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Page last updated at 14:30 GMT, Wednesday, 5 May 2010 15:30 UK
The legend of Robin Hood



Bob Douglas and a bottle of his ale
The Magpie Brewery is so called because it is close to Meadow Lane

A Nottingham micro brewery claims a special Sven Goran Eriksson inspired beer boosted their profits in the last financial year.

The Magpie Brewery, which is located near the home of Notts County, created a golden ale called Svendemonium in August 2009 when Sven arrived.

Bob Douglas, 57, from the brewery said: "We ended up making six batches [1080 gallons] and sold the lot very easily."

They managed to sell the last of the run before Sven left in February, 2010.

The Sven beer not only improved the Magpie Brewery's profits but it also raised their profile.

The brewery was created in 2006 after three friends, all keen home brewers, retired from their day jobs.

"We had lots of meetings, usually in pubs, and decided this would be a really good thing to do," said Mr Douglas.

Nottinghamshire's big breweries have disappeared in recent decades but smaller enterprises like the Magpie are carrying on the old tradition, including weathering the storm during the recession.

"The pubs that are suffering worst tend to be tied to expensive brands," said the brewer.

"Free houses that can pick and choose their products, who we mainly deal with, tend to be doing better."

I was trying to get extra bangs for my bucks so I put extra sugar in. It was fairly disgusting [but] you did get drunk quick.
Bob Douglas, Magpie Brewery

The theory is backed by figures from the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) who say their members recorded a sales growth of nearly 4% in 2009, despite the recession.

The Magpie Brewery has also been helped by a change in attitudes to real ale.

"The main problem is getting people to try it, which involves overcoming the 'it's an old man's drink, I won't like the taste', prejudices," said Mr Douglas.

"The use of increasing amounts of pale malts to make blonde beers which look like lager has definitely helped.

"Also, there have been a number of attempts to draw in ladies to try out real ale, some have been horrifically patronising, but ideas like one third of a pint glasses at beer festivals must have been helpful."

Bob Douglas first tried brewing when he was a student in Bristol.

"I was trying to get extra bangs for my bucks so I put extra sugar in. It was fairly disgusting [but] you did get drunk quick."

That is not his aim anymore as nowadays he would rather "have a nice drink".

Medieval brewing

Brewing is a process which has been part of British heritage for centuries and one that a certain ale quaffing Friar Tuck would have certainly enjoyed.

Medieval professions
Farrier attaches a flaming shoe to horse

But has it changed much since the middle ages?

"The basic processes are the same," said Mr Douglas. "People know a lot more about the science, now.

"I suspect it all used to be done by rule of thumb in medieval times."

Drinking laws used to be more relaxed back then, as well.

This was because ale was a safer bet than 'fresh' water because it had been boiled so much. Unlike today, children were actively encouraged to drink alcohol.

"It would have kept them healthy!" said the Magpie brewer.




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