After two long hard years of striving, Devitera’s Power Fail Pale Ale is being served in the Houses of Parliament in London this week. I can’t quite believe I’m able to say it, but it’s happened, and a big thank you to everyone who has made it possible, not least my wife, friend Tony, and Claire Perry MP.
Last night we were lucky enough to visit, get a guided tour, see the houses in session, and try the beer in “Strangers Bar”. I left the evening amazed, ecstatic, and with restored faith in democracy! The place is just amazing.
The tour started in the new building opposite Big Ben on the other side of the road. After passing through security we entered an amazing atrium with beautifully manicured trees, tables, and what looked like the odd shop. Rapidly passing through doors and various corridors, we descend into a tunnel under the road and Big Ben into the main building.
First stop is Westminster Hall which is oozing history. Henry VIII played tennis here, king Charles I was tried here, and kings and queens have laid in state. An amazing space with a beautiful stained glass window at the far end, and perfect for the monarch to address parliament (Her Majesty does this from the top step).
Next stop Central Lobby. If you’ve ever watched the news and a report from Parliament, this will look familiar. As we entered there are four corridors, each named, heading to the House of Commons, House of Lords, Strangers Bar, and Westminster Hall. In the corner stood Sky News waiting to report live (mental note: avoid the camera at all costs).
After getting tickets we visit the House of Lords, followed by the House of Commons. In both cases you climb steps to reach the public galleries, and upon entering the House of Lords we sat quietly to hear the debate on…..you guessed it “Exiting the European Union”.
To see the place in session with the Lords debating with the utmost sincerity was just inspiring. Great minds, famous faces, and noble experienced members of our society. I could have listened for hours.
Next stop the House of Commons. Almost instantly you notice the contract. It isn’t quite as posh as the House of Lords, even though it is just opposite. The place seemed a lot squarer than on TV and somehow slightly smaller. What you also don’t realise is that there are screens with clocks counting down your speech time. You only have 5 minutes before you have to stop.
Due to timing we had to move onto Strangers Bar where Devitera is being served. The bar is for MPs, and accompanied guests, and it was a truly surreal moment. I was thirsty and there is only one beer I need!
On a February evening it was warm and dry enough to go outside onto the terrace, and we were greeted with the most AMAZING view. The Thames, the London Eye, the atmosphere. It was incredible.
Claire Perry MP was kind enough to meet us there. Claire had had a busy day, I’ll leave you to read the news as to why, and it was wonderful that she could spare any time to say hi. A quick chat, photos on the terrace, and photos behind the bar, and she had to go. There was a vote at seven and she needed to be back. A few moments later a bell rang for what seemed like five minutes calling all MPs back to the house. Time to vote.
We remained on the terrace and had another round of beer. Apparently they’d just gone through the first cask, the manager complimented me on the beer, and I could understand why. Lovely easy drinking ale from Wiltshire.
TIME TO LEAVE
As we drank up and left the terrace I noticed people playing speed chess: unbelievable!
We wondered back through the corridors towards the exit next to Westminster Abbey. I had to stop as a man in a grey suit shuffled nonchalantly in front of me. He turned his head looked me straight in the eyes, and without any change in his manner walked in front of me. It was Lord Prescott.
The experience last night is a moment to savour: Devitera beer in the Houses of Parliament. Thank you to everyone who has helped make this happen. I can’t quite believe it!