The brewing bug bit Jeff Rosenmeier in 1994 after tasting a friend’s home made stout at a Wisconsin summer BBQ. One of many ‘beer epiphanies’, Jeff couldn’t believe the result and the next day bought brewing equipment and a book, soon discovering a hidden passion.
Jeff moved to Henley-on-Thames in 1996 and fell in love with the beauty of the area. He continued to develop his brewing skills while taking a keen interest in the town’s rich brewing tradition and the up and coming craft brewing movement.
In June 2005, Jeff decided to make his passion his day job, leaving behind a successful career in software engineering, he set up a small brew plant on his property and began piloting his flagship beers on a small scale. Jeff was nano brewing before the term was invented.
Jeff said, “I started delivering beer in small quantities to a few of the local bar owners and was really encouraged that, like me, people were looking for something local, something authentic, something different”.
The inspiration for the Lovibonds name came when Jeff was viewing a site in Henley for the brewery, which had previously been home to John Lovibond and Sons, Brewers and Wine Merchants.
Jeff said, “We were discussing the uses of the building through its history and the existing tenant handed me a lovely antique Lovibonds stone bottle. Every brewer in the world knows the Lovibond colour scale, but few know the history behind the name. I always loved the quirky name and was impressed by the respect that the brand still had locally, and so Lovibonds Brewery was [re]formed.”
Today the Lovibond name is known throughout the brewing and food science industry because of the invention of the Tintometer, by Joseph Williams Lovibond.
The Tintometer uses a series of coloured glass slides to measure and classify colours in liquids.
The system was widely adopted across a large number of industries, including brewing.
Today, brewers around the world still classify the colour of their beer and buy their malt using the Lovibonds colour scale.
The Tradition of Brewing in Henley on Thames
The historic riverside town of Henley-on-Thames, renowned for its annual Royal Regatta, has a brewing tradition that goes back more than two hundred years.
The river Thames was used as a port, bringing raw materials to the local craftsmen. Barley from the area was malted in one of the many malt houses.
In 1823 Henley-on-Thames was home to at least 12 maltsters and so far, historians have discovered 42 malt houses within the town’s boundary. The maltsters had little trouble selling on their end product as nearly as many brewers set up shop to make use of the local malted barley.
In 1854 at least 5 breweries were taking the local raw materials and creating ales and lagers for local consumption. These breweries included: Greys Brewery on Friday Street, Cannon Brewery behind the Argyll pub, Crown Brewery in Market Place, Union Brewery and Ives Brewery.
As with most industries, Henley saw its brewers partner with each other or be sold on, leaving only one brewer for a majority of the 20th century. Brakspears brewery was founded in 1779 and continued to brew in Henley until the site was sold in 2002. Brakspear beers are now brewed by Marstons.
John Locke Lovibond started brewing beer in the west country.
Brewing moved to Greenwich with the purchase of the Nag's Head Brewery on Bridge Street. At this time the majority of the business was with public houses and direct to private households.
New brewery built on Greenwich High Road from land purchased from the London and Greenwich Railway.
Partnership set up between four sons of John Locke Sr., namely John Locke Jr., Joseph Williams, Edward and Thomas Watson Lovibond, trading as John Lovibond & Sons, Greenwich and Joseph Williams Lovibond, Salisbury. Business started to expand by increasing the number of depots. These depots acted partly as shops but were essentially stores from which deliveries were made locally, thus expanding the area of coverage.
Limited company formed, trading as John Lovibond & Sons Ltd.
Frederick Williams Lovibonds was made the manager at the Cannon Brewery, Fulham - though closed in 1909.
The list of branches increases to 35 with the purchase of Ives Bros in Henley-on-Thames.
Number of shops increased to 71.
Greenwich site damaged by doodle bug bombs as well as several other London shops, with the brewery out of operation for a short period of time.
Traditional family brewing under pressure by large brewing companies. Lovibonds brew its last batch of beer, the company choosing to focus on being a quality wine merchant and retooled the business accordingly.
Lovibonds were purchased by Wine Ways Supermarkets Ltd - a wholly owned subsidiary of London Rubber Co. (makers of Durex condoms). At the time of purchase there were 104 shops in the Lovibond portfolio.
The Greenwich premises were closed and sold to John Davy & Co.
Lovibonds Brewery Ltd formed in Henley-on-Thames by Jeff Rosenmeier, one of the first Nano Breweries in the UK, brewing 100 litre batches.
Jeff started brewing Lovibonds beer at Luxters Brewery in nearby Hambleden and packaging them at their Henley Market Place location.
Lovibonds opened their Tasting Room in Henley-on-Thames.
Lovibonds takes on lease for new Henley production facility and begins construction.
Lovibonds brew their first beers on their new state of the art brewery, bringing all brewing and packaging under one roof.