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Boxford/Edwardstone: An ale brewed by a woman to help research into breast cancer goes on sale

15:00 28 January 2013

Penny Wilby from Boxford who produced her own Lady

Penny Wilby from Boxford who produced her own Lady's Smock beer at the Edwardstone White Horse Mill Green Brewery to raise money for breast cancer research. Penny Wilby and brewer Tom Norton

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A WOMAN from Boxford has entered the male-dominated world of brewing to help raise money towards research into breast cancer.

What started off as an idea for real ale fan Penny Wilby a few years ago has now become a reality thanks to the “overwhelming support” of a number of people who have given their talent and time.

Initially inspired by a promotion celebrating female brewers and touched by the story of her good friend Caroline Smith who is battling breast cancer, Mrs Wilby, of Holbrook Barn Road, has now created Lady’s Smock to raise money for breast cancer research.

One thousand four hundred pints of the 3.8% ale has been made with the help of her friend Tom Norton, who is head brewer at Mill Green Brewery, which is connected to the White Horse pub in Edwardstone.

A launch event for the tipple, which has been made using four types of hops and a pale malt, at the pub on Saturday has been hailed a success after 140 pints were consumed - all for a good cause.

Speaking ahead of the launch Mrs Wilby said: “I cannot actually believe it’s come together from an idea a few years ago. There’s been lots of interest as well which is really nice. I hope it goes well. I tested some yesterday [Friday] and it’s nice and clear and it seems to have worked. There’s always that worry.”

The 38-year-old said her friend, artist Paul Evans, of Lavenham Contemporary Gallery, had created a painting which is on the label and Jane Crick, of the Lion House Gallery in Lavenham, had designed the label and the pump clip.

Mrs Wilby, a mother-of-two who works for a company which produces magazines and websites, recommended women give her ale a go.

“There’s a perception women won’t like real ales. There’s also this perception of men with beers drinking in dark pubs, but there’s so many different types of nice beers. I hope there’s going to be a few women who are going to try this. It’s a nice alternative to other alcoholic beverages.”

Mrs Wilby now has a taste for brewing - which was a local industry pursued by women in the middle ages - and said she would “drop everything” to give it a go again.

“I had the best day brewing with Tom. It was so much fun. It’s like a mixture between chemistry and physics and cooking,” she said.

The serious side to the venture is raising as much money as possible for research into breast cancer.

Mrs Wilby described her friend, from Colchester, who was diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant with her fourth child, as a “fighter” and “just so positive”.

“Every bit of money that goes to the research will help undoubtedly in trying to find a cure for breast cancer. It is a really important cause.”

A proportion of the money from every pint sold will be donated. It is available in the White Horse and is set to be sold in the Fleece Hotel at Boxford and the Thatchers Arms in Mount Bures.

A limited amount of bottles with the label will also be sold and the original painting is going to go up for silent auction to also raise money for the cause.

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