Bamburgh Castle raises a glass to 125th anniversary with creation of two new beers

One of Britain’s most iconic castles is toasting a special birthday in style with the launch of two beers dedicated to the remarkable Victorian philanthropist who helped save it from ruin.

By Ian Smith
Thursday, 25 July, 2019, 06:00
Bamburgh Castle owners William Watson-Armstrong and his father, Francis, with the special anniversary beers

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 Bamburgh Castle, transforming it from a run-down shell into the breath-taking and 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 “Given that Lord Armstrong was a man of the people who came from humble beginnings, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate his 125-year association with Bamburgh than by raising a glass or two of beer brewed in his name. I am sure he would think it a fitting tribute.”

Andrew Heeley, Will Douglas, William Watson-Armstrong and Karen Larkin from Bamburgh Castle with Alnwick Brewery's Jannick Genouw (far right) and the new Bamburgh Castle beers.

William worked closely with Alnwick Brewery’s head brewer Phil Bell to develop the two beverages with their striking labels.

The beer (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 its 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.

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Both beers are being sold in the Bamburgh Castle gift shop at £2.95 a bottle, and are also available in the Clock Tower Café and for weddings and private functions. It is hoped local pubs will also stock them.

Alnwick Brewery's Jannick Genouw with Bamburgh Castle owner William Watson-Armstrong.

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 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.”

Bamburgh Castle's new Lord Armstrong Amber and Bebbanburg Gold, launched to mark 125 years since Lord Armstrong bought and restored Bamburgh Castle.