Commemorative Falklands beer to 'keep memory of those that were lost alive'

Brewing team and pump design for 809 beer.

Stephen Laing (centre) is the landlord of the Queens Head, Layham, and decided to come up with a special commemorative beer '809.' - Credit: Stephen Laing

A pub landlord from Layham has created a special commemorative beer for the 40th anniversary year of the Falklands conflict.

Stephen Laing, who runs the Queens Head, Layham, alongside his wife, is a Falklands veteran, and decided to create the golden style beer "809" as a commemoration of the conflict which happened between April and June 1982.

“I am a Falklands veteran having served on the Baltic Ferry, one of two ships taken up from trade based at Felixstowe, the other being the Nordic Ferry.

809 pump design.

'809' is the name of Stephen's commemorative beer. - Credit: Stephen Laing

"It occurred to me that there will be many specially brewed beers to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee this year but the Falklands campaign is no less significant. So with the help of Trevor Roberts who was head brewer at Tolly Cobbold and Ian the head brewer at Nethergates we produced a small test brew of '809'. 

“The name comes from the Harrier squadron that was hastily reformed for the conflict. I am reading a book about it by Rowland White and it struck me as a good name for a beer.

“I researched some hops and came up with admiral, chinook and pilot hops, because they seemed appropriate. Nethergates very kindly got some hops in especially for us to do the brew," Stephen said.

With the recipe now sorted Stephen began to serve the beer in his pub, with the uptake seemingly very healthy and thoughts of expanding hopefully on the horizon.

Trevor Roberts, Stephen Laing and Ian Carson.

Pictured left to right. Trevor Roberts former head brewer at Tolly Cobbold, Stephen Laing and Ian Carson head brewer at Nethergates. - Credit: Stephen Laing

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“It flew out! It’ll be nice to scale up and do a larger brew if there’s enough interest. I would also like a percentage of sales to go to the South Atlantic Medal Association.

“I’ve spoken to Parkway Brewery in Somerset and they’re based 13 miles from where the 809 Squadron were based and they’re interested in taking it so that’s fantastic."

Stephen is also passionate about keeping people informed and educated about the Falklands conflict and hopes his beer can do just that.

“It’s also to raise awareness, there's going to be plenty in the media about the Falklands campaign but it's a generation ago and there's less of us left so I think it’s quite right to raise awareness of such a turning point in British history. 

"It stimulates a conversation about the campaign and the extraordinary feat of assembling a Task Force so quickly and it keeps the memory of those that were lost alive. 

"That’s important and why it’s special,” Stephen added. 

The Baltic and Nordic at anchor in San Carlos in early June 1982.

The Baltic and Nordic at anchor in San Carlos in early June 1982. - Credit: Stephen Laing

Nethergate Brewery outside

Stephen was helped by Nethergate Brewery to create '809.' - Credit: Stephen Laing