County Stat Attack Week 12 - Surrey

Leafy Surrey takes us back to Home Counties territory, to the South West of the capital, bordering many counties, one of which, East Sussex, we have already visited. It is much reduced in size, having lost territory to Greater London and West Sussex. The county used to stretch to Brixton and Southwark in London, the County Cricket Ground remains at the Oval in Kennington, in the South the area where Gatwick Airport is now was transferred to West Sussex.

Historically the area was tribal until the Roman invasion, who settled into the now Southwark area, modern Surrey was somewhat backwater territory, although Stane Street crossed and small settlements were created. After the Roman withdrawal the area became Saxon, under the Kentish Kingdom, with an important religious structure, Chertsey Abbey.
Guildford Castle was established after the Norman Invasion, followed by Farnham Castle for the Bishop of Winchester. Possibly the most important date in Surrey history was 1215 when the Magna Carta was signed at Runnymede, near Egham, by King John. King Henry III made Guildford Castle his main residence.
The soils in modern day Surrey are quite poor making agriculture difficult, any wealth coming from cloth manufacture and timber. Both industries closed down gradually making the area uneconomic which is ironic compared to how the county is seen these days.

The largest towns in Surrey are Woking, Guildford, Waltham upon Thames, Ewell and Esher. However the County Council actually sits outside the County at Kingston upon Thames.

This is the first county on our tour that sits on the River Thames, which is the obvious main feature in the county, maybe surprisingly the reduced Surrey has the greatest proportion of woodland of any county in England, hence the leafy moniker presumably. The uplands are the North Downs and Surrey Hills. The Low Weald is a small plain leading to the High Weald. This is Green Belt area with plentiful commons. Box Hill has the oldest untouched area of natural woodland in the UK.

On Ratebeer we have 27 currently active breweries and 9 closed for a total of 36, 6 of which are Commissioner / Contract Brewers.

The oldest Brewery we have for the county is Hogs Back Brewery of Tongham, Established in 1992. The most significant historic brewer I could find was Healy’s of Guildford, founded roughly 1865. There is quite a convoluted history, which seems to have been lost over the years but amalgamations with other breweries lead to Friary Meux Ltd in 1956. Brewing ceased in Guildford in 1969 and the Brewery eventually demolished.

The Brewery we have with the largest range in Surrey is Ascot Brewing of Camberley (Est 2007) with 151 beers listed on Ratebeer.

Yes, we are now on the 2020 awards, the Brewery that was made Best Brewery in Surrey was Big Smoke, who were a London based brewer but moved to Esher in 2019. Their Big Smoke Dark Wave was also made Beer of the Year for the county.

The Top 10 Beers for Surrey are –

  1. Ascot Anastasia’s Imperial Stout
  2. Surrey Hills Greensand IPA
  3. Ascot Anastasia’s Stout
  4. Big Smoke Dark Wave
  5. Big Smoke Electric Eye
  6. Big Smoke Underworld
  7. Tillingbourne Hop Troll IPA
  8. Hogs Back OTT (Old Tongham Tasty)
  9. Thurston’s Milk Stout
  10. Surrey Hills Gilt Complex

The Top 5 Pubs / Bars in Surrey are –

  1. Hogs Back Brewery & Beer Shop, Tongham
  2. Egham United Services Club (EUSC), Egham
  3. Garland, Redhill
  4. Half Moon, Windlesham
  5. Plough Inn, Coldharbour

There is a highly rated Beer Store

  1. Cobbett’s Real Ales, Dorking

The Top 5 Raters of beers from Surrey are –

  1. @BeardedAvenger
  2. @fonefan
  3. @Theydon_Bois
  4. @Berkshirejohn
  5. @Grumbo

You only require 24 beers from Surrey to get into the Top 50

The person who lives in Surrey with the most ratings is
@BeardedAvenger and as we all know is currently active.

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One of the more recent counties to push over the 100 mark for me and I remember that only happened because Big Smoke moved, I am currently on 106 beers now in 8th place for Surrey. I think this county is going to be a struggle for most people on here. My Surrey ratings are pushed up by several visits to the excellent Egham Beer Festival in the United Services Club and staying at Chertsey C&CC Site on the River Thames.
I was beginning to think I hadn’t done any long distance walking in Surrey until it dawned on me that I had done the Thames path through the county, I can’t claim any hills though, I’m going to have to leave that to @wheresthepath and the highest point bagging that I’m following with interest. Sports wise it looks like my second county on the trot that I can’t claim anything as I don’t have any interest in Golf or the Gee Gee’s. I have been to The Oval, even played there a couple of times but that doesn’t count.

