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Joseph Cowen returns to Parliament thanks to Firebrick Brewery and Tyneside MP

Firebrick Brewery's Alistair Lawrence and MP Dave Anderson at Stranger's Bar in the House of CommonsA Newcastle MP has made a return to the Parliament – 113 years after his death – with a little help from a Tyneside brewer.

Joseph Cowan Jnr. was one of the region’s greatest ever MPs, serving 13 years in Westminster from 1873 to 1886.

And now he’s returned – in nickname at least – with Firebrick Brewery’s 3.8% ABV bitter Blaydon Brick hitting the House of Commons Stranger’s Bar, after being nominated by present day MP Dave Anderson.

“Many ales get a spotlight in the Commons watering hole and this time provides a good opportunity to alert drinkers to what is one of the finest beers from our region and in the whole country.

“I hope that this helps boost the Brewery and the local economy at the same time.

“The brewery is fairly new and a great success story for Blaydon. It has massively expanded in just a few months and could do much to put Blaydon on the map.

“Besides, it’s a very fine real ale.”

Joseph Cowan Jnr. – nicknamed The Blaydon Brick because of his short stature, uncouth, working class appearance, forthright views and background in the Tyneside brick tade – was like his father before him a radical who campaigned for miners to get the vote, and sent pamphlets across Europe hidden in shipments of building materials.

In 1858 he helped found the Newcastle Daily Chronicle becoming its first editor. The paper would ultimately merge with the North Mail to become the North Mail and Newcastle Daily Chronicle in 1922, before finally becoming the Newcastle Journal – the sister title to today’s Newcastle Chronicle – in 1939.

The beer that bears his nickname was one of the first two ales to come out of Firebrick Brewery, which appropriately enough is based on Blaydon’s Cowen Road, in March 2013.

“I’d been running sports facilities for 25 years and headed the operational input for the £32m investment in sports facilities at Northumbria,” said brewer Alisatir Lawrence, who started out with the 2.5 barrel plant from Sunderland’s defunct Bull Lane Brewery.

“At the time of the redundancy, for my own interest, I had already taken a start-up brewing course at Brewlab in Sunderland, so decided to make a go of it.

“Having Blaydon Brick at the bar of the Commons should increase demand for the beer locally and help our business as part of the local economy.”

Firebrick is the fourth Tyneside brewery to see its beer served in Stranger’s this year, following in the footsteps of Newburn-based Hadrian Border and Big Lamp breweries, and – only last week – Wallsend-based Cullercoats Brewery.

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