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Centenary toast for soldier’s WW1 ale

Image copyright PAyne family
Image caption Sgt Jack Payne stayed in the village of Silly after the war and married local woman Emilie Timmermans

A soldier who made ale for his homesick comrades in World War One is being honoured in Belgium 100 years after his first brew.

Sgt Jack Payne from Shepreth, Cambridgeshire, first produced Silly Scotch Ale on 13 October 1918.

It was named after the town of Silly in west Belgium where he was stationed with the Suffolk Regiment.

Family from the UK and Belgium have gathered at the brewery to toast his memory with the ale.

Image caption The small Belgium town of Silly has organised celebrations to mark the centenary of the first brew of Silly Scotch Ale

Brasserie de Silly brewery owner Bertrand Van Der Haegen said: “Jack wasn’t a brewer, but he knew how it should taste.

“We mixed the ingredients… the soldiers were happy, but also the Silly people thought it was a great beer and that’s why we still make it today.”

Image copyright Brasserie de Silly
Image caption The 100th anniversary brew celebrates its origins with Sgt Payne in uniform on the label – it is still brewed to the same recipe and using hops from Kent

Hops were in short supply in the summer of 1918, but Sgt Payne’s unit commander managed to order some from Kent.

He worked with Brasserie de Silly to create a coppery, red British beer to satisfy the thirst of his fellow soldiers.

After the war, Sgt Payne married his Belgian sweetheart Emilie Timmermans, worked in the brewery for many years and died in the town aged 86.

Image copyright PAyne family
Image caption Sgt Payne, pictured top right, with members of the Suffolk Regiment, some of whom missed British beer while stationed in Belgium

Angie O’Neill, from Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, is one of a number of cousins who are attending the centenary celebrations.

She said: “We knew about Uncle Jack being a soldier but the beer thing is all new to us.

“It’s been a great celebration today with our Belgian cousins – two cultures coming together, like the beer.”

Image caption Those attending the celebrations witnessed speeches, music and entertainment.

Stephen Payne, another cousin from St Ives in Cambridgeshire, said it was “an incredible story and he was an incredible man”.

He added: “It’s not a bad beer [but] I wouldn’t want to drink more than two of those – I think it would get me drunk.”

A new label has been created to mark the 100th anniversary of the beer, bearing an image of Sgt Payne in uniform holding a glass of Silly Scotch.

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