My 106 ratings puts Surrey 4th bottom in my Counties list, no surprises there, with an average of 3.16, as a frugal rater this is sort of mid table for me. I have tried beers from 21 different breweries, putting me 4th on that particular list, 4 of which are now closed. I cannot imagine when I will next visit the county, presumably if Egham Beer Festival ever gets going again.

The Breweries with the most ratings for me are –

  1. Ascot Brewing – 27
  2. Hogs Back Brewery – 24
  3. Big Smoke Brew Co – 9
  4. Pilgrim Brewery – 7
  5. Thurston’s Brewery – 5

I only have 1 beer with a rating of 4 or over, my best are –

  1. Little Beer Little Norseman – 4.0
  2. Hogs Back Charley Brewster’s Bundle – 3.9
  3. Hogs Back A over T (Aromas over Tongham) – 3.9
  4. Ascot On the Nose – 3.9
  5. Tilingbourne The Source – 3.9

The highest rated beer on Ratebeer is Ascot Anastasia’s Imperial Stout averaging 3.72 which I gave 3.4, sorry Ascot Brewing! I have tried 8 of the top 10 in the County.

The Breweries (5 or more beers) with the highest average rating from me are –

  1. Thurston’s Brewery – 3.32
  2. Ascot Brewing – 3.261
    The others average under 3 unfortunately.

I have only reviewed 4 places in Surrey making it one of my lowliest Counties for places. The only place worth highlighting is the Egham Servicemen’s Club really at 74.

I do remember walking from the C&CC Site in Chertsey to the Beer Festival in Egham once in November. On my return the Thames had broke its bank and flooded the site. Fortunately I had insisted on parking at the highest point in the site, I had a motorhome at the time, and I was on one of the few pitches not totally under-water. Obviously I was in no fit state to drive, so had to ignore the Wardens threats and sleep it out. Next morning I left, only to get a bollocking from the Wardens for not following the one way signs! That would have meant risking flooding the engine, sometimes those people really get to me, got home with no other problems but missed my second day at the Festival.

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A grand total of 4 rates from 3 brewers, at an average of 2.7. I’ll get me coat…

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15 rates for me in Surrey with a few in the cellar. Not a high priority, but should get in the top 50 this year.

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I think this could be a BeardedAvenger speciality week. I know I had to work hard to get my tally to over 100.

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I was top rater when I lived there (till Jan '15) … it’s a shit tier beer county to be honest

Not many breweries … not many interesting breweries … only one that puts out good numbers that I enjoyed … Ascot (see also hogs back #dull), and many of these Ascot offerings were the various iterations of Blue Devil for EBF … which was a solid festival and I will head back there one day having done maybe 8 or 9

Took me a year or so to get past Fonefan in Surrey due general lack of beer

Think it then took Bearded avenger a few years to get past me after I left the county

Gonna say I have only rated a dozen or so Surrey beers since 2015

Just a county that has never been at the races beer wise if i’m honest … shame … plenty of money there but more a lager london boy culture all told

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Surrey, or as I used to call it ‘Slurry’ (still do sometimes). It’s a county I have only visited fleetingly.

I was on Secondment from the MOD to an American Technology Company called Raytheon for a while and they operated out of Farnborough (in Hampshire).The major contract they were after didn’t materialise, but they spent thousands trying to get it. They put me up in that darts complex in Frimley Green; Lakeside, which is in Surrey. What an overpriced shit hole that was. On a more pleasant note I’ve strolled along the Thames to Eel Pie Island and beyond, lovely sunny day too.

Only 30 beers rated from the county making it equal bottom four, with only Durham, Rutland and the Isle of Wight below it.

Average score of those 30 is 3.2; just Big Smoke Dark Wave making it to a 4.

Eight Breweries, one of which has closed.

11 from Hogs Back and 5 from Ascot, Big Smoke and the closed Little Beer Company.

No place reviews and no plans to make a special visit to do so in the near future. I am sure there are some great places to eat and drink in Slurry, but my ‘Stat Geekiness’ is elsewhere at the moment.

<*))))))><

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Elton John once said that Surrey seems to be the hardest word. I don’t know about that but Surrey seems to be one of the hardest counties. So, definitely without any kind of fringe on top, here are my Surrey stats.

