The Fuller’s brewery tour provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse into the art of ale-making
Christine Hooper, the Hock Cellar and Brewery Tour administrator at Fuller’s, has worked at the Griffin Brewery for 43 years. Born and raised in Devonshire Road, she joined Fuller’s as the Beer Order Office Junior. Not surprisingly, Christine has a few interesting stories to tell.
‘Occasionally, in the “good old days”, we used to have to scrape people of the floor and patch them up after the post-tour tasting session,’ she recalls. ‘Some of our visitors struggled to get up and down the narrow winding staircase to the Hock Cellar. Mind you, we did serve pints; the world wasn’t quite as Health and Safety conscious back then.’ The brewery tours started in the mid-1970s and, to begin with, they were mostly for the trade. Today, they are hugely popular, with beer enthusiasts heading to Chiswick from all corners of the world.
‘Visitors always meet in The Mawson Arms,’ explains Christine. ‘Our lovely guides come from all walks of life: some are former employees, there’s an ex-chemistry teacher, a businessman and someone who teaches at West Middlesex Hospital. They share a passion for beer, and for Fuller’s in particular. They are so knowledgeable about the company’s history and they make the tours fun and informative; each tour takes 90 minutes and follows the brewing process from grain to glass, concluding with a 45-minute tasting session in the Hock Cellar.’ Lunch or dinner can be booked in The Mawson Arms after the tour and there’s ample opportunity to acquire liquid souvenirs or Fuller’s memorabilia in the Brewery Shop ‘We do get very busy, so it’s always better to book in advance,’ says Christine. ‘But, saying that, do try ringing in the morning to see if we have any spaces.
We’ll do our best to fit you in.’ You never know, you might even get to meet Christine herself. As well as administrative duties, she takes tours. ‘It’s been a brilliant 43 years here, and I still love being part of the Fuller’s family.’
The Griffin Brewery,
Chiswick Lane, W4 2QB