A lifelong friendship wins John Young Memorial Award
Photo: Geoff Strawbridge, Peter Slezak, Martin Hayes, Torquil Sligo Young
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Friendship can create some interesting outcomes and the evolution of the Craft Beer Company is a good example of how small starts can lead to something bigger!
Martin Hayes met Peter Slezak when they were both 12 and they have been friends ever since. In 2009 Martin took over the Pimlico Tram, a closed, rough Greene King pub and transformed it into the free of tie Cask Pub & Kitchen. Peter joined him shortly after to build the Craft Beer Co, which now is a little chain of nine pubs where other operators had given up.
To recognise their work in rescuing pubs for the community, the pair have been given the 2019 John Young Memorial Award, which is given annually in celebration of an individual or organisation that has done the most for real ale and/or pubs within the Greater London area.
The quote from Martin gives a good example of why they run good pubs and the reason for their name: ‘I’m passionate about pubs and hospitality. I’ve always thought that you should care about what you do. Craft beer is a confused term but for me, craft simply means good beer, whether cans, cask, bottles or keg ’.
The Award was made on 30 October in the Cask Pub & Kitchen by Torquil Sligo-Young, nephew of John Young, and CAMRA’s Greater London Regional Director, Geoff Strawbridge.
- CAMRA is the Campaign for Real Ale and is a volunteer membership organisation with over 180 volunteer branches across the UK and over 190,000 members.
- CAMRA nationally was formed in 1971. It exists to promote good beer, protect pubs and defend consumer rights.
- Besides the Cask Pub & Kitchen, eight of the nine pubs comprising the Craft Beer Co. chain are also in London: at Brixton, Clerkenwell, Covent Garden, Hammersmith, Islington, Limehouse, Old Street and St Mary Axe. The other one is in Brighton.
- John Young CBE died in September 2006, aged 85. He is revered as the father of the “real ale revolution”, a unique man who believed in good traditional beer drunk in good traditional pubs. He was chairman of Young’s of Wandsworth for 44 years and steered the family brewery on a different course from the rest of the industry in the 1970s when most breweries were turning away from real ale.
- John Young raised his standard above the Ram Brewery, on the oldest brewing site in Britain, and declared he would remain faithful to beer that matured naturally in its cask.
- He was born in Winchester and was the great-great-grandson of Charles Allen Young, one of two businessmen who took over the 16th-century Ram Brewery in 1831. John’s mother was Joan Barrow Simonds, a member of the family that owned Simonds Brewery in Reading.
- Although Young’s beers are no longer brewed in London, there are still 200 Youngs managed houses in London and the south that bear the brand – 70 of which are tenanted.