The Directory of UK Brewers

The Flagship Brewery Ltd

AddressThe Flagship Brewery Ltd
The Old Posthouse
Church Lane
The Historic Dockyard
County (see footnote)Ceremonial
Local Authority


The following history was provided to us by Andrew Purcell in May 2001. Many thanks, Andrew for the info.

The Flagship Brewery was started up in February 1995 by Andrew Purcell and his Father-in-Law, Tony Smith. Andrew, a former Local Government Officer with Dartford Borough Council, had been a home brew enthusiast for over 10 years. It was at the Maidstone Beer Festival, (Museum of Kent Life, Cobtree) in 1991 that Andrew first joined CAMRA and he became interested in Micro Brewing after seeing articles in CAMRA's monthly paper, What's Brewing. Investigations at that time into the cost of setting up a micro-brewery could not be taken forward due to work commitments.

The situation started to change when, in June 1994, Andrew's job was affected by structural changes. An offer of redundancy was made which was accepted and the search for suitable equipment and premises began. Tony had agreed to assist with the financial side of the venture but as he became more and more interested with the running of the business it was decided to form a partnership.

The search for premises started where the interest began, at the Museum of Kent Life. There were, however, no existing buildings that could be easily adapted to house a brewery. Another location had to be found. Andrew was keen on developing a visitor area within the Brewery so the next approach was made to the Historic Dockyard, Chatham.

The Dockyard proved fruitful with the present warehouse unit being suggested. It seemed ideal having the right size, a good location, was central to a catchment of potential customers and had good road connections including a proposed Medway Tunnel nearby.

The unit became available in January 1995 and after preparation works the Brewery, a refurbished 5BBL plant, was installed on 9th February. The equipment, supplied by Total Brewing International of Worcester comprises a 7BBL Mash Tun with 5BBL Copper, Hot Liquor Tank, and 3 Fermentation Vessels.

Andrew decided on the name for the brewery after discovering that the HMS Victory was built in the Dockyard, this having been the "Flagship" of the famous Admiral Horatio Nelson.

Production commenced on 25th February with the popular Ensign (4.2%) brew followed by Futtock (5.2%), a dark ruby red ale. After these came Capstan (3.8%) (later replaced by a stronger version and renamed Trafalgar Bitter (4.1%)), Crows Nest (4.8%), a pale-coloured ale the style of which was requested by the Man of Kent, Rochester and finally Gang Plank (5.8%) which was produced as a Winter brew.

Other additions to these have been seasonal beers, Spring Pride (4.0%) produced in the Spring (and later raised in strength to 4.4%), an Autumn beer Moby Dick (4.4%) and, in 2001, a Summer offering of Powder Monkey (4.4%). Friggin In The Riggin (4.7%) was developed as a special request and has become so popular that it became a regular brew. A hop additive was added to the Ensign brew to create Spanker (4.2%). A special brew for the Millennium, Friggin Millenium (5.0%) has been retained as an occasional beer under the name Shipwrecked.

On the specialist side a stout named Old Sea Dog Stout (5.5%) was brought out at winter time and a mild Victory Mild (3.5%). Because of the Friggin in the Riggin's popularity, a stronger version was produced for Christmas 1997 named Friggin Yuletide (5.5%). This was retained instead of Gang Plank.

In addition to the main portfolio of ales, special brews have been carried out, firstly for VE Day called VE Special (4.0%) and one to commemorate the 190th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, Nelsons Blood (6.0%). This attracted a specialist following and due to requests was brewed at other times during the year. For the World Cup in June/July 1998, a special brew was produced, England Expects That Every Man Will Do His Duty (4.4%). This was received so well that it was retained for a time as B.S.T. (British Summer Time).

A new addition in 1998 was Destroyer (4.0%) which was brewed to raise funds for the restoration and maintenance of the last surviving world war two destroyer, HMS Cavalier, which was an attraction in the Historic Dockyard. Another fundraising brew Paddle Steamer Bitter (3.8%) was launched in July 2000 for the restoration of the paddle steamer "Medway Queen" which earned itself the title "Heroine of Dunkirk" in recognition of the many lives that it saved during the evacuation of Dunkirk in World War II.

The Brewery opened its first tied outlet in the Dockyard. Named "The Harbourmasters Club", it opened to visitors to the Dockyard during the daytime but restricted to members in the evening.

An award has recently been gained at the Small Independent Brewers Association South East Beer Festival held at Hove, Sussex on 24th/25th November. In a blind-tasting competition by a panel of judges, including the Head Brewer of Harveys Brewery and the Ex-Head Brewer of King & Barnes Brewery, the brewery's Capstan Ale (3.8%) came 1st in the "Standard Bitter" class. In addition, a separate voting by visitors to the Festival for "the people's choice" made the Crows Nest Ale (4.8%) 2nd overall.

The brewery went into voluntary liquidation during the late Spring 2003, but restarted under new ownership as Nelson Brewing Co. UK Ltd.

Beers Brewed

We do not maintain a list of beers brewed by each brewery. There may be a list on the brewery's own website. For historical information, we suggest you also visit the brewery page on the unfortunately no longer updated Beermad.


The information contained above was believed to be correct at the date indicated. However we accept no responsibility for any false, misleading or inaccurate information within this site. We are not The Flagship Brewery Ltd and have no connection with them. This is not their official web site. If you believe any of the above information to be wrong, then let us at know by contacting us.

All Trademarks and logos are recognized as the property of their owners.

Since the 1974 local government reorganisation there has been much controversy over many county boundaries. The links we provide cover all areas possibilities: Ceremonial Counties which are the counties for which a Lord-Lieutenant has been appointed, Historic Counties (and their allied county boroughs) which represent the position before the 1974 re-organisation and Local Authority which represents the third tear District level.

Last Updated : 14th July 2003