Swindon brewery Arkell’s is brewing a brand new commemorative beer for the Royal British Legion as part of the commemorations to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War.
The beer will be called Old Contemptible, and will use an old recipe using British ingredients. The brewery is donating £10 per cask sold to the Poppy Appeal.
The beer is being officially launched next Wednesday, October 22 at Arkells Brewery, Kingsdown with members of The Royal British Legion.
Brewery chairman, James Arkell, said: “To mark this important centenary we have brewed a Mild ale, a style of beer that would have been drunk by my grandfather and the soldiers in 1914, and is one of England’s most traditional beers.”
Head brewer Alex Arkell, said: “I have used only English ingredients with a black colour and warm roasted and sweet tones coming from the chocolate malt with a light hop aroma to compliment it.
“At 4.0% this is considered strong for a mild, however having looked through our records and done some research we noticed that before WWI our mild was stronger. Then the government wanted people to drink less because of their work in the munitions factories so they forced breweries to reduce the alcohol. Hence mild became known as a weaker pint. But we thought we would brew the original version.”
The name, Old Contemptibles, was self-adopted by British troops belonging to the regular army in 1914.
It was supposedly derived from a comment made by the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II. The Kaiser, upon hearing that German forces were being held up in France while en route to the French capital, is said to have exclaimed his exasperation of "Sir John French's contemptible little army.”
Whatever the actual origin the British regulars were delighted to be referred to as 'The Old Contemptibles' and named their post-war veterans' association accordingly.
Alex added: “Both my great grandfather Noel Arkell and great Uncle Graham Arkell fought in WWI and survived, although Noel did return wounded having been shot in the shoulder.”