Firstly, though, Mark gave us an amusing and informative talk on the history of ale from its invention by the Sumerians some six thousand years ago, through the middle ages, the excesses of “gin lane”, industrialisation and to the present day. We also learned about Everards themselves who were founded in Leicester in 1849, moved to Burton, then returned to Leicester and a brand new brewery fifteen years ago. As well as their own beers, they brew Stones Bitter for Coors, Wychwood Hobgoblin for Marstons and ales for the Purity brewery (they help out quite a few micro-brewers who find a need for extra capacity). A new beer especially for Marks & Spencer is imminent.

Mark then took us through the brewing process itself and though this was familiar territory for some of us, I still learnt interesting facts – did you know that each pint of beer takes 34 billion yeast cells? Or that Everards export their surplus yeast to Japan where it helps make Suntory “Scotch” Whisky?

Anyway, onto the beer tasting with Beacon, Tiger, Sunchaser and Original wanting to be drunk. All Everards beers are very well made and definitely underrated in CAMRA circles (though Beacon was Champion Bitter of Britain a few years back). The blonde, slightly citrusy Sunchaser isn’t particularly to my taste – it’s clearly aimed at the lager drinker as a first step in transition to the real thing, and therefore decidedly light-tasting. The powerful Original (5.2%) has always been a favourite of mine, full of rich malty flavours then a long satisfying finish. The well-balanced Tiger is a classic best bitter – not one for the hophead but extremely well crafted. Beacon is a refreshing light bitter, very much in the Burton style, with good hop character.

Our grateful thanks to Mark and also to licensee John Dearn and manager Joey McGillvary for putting the evening on for us.