With only 17 beverages, it’s my joint second-lowest, although I’d only need 7 to get a place in the top 50. So I’m probably closer to this than I am, say, the top 50 for London.

My most imbibed breweries are Hogs Back (7), Ascot (3), Dorking and Big Smoke (2 each). The best beers are still pretty good:

Ascot Yankee (previously Rhino Rye) 3.7
Ascot Gold Cup 3.6
Bigg Smoke Sunshower - Extra Pale Rye 3.5
Little Beer Little Tenderness 3.5
Big Smoke Underworld 3.5

Surprisingly I’ve rated 4 places in the county although 2 are Wetherspoons near Gatwick. Top of the lot by a long way is Cobbett’s Real Ales in Dorking with 84.

I think that’s it from me. At some point I need to do more exploring in the county or at least bit up a Big Smoke pub or two for some ticks.

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Think I too ought to be getting my coat, it’s the grand total of 1 rate from Surrey for me, that being a rather average (non) Christmas beer from Hogs Back. Looking at the brewery list, can’t even say that I’ve seen many of them around over the years, and the county is not on my list of top places to go really, not even when I lived in London (possibly because it’s not completely clear what is and isn’t Surrey down that neck of the woods). Childhood visits to Hampton Court, and its maze, ring a bell, as does a trip to Thorpe Park one year when we boated down the Thames from Oxon. From a beer point of view, drinking lager after games of cricket back in my University days are probably it - pretty sure we ventured to Surrey a couple of times. Have considered a trip to Egham on a couple of occasions, but common (more likely monetary) sense got the better of me. One day maybe

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Surrey is another county I’ve found whose beers don’t get out much. But fortunately work has taken me to Reigate and Guildford a number of times over the last 3-4 years including a few overnight stays (Guildford, Dorking, Redhill) which explains my count of 126 and 5th place from 19 different breweries, plus 21 places rated.

Godstone, Hogs Back and Pilgrim are my most rated breweries with 13, 13 and 12 respectively. In the absence of being able to easily rank breweries by region on highest average rating and right now not having the patience to go through the whole list to spot them (I don’t imagine any being near the top), I’ll guess Brightwater as being my highest scoring brewery. Their place, Platform 3 in Claygate, proved an excellent stopping off point on the train back in to London one evening.

Only Cobbett’s has scored higher for me (for open places anyway). Sadly 2 of my highest scoring places - Four Hops in Reigate and Inn at Home (Guildford) closed a while back now. The latter was excellent for getting Surrey and surrounding area beers - even if their staff could be a bit hit and miss - and it’s sad a place the size of Guildford couldn’t keep it afloat. Hop Stop was a new place which opened in Reigate late 2019 and I enjoyed my first visit expecting it to be my new go to place in the town following Four Hops closure - though of course 2020’s events have precluded that. The Pilgrim Brewery Tap in Reigate was also a noteworthy place to have visited - in a town not awash with good ale pubs.

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Only 17 from Surrey for me, putting it as my 4th lowest English County.

In terms of cider, there are 4 Active cideries listed, the most prolific is Garden Cider with 10 entries. @BeardedAvenger also tops the lists for Ciders rated with 12 and Cideries rated with 4.

A notable Surrey rate is Babysham Sparkling Perry, now owned by Accolade Wines (with headquarters in South Australia) which counts as Surrey due to them having UK office in Weybridge. Babycham - Wikipedia

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Surrey is another county for which my dismal score would be very, very different if I had been rating at a different time of life. I went to Royal Holloway College and I believe I was among the first cohort of men admitted to what had previously been an all-women’s college. And my cubic capacity for beer was at its peak. Sadly this was also in the early 70s’ nadir of British beer production so it was at best a pint of Directors in the Barley Mow, Englefield Green, which would not do much for my currently dismal score of 3 beers from Surrey. In my defence, one of them is the Ascot Anastasia Stout while the other two are Hog’s Back and were quickly forgotten. I suspect if you don’t live close by, Surrey is a beer county that you bypass. My abiding beer memory was Jubilee Day 1977 which I spent revising frantically for my finals. At 10.10 a friend put his head round my door to announce that our local in Egham was selling beer at 1952 prices. It was the fastest I ever moved but given that everyone else had heard the news, I barely got an order in before “last orders” sounded. One can apply to the beer what Woody Allen says of food at a grim hotel (1st guest “Terrible food!” Second guest. “Oh yes… and such small portions.”

