Old Bounder Beers
In 1986, to celebrate 900 years since the publication of the Doomsday Book, villages all over the country invited their inhabitants to make something to commemorate the event. Ballards decided to brew a beer with an original gravity of 1086 og, and call it “Elsted 900” as the brewery was, at the time, behind The Ballards Pub in the village of Elsted in West Sussex. We also decided to have it bottled, a first for Ballards. We arranged for the beer to be bottled by Gibbs Mew Brewery in Salisbury. It was considered a great success, though unusual, and not neccessarily to everyone’s taste!
During the next few years the brewery underwent some changes, with the founder Mike Brown retiring from active participation, and the brewery moving from Elsted to Nyewood in the next parish of Harting where it is to this day. In 1989 it was decided to produce another similar beer, again matching the original gravity to the year, and a competition was run to choose a name. The winner was “Old Bounder” with a cartoon character holding a pint on the label.
It was suggested by a local journalist, John Dodd, that the launch should resemble the Beaujolais Run, bringing the beer from the brewery in Nyewood 3 miles to the pub in Elsted. A relay race was run, with participants carrying a box of 12 275ml bottles! It’s surprising how heavy that feels! The race was won by a team of sheep-shearers from New Zealand who were working in the neighbourhood, and it was decided that the following year the beer would be walked to the pub, not run! To make the walk more interesting another pub would be visited on the way – the Three Horseshoes at Elsted.
This is the origin of the Ballards Beer Walk, which has taken place every year since 1989 on the first Sunday in December, drawing some 300 people, and rejoicing in Morris Dancers, and folk band with a Northumberland piper, Mummers, and last year a troop of Scottish bagpipers! (Please come again if you read this!) Money is always raised for a local charity, and these have included church roof restoration funds, and village hall building funds; support for local hospices, and for nurses to be trained to remove cataracts using laser equipment, and for a mobility scooter to be purchased for a local who could no longer walk to the pub. As more of the local villages have bcome involved, their pubs have been added to the routes of the Beer Walk, which now include The Elsted Inn, The Three Horseshoes at Elsted, the Keepers Arms at Trotton, the Ship at South Harting and the Wyndham Arms at Rogate(both now sadly closed) and the White Horse at Rogate when it was a freehouse.
On Sunday December 2nd 2012 the Ballards Beer Walk featured the 25th label design created by the man who has drawn them all – John Cousen, graphic designer, cartoonist and animator.
Continuing our tradition of annual Old Bounder barley wines, Meltdown is the current offering; dark amber, with toffee malty aromas, and strong toffee and liquorice flavour with a hint of marmite to blance the sweetness. Its 7.4% alcohol is lighter than previous versions, deferring to the government’s decision to attempt to curb “binge drinking” by imposing a higher Beer Duty rate on beers and ales over 7.5%.