A profile of Tony Hadley

“I wasn’t up all night with that one,” he says about the name. “It is made from lager ingredients brewed as an ale. It’s a bit different. We relaunched it two or three months ago with Great Yorkshire Brewery. Now it’s full steam ahead.” 

Hadley has been here before. The first incarnation of Hadley’s Gold was produced between 2007 and 2012 by a microbrewery in Bury St Edmonds, a small operation that was well-intentioned but got too big too quickly. “We had our own brewery, Red Rat Craft Brewery. The beer we were producing was pretty good. I just wasn’t happy with some of the quality and consistency. When it was good it was great, but it just wasn’t consistent enough – brewing is a science. You’ve got to be 100% dedicated and I wasn’t, if I’m honest – I was off doing my music stuff. I felt it was better to close things down and start again.”

With the Great Yorkshire Brewery’s Jo Tailor and Phil Lee brewing the beer under licence, Hadley feels the eponymous sequel is in good hands. “I get paid per bottle, per cask. It’s a bit like a musician’s royalty actually. I learned a big lesson from the first venture – get the best people in. And these people know their onions.” 

British ale has a divided reputation. There’s the hipster-led craft brewing scene fronted by the likes of Meantime and Camden, Brewdog and Innis & Gunn, but also the beers whose bottle or pump clip are adorned by steam trains and are mostly drunk by men who spot them. “What I can do is bring an awareness of real ale, that it’s not a pipe and slippers drink,” says Hadley. 

Sex, drugs and real ale has a ring. “Actually I never did the drugs and I was married young so the sex didn’t come into it. I didn’t like Champagne – it gives me heartburn. But I got on to real ales when I used to go to the Cotswolds. I used to go in this pub and ask for a light and lager – I’d never had a pint of real ale in my life. They looked at me as if I was from planet Zog.  “They said, have it if you really want but try the ale. So I tried it and thought ‘it’s not fizzy but it’s got a lot of taste’. That was it.” 

What about the rest of the band? “They’re all lager merchants – every single one of them. Though saying that, Gary [Kemp] has come over to real ale… actually Steve [Norman] has come over too.” 

Hadley also likes wine – right now he’s into whites from France and reds from Spain or Sardinia. And in the spirits world, perhaps picked up from his band days, Hadley has acquired a taste for American whiskey. “Jack [Daniel’s] is that rock ’n’ roll drink,” he says and tells of his prized Jack Daniel’s Frank Sinatra special edition – one freebee he had no problem accepting.