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I have 22 Surrey rates so just missing that :slight_smile:

Should of had more as spent allot of my later educational years commuting from home (London) to Redhill College (also later worked twice in the area) but was always a wasteland for good drinking venues and as others have said just does not seem to be allot of exciting breweries from the surrey area, and even then beer does not get out much of there.

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After I’d been using Ratebeer for about 6 months it occured to me that it was not that difficult to get to the top for beers rated and breweries ticked. For the record I passed @TheydonBois twice, having to do it a second time after Big Smoke moved over. And trust me, to do that I had to drink a lot of shit beer and bin one pair of trainers after they got covered in cow shit.

As @Danlo noted I also pick up all the ciders I get hold of. Next: to pick up a bottle from Surrey’s sole meadery.

267 beers from 26 breweries.

Most Rated Breweries:

  1. Hogs Back @ 33
  2. Big Smoke @ 30
  3. Ascot @ 29
    =4. Godstone and Thurston’s @ 20

Top Rated Beers:

Ascot The Last of the Blue Devils Imperial Stout (Blood Orange) @ 4

Blackaddler Cherry Bomb @ 3.8

Ascot The Last of the Blue Devils Imperial Stout (Chestnut) @ 3.7

Ascot 10th Anniversary Imperial Breakfast Stout @ 3.7

Thurston’s Time Machine 2017 @ 3.7

Big Smoke Black Mountain @ 3.7

And my top rated cider:

Horse Kick Whisky Keg Cider 2017 @ 3.5

Thurston’s is probably my favourite local brewery. But they like a number of Surrey breweries seem to have very little interest in promoting themselves.

When I first moved over from Hampshire I was surprised how shit the pubs were around Woking/Weybridge. Previously Woking was where you went to the cinema and you only saw the other towns whe you passed through on the train. As @Grumbo mentioned, Inn At Home’s Guildford branch was a godsend, as was my local branch of Wine Rack in West Byfleet. Typically both then shut. However having been made redundant the manager of the Wine Rack was then asked to manage the Burpham (Guildford) branch and can now order from a wider range of wholesalers. They even had some Mills beers in at one point. There have been a few new places which have opened more recently: only been once but Guildford has a micropub/bottle shop called Growlers & Cans. Another new micropub opened last year in Chobham and Big Smoke’s Flintgate pub in Weybridge is probably the best place in my opinion. Keep meaning to got out to Reigate but never get around to it. In fact I’ve only been to Cobett’s in Dorking once. London is too easy to get to.by train, where as a lot of places in Surrey are really only accessible by car. Also with wife and child in tow a lot of my local weekend beer purchases are done at garden centres and farm shops. Later this year Maverick Brewery should be opening their brewery and tap in Farnham so looking forward to that - plus there are direct trains for me. Also need to get to Ascot’s new brewey tap at some point, they seem to have decent enough guest beers on plus their own (not very good) faux craft Disruption is Brewing beers on for tickage.

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Can I just say my 30 rates have gotten me into 40th place in the pecking order. Missed Glen’s mention of the required amount to get into the top 50 and just assumed 30 wouldn’t cut the mustard, so didn’t check; I have now.

<*))))))><

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Thanks for another interesting county write-up, I do enjoy reading these. I really should be doing better for Surrey than I am given that I used to live in Reigate (albeit only until the tender age of 5!) and I still have a few elderly relatives in that area. Also I work in the neighbouring county of Berkshire, so I think I’ll award myself a big “Must Try Harder” sticker up front on this one.

So… I have a pretty disappointing 20 rates… my 11th lowest (or 36th highest rated county, leaving me just outside the top 50 raters for the county.

My top Surrey beers are a bit dominated by Ascot:
Ascot Dark Horse 3.9
Ascot Anastasia’s Stout 3.7
Ascot Anastasia’s Imperial Stout 3.6
Surrey Hills Albury Ruby 3.3
Ascot Oktoberfest 3.3
Tilford Red Mist 3.3

I’ve only tried beer from 5 breweries, of which I’ve tried most from Hogs Back (11) and Ascot (6). Hogs Back beers make up most of the bottom half of my Surrey rates, so I’ll award them a big “Must Try Harder” sticker as well.

