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Wrexham Lager

Wrexham fans - Born to drink?

Is it any surprise that “Wrexham lager, Wrexham lager….feed me till I want no more.  Want no more!” is still sung, to the tune of ‘Bread of Heaven’, with gusto by Wrexham fans at The Racecourse and on away trips – despite the closure of the last brewery in Wrexham in 2000?  Not really - the brewery even sponsored the side!Wrexham FC - sponsored by Wrexham Lager Brewery

Brewing has a long history in Wrexham dating back to medieval times.  The town had good underground water supplies and good water meant good beer.

Early records show that the London to Chester (via Shrewsbury) mail and stage coach journey would often be delayed by an often ridiculously long refreshment break in Wrexham.

By the 1860’s there were in fact 19 breweries in the town centre all in close proximity to the River Gwenfro. In Alfred Barnard's 1892 tour of British breweries, Soames's Brewery was singled out as making the best beer in Wrexham.

Wrexham however is more famously noted for being the home of the first successful lager brewery in Britain.

The Wrexham Lager Brewery was founded in 1882 by German immigrants Ivan Levinstein and Otto Isler who, along with colleagues from Bohemia and Saxony, missed their homeland lager and sought to introduce it as an enterprise to Britain.

They found the local water supply similar to that of Plzen (Pilsen) in the modern day Czech Republic and the lie of the land was ideal for the deep underground cellars needed to mature the lager.

The company initially struggled.  There was opposition from the established competition, a problem with the temperature of the underground cellars, and it was also difficult to convert ale drinkers to the new product.

The chance meeting of Levinstein and local industrialist, Robert Graesser on a train bound to Liverpool changed the Brewery’s fortunes and changed the future of modern-day beer production and consumption for future generations in Britain.

Graesser introduced mechanical refrigeration thus enabling a maintained temperature for the lager in the brewery’s cellars.

After a few hiccups Wrexham Lager was re-launched and available ‘on tap’ at selected accounts in the town.

One of the first accounts was The Cross Foxes in Abbott Street, which still stands today under a new guise.  The beer was delivered to ‘The Foxes’ and other outlets along with large blocks of ice to ensure a maintained temperature.

The Anchor and The Horseshoe Inn have long disappeared but, a few of the old ‘Lager Houses’ remain in Wrexham – some retaining their old name – and others changing their name in tide with the modern day drinking market.

The Commercial Inn (Scruffy Murphy’s) is arguably the oldest pub in Wrexham.  The old bricked-up cellar wall hides a tunnel leading to St Giles’ Church.

The Horse and Jockey, or ‘The Thatch’ as it is better known, is relatively a new pub which gained a legal license in 1842.  This picturesque listed building which has survived many fires, the latest being in September 2004, was originally three small artisan cottages dating back to the early 17th Century.  The pub sign depicts Champion Jockey Fred Archer whose suicide remains a mystery to the present day..

Graesser launched Wrexham Lager with different markets.  The beer travelled well and was a firm favourite on Cunard’s ships and with General Gordon’s troops in the Sudan.

Post war, the brewery survived many trials and tribulations.  One of four brews, a dark-lager, was a firm favourite of local miners who received nourishment as well as refreshment from the brew with a higher than normal yeast count.

The award winning Wrexham Lager Brewery flourished right throughout the Seventies and Eighties and such was its reverence it became the first brewery to produce Lowenbrâu outside of Munich.The Wrexham Lager Brewery 1999

Selected accounts were also ‘blessed’ with the option of selling Skol Special Strength on draught – which was affectionately regarded as ‘fighting water’ by the seasoned drinkers of Wrexham such was its strength (5.3% abv).

Economy and strategic planning by Allied Breweries determined the closure of the brewery in 2000 despite local opposition by the public and local MP’s.

‘Wrexham Lager’ brewed in Blackburn can now be found in selected outlets around the town but somehow it just doesn’t taste the same!

  • In 2006 Wrexham Supporters’ Trust launched two brands of their very own lager named after Racecourse legends.
    Tommy's (500ml 5.5%abv) & Benno's (500ml 4% abv)
    Both brews are bottle conditioned beers which contains a small amount of yeast sediment to allow them to continue fermenting in the bottle. It should be allowed to stand upright for an hour or two to allow the sediment to settle before drinking. Pour the beer carefully into the glass, leaving the last half inch in the bottom of the bottle.


BBC North East Wales - Wrexham Lager Brewery demolished
Wrexham Lager Brewery - History of brewing in the town
Onttss pre-match pub guide - spoilt for choice...so little time!





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