The first ever recipe Oakham Ales created, JHB had humble beginnings when brewed by John Wood in Rutland on 13th September 1993. John had been home brewing for more than 20 years when early retirement gave him the chance to brew commercially. He thought that the UK market would be receptive to US-hopped golden ales but was also influenced by a shortage of UK Goldings and Fuggles at the time. He used Mount Hood as the basis for JHB, teamed up with a yeast from the Home Brewery in Nottingham which gave him the flavour he was looking for. We still use the same strain today.
JHB is widely acknowledged to be a hugely significant beer, released at an influential point in the development of UK craft brewing. It went on to win Champion Beer of Britain in 2001, and was Oakham Ales’ best-selling beer for 21 years. The beer is named for Sir Jeffrey Hudson, an adventurer and courtier of Charles I who was born in Oakham in 1619.
Oakham Ales soon outgrew its original home in Rutland and moved to Peterborough in 1998. A 35 barrel plant was installed at Westgate, forming the centrepiece of the new Brewery Tap pub. A further upgrade to the Woodston area of Peterborough was necessary in 2006, thanks to the increased demand that came from winning Champion Beer of Britain. Short run brewing continued at the Westgate site on a 6 barrel kit, although technical issues have restricted brewing there over the last few years. As part of our 30th anniversary celebrations, we plan to change that – watch this space.
Here’s to the next 30 years of Oakham Ales. We’ve brewed some 93 million pints and around 275 different beers since John Wood brewed that first batch of JHB in 1993. We’re looking forward to raising a glass of 2023 JHB – just as delicious as it has always been – in celebration.
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