Placewise I’m afraid I haven’t rated any, although I’ve been to a number of family gatherings in pubs around the Reigate & Dorking area. Unfortunately the sort of pubs used for family gatherings aren’t the ones that are worth adding to Ratebeer!

I’ve possibly yet to see the best of Surrost of my time there has been in elderly relatives’ houses. It always looks quite a nice wooded, hilly, rustic county, and not what you imagine when someone refers to it dismissively as “the stockbroker belt” (that said, it’s pretty procey!). Bits I particularly remember are:

  • The great free food festival at Farnham (oddly with more Hampshire breweries & cideries than Surrey ones. There’s a good free castle there too, run by the local council & well worth a visit.
  • The lovely grounds of Guildford Castle (nice walk along the river there as well).
  • The clock at Abinger Hammer, which causes queues on the A25 when the little automaton pops out to strike the bell on the hour.
  • Visiting my aunt’s house at Albury Heath up on the North Downs, when the film “The Holiday” was being made in the house next door to her. The film crew were lovely, making tea for everyone in the hamlet etc. My aunt said that Cameron Diaz & kate Winslet were both really friendly to her, although they weren’t there on my visit.

@imdownthepub - the highest point of Surrey is an interesting one - it’s at Leith Hill (south of Dorking), 295m above sea level. A previous owner added a tower at the top (now owned by the National Trust) to take the “top” above 1,000ft and make it the highest point in the south east… If you’re interested in hillbagging Glen, the following website is what you want, listing almost 20,000 hills in the British Isles with stats breakdowns & attention to detail to rival Ratebeer!
https://www.hill-bagging.co.uk/

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Reading through the comments it appears that there is little love for Surrey and sadly I will pile on the misery. It’s not really a destination county unless you live there, aside from the Thames and plenty of trees I am hard pushed to think of many highlights, I don’t expect many if any of you have ever holidayed there. It’s quite densely populated and as I mention further down it probably suffers from being so close to London.

A fairly lacklustre county for beer but as others have mentioned its proximity to London doesn’t help. Surrey for me is also not too dissimilar to Hertfordshire another one of the commuter belt counties and one that has already been featured, for me it’s a drive through place. Anyway a pitiful 18 beers from Surrey and probably one of the few top 50 lists that I am not in and tbf don’t really care to be in or even close.

Ascot 7
Hogs Back 7
Little Beer Corporation 2
Surrey Hills 1
Accolade Wines 1

Surrey languishes in a pitiful 43rd place in my county ratings with only Northumberland, Isle of Wight and Rutland below it.

We visited Farnham many years ago and stopped at a camping place which was essentially a person’s drive/garden with separate facilities, but it was in woodland and a few km pleasant stroll into the town. However we recall the owner who was getting on in years and more than a bit strange, he called us into his house ‘nice place’ and promptly read some poetry to us in front of his wife about the love of his life which wasn’t his wife but a twenty year old car, there wad that awkward silence after and a bit of handwringing as we made our apologies looked at each other mildly stunned, and thought where the hell have we come to, ‘do not, I repeat do not go in there again’ pleaded Loz. On a positive note we found a couple of okay pubs in town and a great record shop but both wondered why, oh why come here when there are fabulous walks, pubs, beers, food etc in London.

My top five beers are

Ascot Anastasia’s Stout 3.9
Ascot Anastasia’s Imperial Stout 3.6
Ascot Anastasia’s Sloe Stout 3.6
Surrey Hills Shere Drop 3.5
Little Beer Fireside Table 3.5

I’ve rated 5 places all in Farnham on 10th March 2012 and my top place the Waverley Arms is now closed.

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73 beers from 20 breweries.

Had double figures from Ascot and Big Smoke.

Think various trips to Egham BF with Theydon of this parish has certainly helped scoop new breweries.

Will have to make an effort for Epsom brewpub.

Only 9 place rates. Probably got some backlog but it’s not the best. Same category as Beds or Herts kust that the top rater of those is not as sweary as @BeardedAvenger who did refer to @Theydon_Bois boss as a cnut at GBBF!

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In the Surrey dialect it’s a term of endearment.

I note you are the only person to have had a beer from Antoine’s, which was fine until he started brewing again. Not sure that the police will accept driving to Dorking to pick up a beer as an essential journey.

Tickers got to tick!

Think I picked that up in Dorking. Bottle shop and bar mentioned above

Mate is a GBG scooper and chases breweries.

Does 1 Antoines beer make me King of Surrey?