Cheers! Penny gets a taste for charity brew

GOOD BREW: Penny Wilby with Tom Norton, right, and Paul Evans, who have helped her make her own beer.
GOOD BREW: Penny Wilby with Tom Norton, right, and Paul Evans, who have helped her make her own beer.

A Boxford mother has designed and produced her own beer to be sold in aid of a charity at three pubs.

Penny Wilby has been perfecting the special brew at Mill Green Brewery in Edwardstone.

Called Lady Smock, the pale ale will be launched this weekend at the White Horse pub, which is owned by the brewery.

It will also be on sale at Boxford’s Fleece Hotel and at the Thatcher’s Arms in Mount Bures.

Real ale-lover Penny, 38, from Holbrook Barn Road, decided to raise money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer after a good friend was diagnosed with the disease.

Having endured specialist treatment at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge and a double mastectomy, Penny describes her friend as a “complete trooper” who inspires her.

“I can’t run or do marathons, that’s just not me,” said Penny, who works in marketing for an online IT magazine. “But I wanted to show my support, and this is something a bit different.

“It started when I saw an advert about women brewing beer. Before the industrial revolution, when men and machines took it over, all beer brewers were women. I said to my husband Dave ‘I reckon I could do that’.

“I mentioned it to Tom Norton at the brewery, and he thought it was a good idea and agreed to do it for charity.”

Penny, who has two children, Charlotte, five, and Jess, eight, went to the brewery last weekend to make the beer.

She ended up with 1,400 pints and 120 bottles at the end of the brewing day.

“I had a brilliant time,” she said. “It was a mixture between chemistry and baking a cake.”

Penny had discussed in advance with the brewery the flavour and look of the beer she wanted to produce.

“I didn’t want anything that would put hairs on anyone’s chest or anything,” she said.

“The most tiring bit was cleaning the malt and water mixture which has to be drained away.”

The idea for the beer’s name came from Lavenham artist Paul Evans, who suggested the meadow flower called lady smock.

He has designed the label, and also the pump clip – and Penny says the results are beautiful.