Bishops Finger is PW’s ale

The Daily Telegraph today carries an obituary for Bobby Neame whose name is associated with Bishop’s Finger ale.

It is appropriate that the Pilgrims’ Way has its own ale since St Thomas Becket is the patron of the Brewers’ Company.

Bishops Finger ale takes its name from the finger-shaped signposts pointing pilgrims the way to Canterbury and the tomb of Thomas Becket.

It is one of the UK’s oldest bottled beers and holds EU Protected Geographical Indication.

Bobby Neame joined the board of his Kentish family firm Shepherd Neame in 1957 and the following year Bishop’s Finger was launched.

Since 1958 it has been brewed by the head brewer of Shepherd Neame on a Friday using 100% natural ingredients: Kentish hops, barley, and the artesian mineral water.

Beer expert Roger Protz says that Bobby Neame hit back at cheap imports by exporting his strong Bishops Finger to Calais and other parts of Northern France where it became a cult beer.

Pub in Canterbury

The Bishop’s Finger pub on the approach to Canterbury’s West Gate

The Bishops Finger pub in Canterbury is on the Pilgrims’ Way between St Dunstan’s Church and the West Gate.

The 17th-century building had long been a pub when Shepherd Neame changed the name to The Bishops Finger in 1968.

At first the sign depicted a bishop raising his finger but last year this was replaced by the more appropriate picture showing pilgrims and a fingerpost.

Another Bishops Finger pub can be found in London’s Smithfield where Shepherd Neame renamed the Rutland Arms in 1981. Today it has the same sign as Canterbury.

The Bishop’s Finger pub sign
Detail from the Canterbury pub sign with the finger post showing Canterbury and Southwark
A drink on the Pilgrims’ Way

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