Phil took us briefly through the history of beer itself then on to Everards, founded in Leicester in 1849. They later moved to Burton but in 1984 relocated to a brand new plant in Narborough just outside Leicester. Because only one member of the Everards family per generation is in charge of the business, Phil felt confident that they'll survive the current decimation of family brewers. As well as the Tram Depot, Everards own, locally, the County Arms Cambridge, Rose and Crown Histon and Plough Duxford.

Phil next described the brewing process, with particular reference to how things are done at Everards. Points of interest were that they sell their excess yeast to Japan for use in the distilling industry. Also, they keep their cask beers in the warehouse for 7 days before releasing them to trade, thus allowing them to condition properly (unlike a well-known Suffolk brewery which shunts the beer out almost before it's brewed).

Then on to what those assembled had been waiting for - the tutored tasting of the Everards range.

We began with Sunchaser (4.0%), brewed with lager malt and continental hops. A light, summery drink, I found it rather bland but then it's more a "convert-the-lager-drinker" beer than something for a hop-head like me.

Beacon (3.8%) is a moreish session beer with a long dry bitter finish after initial sweetness. An honest-to-goodness supping ale, not often seen in these parts.

Tiger (4.2%) is Everards best-known real ale, an excellent smooth, well-balanced ale which benefits from late dry-hopping.

We then sampled the current seasonal beer, Equinox (4.8%). This was light, sweet and well-rounded but in my view somewhat under-powered for its strength.

Next up was Pitch Black, a superb dry stout, brewed to coincide with autumnal rugby activity and therefore, for England fans, one to cry into. Its original name of All Black had apparently generated objections from New Zealand.

Finally to Original (5.2%), always a favourite of mine, being a complex full-flavoured ale featuring lots of malt and fruit against a hoppy backdrop. A great way to finish a most enjoyable session. Our thanks to John, the landlord of the Tram Depot, for inviting us along.

Paul Ainsworth