Skip to main content
23rd August 2012

A collaboration between the UK’s first female accredited Beer Sommelier and Dorset’s Art Brew

Venue: The Bricklayers Arms, Putney (see editors’ notes for address)
Date & time: 7.30 pm Tues 28th August
**Please RSVP** to:
if you wish to attend or send a reporter.
 The UK’s first female accredited beer sommelier, Sophie Atherton, is making use of her new qualification by teaming up with Dorset’s Art Brew to make an English farmhouse style ale, inspired by Belgian ‘Saisons’.
Working with brewer and co-owner Becky Whinnerah, the two women decided to make a version of the beer farmers from Belgian Wallonia made for their labourers.
But they wanted theirs to have an unusual twist, so based on a reference to crops grown in Dorset in Victorian times they infused the brew with dried marigold flowers.
“I knew that marigolds were edible as I’ve had the petals in salads a few times, then when I discovered they had a Dorset connection I was determined to get them into the beer,” said Sophie.
Becky added: “We had to do a little research first to see if it worked but our experiments suggested it would make an interesting addition to the flavour so we went ahead with it.”
The first official tasting of the beer will be at a launch event at The Bricklayer’s Arms in Putney, a pub renowned for its commitment to real ale and dubbed ‘London’s permanent beer festival’.
Two versions of Sophie’s Rustic Ale, which has an ABV of 4.7%, will be served at the event – one which has been fined (a process which clears and settles the yeast in beer) and one which hasn’t – which is more traditional for Saison styles.
Becky and Sophie are keen to find out which version of the beer drinkers prefer.
They will also be experimenting with beer and food matching at the launch, in a quest to find the best thing to eat with the ale. Axminster’s River Cottage canteen has offered a
bespoke focaccia bread designed to complement the marigold flavour of the beer and there are also plans to see how it tastes with Dorset cheeses.
Bricklayers Arms landlady Becky Newman said: “Running a pub I’m obviously going to be passionate about beer, but I’m really excited to be hosting not just a launch – but an event that has ambitions to take beer beyond the incorrect image it’s been saddled with.
“Beer is not a generic boring drink consumed only by old men; it can be almost anything you want it to be.”
  • As well as the launch at The Bricklayer’s Arms Sophie’s Rustic Ale will also be available at selected pubs in London and Reading. Details available by following @ArtBrew and @SophWrites on Twitter.
For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact Sophie Atherton on 07946 112 025.
Editors’ notes
  1. Sophie’s Rustic Ale (4.7% ABV) is a bright, burnished copper-coloured ale, with an aroma of honey and hay bales. It has a rich malty flavour with earthy, floral elements and an aftertaste of bread and honey. It is made with Dorset Maris Otter barley, Challenger and East Kent Goldings hops, the dried flower heads of Calendula Officinalis – also known as marigolds – and Saison yeast.
  1. ‘Saison’ is French for ‘season’ – the beer style originates in the French-speaking area of Belgium called Wallonia and, more specifically, the province of Hainaut.
  1. Art Brew (, based on a farm at North Chideock near Bridport in west Dorset, is a boutique brewery set up by John and Becky Whinnerah in 2008. Among the beers it already makes is the award-winning Monkey IPA (6.4% ABV), which won gold in the premium strong beer category at the SIBA South West regional beer competition this spring. The brewery is also well known locally for appearances at River Cottage Axminster Canteen’s meet the producer events, as its beer has been stocked there since early this year.
  1. Sophie Atherton was accredited as a Beer Sommelier in July this year through a training programme run by the Beer Academy – part of the Institute of Brewing & Distilling. She has been a journalist for more than a decade and a beer enthusiast for nearly a quarter of a century. She has written about beer for The Guardian, The Times, The Publican’s Morning Advertiser, CAMRA’s BEER magazine and various regional publications. She also blogs about beer at:
  1. The Bricklayers Arms (at 32 Waterman Street, Putney, SW15 1DD) has been run by Becky Newman since 2005. She is committed to serving well-kept, high quality real ale and has 12 hand pumps on the bar, offering an ever-changing range of amazing beers from small breweries around the UK. Her policy is to buy in the whole range of a particular brewer every week, one that is not normally showcased in London, so she can offer Londoners a real choice. More info at: