With a long and distinguished history of military service within in the Arkell’s family, the Wiltshire brewery is paying tribute to British forces by brewing, for the second time, Old Contemptible. It was last brewed in 2014 to mark the centenary of World War I.
Arkell’s head brewer, Alex Arkell, said: “My Great Grandfather Noel Arkell, and Great Uncle Graham Arkell fought in WW1 and survived, although Noel returned wounded having been shot in the shoulder. Noel’s sons James and Peter fought in World War II.
“James served with the Gurkha’s in Burma and Java, where he was killed in action at the devastatingly early age of 26. His brother, my grandfather Peter Arkell, served in the RAF, flying Lysanders into France under cover of darkness to retrieve secret agents by moonlight.
“He later transferred to Burma where he completed many landings behind Japanese lines. After a serious crash behind enemy lines he was finally invalided out of the RAF.”
The family has continued its military associations to the present day, with Alex’s brother John serving in Afghanistan.
The Old Contemptibles was the nickname given to the British expeditionary force in 1914, and later the troops in France and Flanders by Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany, who reportedly issued an order to “Exterminate…the treacherous English and walk over… the contemptible little army”.
Alex explains the creation of his recipe. “The beer uses only English ingredients with a black colour, warm roasted and sweet tones coming from the chocolate malt, with a light hop aroma to compliment it.
“At four percent this is considered strong for a mild, but having looked through our records and done some research we noticed that before WW1 our mild was stronger.
“But the Government wanted people to drink less so they could work in the munitions factories and they forced breweries to reduce the alcohol, hence mild is now known to be a weaker pint.
“However, our British forces are made of stronger stuff so we thought we would brew the original version.”