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 –
- Ascot Anastasia’s Imperial Stout
- Surrey Hills Greensand IPA
- Ascot Anastasia’s Stout
- Big Smoke Dark Wave
- Big Smoke Electric Eye
- Big Smoke Underworld
- Tillingbourne Hop Troll IPA
- Hogs Back OTT (Old Tongham Tasty)
- Thurston’s Milk Stout
- Surrey Hills Gilt Complex
The Top 5 Pubs / Bars in Surrey are –
- Hogs Back Brewery & Beer Shop, Tongham
- Egham United Services Club (EUSC), Egham
- Garland, Redhill
- Half Moon, Windlesham
- Plough Inn, Coldharbour
There is a highly rated Beer Store
- Cobbett’s Real Ales, Dorking
The Top 5 Raters of beers from Surrey are –
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.