Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Watneys Pale Ale

On pale ale I’ve been engaged in research and contacted several brewers here and in the US on their definitions, the idea being to build up a composite picture of what seems to me the broad spectrum of the contemporary beer style with reference to its past (but not dwelling on it). I’m especially indebted to Simon Yates, head brewer at Marston’s in Wolverhampton and the chap who’s been producing essential information on the hop varieties used in Marston’s single hop series. He has supplied me lots of information, but what brought a wry smile to my face was his mention of Watneys Pale Ale. It’s not a beer I ever had (same goes for Red Barrel — were they the same?), but even in my non-beer drinking youth I was aware that there was something off about Watneys. Simon also mentioned the fact that the Scaffold (of Lily the Pink fame) sung on an advert for the brewery, which went out on the TV. I don’t know much about the Scaffold except that they seemed a bit of a joke band and featured Paul McCartney’s brother, but they didn’t seem to mind being associated with Watneys (perhaps this was just before the Red Barrel fiasco). However just for the record here are the words of the ad, which makes me think that Stella had travelled a long away when they turned to French movies for their inspiration…

We’ll drink a drink a drink/To make you think a think a think/Of Watney’s Pale,
The greatest a-a-ale,/So you can keep your medicinal compound
Now we’ve discovered Watney’s Pale.
W-e-e-e’ll drink a drink a drink/To make you think a think a think,/Of Watney’s Pale,
The greatest ale.


  1. Roger McGough, also of Scaffold, was/is a fine poet, and is now presenter of Radio 4's Poetry Please. The ad must have been about 1970, since Lily the Pink was a hit was a hit in 1968, and it uses the same tune, so yes, before Watney's Red. I used to have a beermat with Mike McGear/McCartney holding a glass of Pale ...

  2. Yes indeed Watneys Red Barrel preceded Watneys Red, but the Pale Ale was a completely different Brew. I was brewing at Watney Combe Reid in the early 70's

  3. I personally could not drink any of the Watney Beers, brewing with 50% raw barley does not bode well for a beer

  4. Watney Pale Ale was very popular in the mid 70's I remember we all used to walk around with the Pint Bottles of it in our local Disco it would be great to get it again, it was odd to see everyone with this but it did catch on in the Naafi.