DARK BREW: Brewer Mark Watson with the stout he created to honour his great-grandfather
DARK BREW: Brewer Mark Watson with the stout he created to honour his great-grandfather

A TEETOTAL former dales minister is being honoured, ironically, with a stout named after him.

Benjamin Stockton Watson, spent a fair amount of his life in the 19th century in Teesdale before moving to Hartlepool where he famously founded a Methodist mission.

Now his great-grandson, Mark Watson, is paying tribute to him by naming his latest brew Old Ben’s Chocolate Oatmeal Stout.

His great-grandfather was born in Croft on December 17, 1863, but spent his childhood and early adulthood in and around Teesdale.

He married Mary Jane Holmes, from Stanhope, at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel at St John's Chapel in September 1888.

Mr Watson said: “They had eight children, the last few of whom were born in West Hartlepool, where the family moved to in 1895, when he started working at the steelworks as a storeman.

“He set up a Methodist Mission in Hartlepool, and became a notable local figure.

Sam Turner

“He was evidently an imposing sight as he walked the local streets prior to Sunday school, encouraging local children to attend.”

The couple’s golden wedding anniversary featured in the Hartlepool Mail which described Mr Watson as “a gifted preacher and a devout Christian” and the couple as “lifelong upholders of liberal principles”.

His great-grandson was born in Hartlepool in 1960 but moved to Essex in 1982 and started his own commercial nano-brewery soon after taking early retirement in 2016 –

Ironically, his father Fred Benjamin Watson worked at Camerons Brewery as an accounts clerk, despite also being “quite abstemious when it came to alcohol”.

Mr Watson said: “Rather than having a small number of regular beers, Watsons Brewery produces an ever-changing range of beers, and one challenge of which is finding a name and a design for each beer. Honouring my great-grandfather, Benjamin Stockton Watson seemed a good idea and so Old Ben’s Chocolate Oatmeal Stout was born.”

The brew is described as a modest 4.7%abv, and is dark velvetty.

The oatmeal makes the stout smooth on the palate, and the stout is not as roasty as many, Cacao nibs give the beer a subtle chocolate flavour.