of the brewery and live music provided by local bands. Whilst entry to the festival is free, visitors are invited to donate money to the local hospital charity, 'Scannappeal', and since 1999 over £100,000 has been raised to buy vital scanning & diagnostic equipment for Wycombe Hospital.

The brewery also aims to minimise the impact it has on the environment. All the surplus bi-products of the brewing process are re-used locally, with the fresh & highly nutritious spent brewers grains going off to 2 local farms to the feed the cattle.

In today's world of brewing, it appears you have to be either a small local brewery to produce the quality and variety of beers appealing to the discerning drinker or be a multi-national brewing giant producing cheap, mass marketed beers. Our strategy now is to focus our attention on continually developing the range of beers we produce, as well as working tirelessly to ensure our loyal customers can always enjoy our beers in the best possible condition, wherever they try them. Thankfully for us, the industry has gone full circle and the demand for locally produced, distinctive and high quality beers is growing and the Rebellion Brewery in Marlow is here to stay.

VIEW ALL AVAILABLE ALES

CASK ALES AVAILABLE TODAY IN THE SHOP

 

IPA

Well Balanced, Pale Ale
A copper coloured, easy drinking beer. Well balanced malt and hop flavours continue to a long, refreshing and clean finish.

 
Sizes Currently Available
  • 1 Litre Bottles
  • 3 Litre Bottles
  • 5 Litre Kegs
  • 18 Pint Polycasks
  • 22 Pint Mini Barrel
  • 36 Pint Polypins
  • 72 Pint Firkins
 
 

Slam Dunk

Amber and Traditional
Amber in colour with a traditional British ale character. Classic British hops give this beer it’s spicy and earthy flavour.

 
Sizes Currently Available
  • 1 Litre Bottles
  • 3 Litre Bottles
  • 5 Litre Kegs
  • 18 Pint Polycasks
  • 22 Pint Mini Barrel
  • 36 Pint Polypins
  • 72 Pint Firkins
 
 

Smuggler

Well Hopped Amber Ale
An amber coloured, special bitter with a distinctive fruity hop character, and lasting bittersweet finish.

 
Sizes Currently Available
  • 1 Litre Bottles
  • 3 Litre Bottles
  • 5 Litre Kegs
  • 18 Pint Polycasks
  • 22 Pint Mini Barrel
  • 36 Pint Polypins
  • 72 Pint Firkins
 
 

Roasted Nuts

Reddish Brown & Fruity
A deep ruby, complex and flavoursome Winter warmer, packed with intense and distinctive malt & hop character.

 
Sizes Currently Available
  • 1 Litre Bottles
  • 3 Litre Bottles
  • 5 Litre Kegs
  • 18 Pint Polycasks
  • 22 Pint Mini Barrel
  • 36 Pint Polypins
  • 72 Pint Firkins
 
 

Blonde

A light golden Summer beer, with a citrussy hop character. Serve it slightly cooler than usual for an ale, to enhance its refreshing quality.

 
Sizes Currently Available
  • Single 500ml Bottle
  • Case of 12 Bottles
  • Mixed case 2 Beers
  • 2 Bottle + Glass Pack
  • 3 Bottle Presentation Pack
  • 4 Bottle + Glass Pack
 
 

Red

A warming, Autumnal red ale, rich & malty, with a balancing bittersweet hop character.

 
Sizes Currently Available
  • Single 500ml Bottle
  • Case of 12 Bottles
  • Mixed case 2 Beers
  • 2 Bottle + Glass Pack
  • 3 Bottle Presentation Pack
  • 4 Bottle + Glass Pack
 
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