Young’s Brewery is one of the most well-established and respected brands in the beer drinking industry.

The name of Young’s Brewery is one of the most well-established and respected brands in the beer drinking industry. Although the brewery is no longer on its traditional site in Wandsworth, the quality of its real ales is beyond dispute. The Ram Brewery in Wandsworth could trace its brewing history back to 1533, making Young’s probably one of the oldest surviving brands, but it was not until the early part of the 19th century that the company was owned by the Young family.

First Beer to Go by Rail
In 1803, the Surrey iron railway opened, with horse drawn ‘waggons’ travelling from close to the Ram Brewery in Wandsworth to Croydon. Two of the shareholders were George Tritton, owner since 1763 of the Ram Brewery, and Southwark manufacturer Florance Young. The Ram Brewery became the first brewery to distribute its beer by rail!

In 1831, Florance Young’s son, Charles Allen Young and his partner Anthony Fothergill bought the brewery from the Trittons. This purchase not only included the brewery but also 80 public houses, many of which are still owned by Young’s to this day! Just a year later, the brewery was almost lost due to a major fire but it was rebuilt, including a new beam engine and this is now believed to be the oldest working beam engine of its kind in the world still in working condition and in its original location.

From Porter to Real Ale
When the Young family bought the Ram Brewery, it was producing Porter – the name was first used in the 18th century from its popularity with the street and river porters of London. It was generally brewed with dark malts. It is not to be confused with stout, which is believed to have come about because a strong porter may be called ‘Extra Porter’ or ‘Double Porter’ or ‘Stout Porter’. The term ‘Stout Porter’ would later be shortened to just ‘Stout’. By 1864, production had turned to lighter and more sparkling beers and the first pints of what was to become Young’s Bitter were being brewed.
Charles Allen Young died in 1855 and his son Charles Florance Young entered the partnership. Anthony Fothergill Bainbridge was succeeded by his nephew, Herbert in 1873 and then in 1883 came the dissolution of the Young and Bainbridge partnership. Charles carried on the business alone as Young & Co. However, when he died in 1890, his wish was the formation of a private limited company: Young & Co.’s Brewery Limited.

Young & Co Hit the Stock Exchange
After the Second World War, the company needed to modernise and invest in its growing number of pubs. It became a publicly quoted company on the London Stock Exchange in 1955, and in 1962, John Allen Young, great-great-grandson of the firm’s founder, became chairman. He quickly became instrumental in promoting traditional draught beer in all Young’s pubs, sticking to his guns even though almost all other brewers were abandoning what became known as ‘real ale’.

In 1962, the company built on its bottling capabilities by buying independent bottlers Foster-Probyn, followed in 1973 by the purchase of Cockburn and Campbell Ltd., wine merchants of Edinburgh and London since 1796.

The Queen Joins in the
150th Anniversary Celebrations

Then, 30 years ago, local residents joined brewery workers in 1981 when Queen Elizabeth II visited the brewery to celebrate 150 years of Young’s Brewery.

Never a company to stand still, Young’s invested £5 million in a new brewhouse in 1984, both to increase capacity and to replace some equipment that was over 100 years old. In 1990, the company expanded into the hotel trade with their first purpose-built hotel at The Bridge in Greenford and, a year later, the pub business was boosted in 1991 when independent pub operator, H H Finch Limited, was acquired.

Official Recognition Continues
As a mark of respect in which the Brewery was held, in 1998, Young’s shire horses took on the duty of pulling the Lord Mayor’s coach at the annual London event, a tradition that continues to this day.

The year 2000 saw Young’s beers winning six medals and two championship trophies at the Brewing Industry International Awards – the most prizes ever won by any brewery. The year was rounded off with the purchase of 17 pubs in the West Country.

The link with the Royal Family continued in 2004, when Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex visited The Thatched House, a Young’s pub in Hammersmith. The Prince followed in the footsteps of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and his brother, the Prince of Wales, by pulling a pint of Young’s Bitter.

Awards continued to be won when, in 2005, Young’s won medals for their beers, including golds for Ram Rod and Oatmeal Stout in the Brewing Industry International Awards in Munich and top prize for autumn and winter beers in the Tesco Brewing Awards.

Dawn of a New Era
2004 marked the start of a new era for Young & Co. Having reviewed the brewing operations at Wandsworth, the company sadly decided to sell the Ram Brewery, home to the company for 470 years, and entered into a joint arrangement with another old established brewer, Charles Wells of Bedford, creating a new force in the industry, Wells & Young’s Brewing Company Limited.

There had been a long-standing personal relationship between the Young’s and the Wells families. The decision to combine their joint heritage of brewing expertise, traditional techniques, master brewers’ craft and the highest quality ingredients with the many benefits of a large, modern brewery would safeguard the future of Young’s ales for generations to come.

Young’s – The Publican
By 2007, Young’s was now solely responsible for the pubs, operating as a separate independent retail company. This was completed in August 2011, when the remaining 40% minority stake in Wells & Young’s Brewing Company was sold. Much of the £69 million raised by Young’s through the sale of the brewery has been earmarked for expansion, as well as for a major refurbishment programme across the company’s pub estate.

The 21st Century Company
Today, Young & Co. is an operator and owner of around 260 pubs, of which 130 are managed; 30 are in the Geronimo brand and 94 tenants. The Geronimo group of inns was started in 1995 and purchased by Young’s in December 2010. They claim to be neither a brand nor a chain but simply a seal of approval for delicious fresh food, carefully selected drinks in pubs that reflect their neighbourhood through the design, the offer and the people.

David Turner, Property & Tenancy Director, explains, “Predominantly we operate in south-west London, Surrey, Sussex and Kent although we have some pubs in the West Country as a result of purchasing Smiles in the early 1990’s. We aim to offer a range of distinctive beers with five draught real ales: Young’s Bitter, Young’s Special, Young’s London Gold, Courage Directors and Wells Bombardier. In addition we have five bottled beers: Ram Rod, Special London Ale, Light Ale, Young’s Bitter and Waggle Dance. All of these are brewed for us by Wells & Young’s Brewery in Bedford.

“Today our prime market for is for beer and wine, coupled with good food, locally sourced and showcasing the best of British. We aim to serve our customers in traditional public houses. Many of these are in listed buildings with fantastic beer gardens and we have done a great deal to make sure that they fit into their local environment. We take pride in our food and include the best of fresh British ingredients.

“We offer British beef and our fresh pork is free range. The meat contained in our beef pies is prime Scotch beef. We also offer English chicken, which bears the Red Tractor sign, ensuring high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection. Our eggs are free range and whenever possible we use British fruit and vegetables. All of our fresh fish is supplied by M & J Seafoods, which is committed to only supplying well-managed and sustainably caught fish and seafood.”

David adds, “In addition to the public houses, Young’s operate eight hotels in and around London, providing over 350 boutique rooms, including Kew, Wimbledon and Twickenham. These can accommodate all manner of functions, from business meetings to corporate events, launches, conferences and larger celebrations for up to 100 people. Many have wedding licenses, so if you’re looking for a ceremony that’s got plenty of personality and local charm, why not hold your nuptials in a familiar location. We also have numerous outdoor spaces, with private gardens, terraces and lawns 13 of which have stunning river views of the Thames to choose from, perfect for summer weddings.”

As it celebrates its 180th birthday, it is clear that the company has changed a great deal over its lifetime and, more importantly, is continuing to change in order to maintain its strong position and great reputation – Young by name and Young by nature!

For further information please telephone 0208 875 7000 or visit