THE FOUNDER of one of Bolton’s favourite breweries has come out of retirement to make a special final pint.
Appropriately called “Swan Song”, this ale is the brain child of John Feeney, who founded Bank Top Brewery in 1995, and will be showcased at the 20th Bolton Beer Festival in October.
On September 12, he returned to Bank Top for the day to brew Swan Song, which was a “culture shock” for the 65-year-old from Egerton, who left the brewery in 2008.
The beer is a four per cent strength pale ale, and is made by a new American hop, with Bank Top’s owner Dave Sweeney describing it as a “nice, easy-drinking beer”.
“I just had an itch to make another brew and thought the festival would tie in nicely,” said Mr Feeney.
“There are two ways of looking at Swan Song, a final act before death or retirement or the 1974 Led Zeppelin record label.
“Let’s just say, I’m wearing the T-shirt.”
Mr Feeney founded Bank Top after being made redundant from the steel firm he had worked at for 23 years.
He said: “My wife just asked me what I wanted, I said a brewery, and she said “go out and get one”.”
Half of the 10 barrels of Swan Song Mr Feeney is producing will go to the festival, which will raise funds for the Bolton Lads and Girls Club.
Some will be sold in the brewery’s pub, The Tap in Astley Bridge, while the rest is up for sale.
With Bank Top set to open its second pub, The Ale House, in December after bosses bought the Brown Cow building in Horwich, Mr Feeney added that the company has gone from strength to strength since Mr Sweeney bought controlling shares in 2008.
Mr Sweeney, who was Mr Feeney’s first employee at Bank Top in 2000, said: “John has had nothing to do with the business since but we are long-standing boozing buddies, and he regularly comes to my pub in Astley Bridge to drink.
“He just said he might fancy coming out of retirement, and after a few beers one night I offered him the chance to come in and make a new brew.
“I’ve seen the recipe and it will be a nice, easy-drinking beer. It’s got some interesting hops in it.
“I’m looking forward to it and I know, with John’s reputation, that interest in the beer will be high.
Swan Song will be in a fermenter until September 19, when it will be barrelled and suitably conditioned in time for the festival.
The festival is at Bolton Rugby Club from October 9 to October 12.
Mr Feeney added: “I shall certainly be there, it’s the best beer festival in the country.”
Dark MIld (4%): A full-bodied dark mild, with a discernible liquorice flavour. A true staple of Bank Top.
Flat Cap (4%): The signature beer of Bank Top. A pale bitter with a refreshing citrus aroma before drinkers are left with a hoppy hit to the palette to finish up.
Pavilion Pale Ale (4.5%): Created after Bank Top moved to the pavilion building in Astley Bridge, this fruity pale beer has a novel peppery hoppiness.
Gold Digger (4%): Hopefully not named from bitter experience, this citrus beer packs a great punch of grapefruit and a touch of spiciness.
Old Slapper (4.2%): This blonde bitter has a strong fruitiness complimented perfectly by hoppiness that kicks in after a few moments.
Bad to the Bone (4%): In the words of Bank Top, a “thoroughly good pint”. A rustic, tan-coloured beer with floral qualities and delicate citrus notes.
Sweeney’s (3.8%): Made with a highly-rated German hop, this cutting-edge beer is one of the latest made by Bank Top, notable for its bold flavour and delicate spicy aroma.
Leprechaun Stout (6%): A rich stout in the Irish tradition, this is a “grand pint to be sure” according to Bank Top, with a blackberry and spicy fruit flavour.
Port o’ Call (5%): Dark and mysterious, this easy-drinking ale has had ruby port added for an extra depth of flavour. One for the connoisseur.
Bank Top Blonde (5%): A luscious, full-body pint with a kick and made from New Zealand hops, this has a pleasant woody aroma to complement its berry flavour.