I leave my flat, drive up the High Street and follow it ahead, turn left then I drive in a straight line until I need to turn right down a suspension-testing lane when I arrive at Westerham Brewery. It may take 30 minutes down country lanes, but my journey is straightforward.
Set up on a farm, my drinking soundtrack is yawning cows as dusk darkens, lit by a moon so big and bright it looks like a giant headlight in the sky. I’m here to celebrate the 1,000th gyle at the brewery, enticed by the carrot-on-a-stick of IPA and sausages. I find the beer I want and help myself. A deep gold and tasting like it’s tank-fresh, the 1,000th beer is 4.8%, hopped with Target and Progress and properly English in its flavour and bitterness which is fruity, dry, peppery, sinus-prodding and treats your uvula like a punching bag. Outside I drink the beer while watching the sapphire sky with great, billowing clouds and that floodlight moon. I get a sausage made with Westerham’s British Bulldog and cover it in ketchup and mustard before realising that the giant squeezy pot they have isn’t hotdog mustard but Colman’s yellow rocketfuel. Robert Wicks, the main guy at Westerham, says it’s the best sausage you’ll ever taste, but then he seems like he’s got the salesman’s gab and I can’t tell because the inside of my nose has been seared away, possibly irreparably. I finish the beer and head back for more before finding myself on a tour of the charming little brewery, led by Robert, who talks about the ingredients and process. It’s a lovely little brewery in a great location and it’s got a good feeling about it, something hard to put words to. Tour over I pour myself a Grasshopper which, for a 3.8% brown bitter, really walloped of Target and Kent Goldings and had a lasting, lingering bitterness and unbeatable freshness (the freshness thing is why drinking beer in breweries is the best place to try something).
Westerham is one of the closest breweries to me and their beers are almost always on in my local Wetherspoons. They get many of their hops from the area, including Scotney Castle, and they certainly aren’t afraid to pack a few of them into their beers. The 1,000th gyle is a faceful of Target and Progress which seems like a fitting combination to me.