Saturday 9th April 2016 saw a group from White Horse Branch head for Stroud, to visit Stroud Brewery and a few local pubs. On arrival at the brewery, only 1 min late on the itinerary, we were greeted by Greg Pilley, the owner and one of the brewers.
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Greg set the brewery up in May 2006 with a 5-barrel plant. The first brew was called Budding, named after Ernest Beard Budding who in 1830 produced the world’s first lawn mower on the site where Stroud brewery stands today. Due to the demand and the need to improve his own work-life balance, Greg took on his first member of staff in 2008, an Aussie with experience from Scottish and Newcastle. Also in 2008 the first bottle beers were released. By 2009, the 5-barrel plant was at capacity and Greg needed to upsize. Fortunately, larger premises next door to the existing brewery were available and with some support from the EU by way of a grant and help from friends, in 2011 the new 20-barrel brewery was ready to start production. Today Greg has 7 staff in his team who are brewing 3 times a week. An on-site bar is also open at weekends.
Organic standards apply throughout the brewery, including locally-sourced malt and hops and as this year sees the 10th anniversary, new products are planned, including an unfiltered elderflower flavoured beer at 4.9% ABV, which will be the first to be sold in cans.
Beers on the bar on the day were Budding Pale Ale 4.5% ABV, Redcoat Red Rye IPA 5.4% ABV, Big Cat Stout 4.5%, O.P.A. (Organic Pale Ale) 4.0% ABV and Tom Long Amber Bitter 3.8% ABV, all of which were greatly enjoyed by the Branch. As if things couldn’t get any better, Greg treated us to samples of bottled Gegarang Village Sumatran Coffee Ale 6.9% ABV, matured in oak whisky casks, which all agreed was sublime.
In 2006 when Greg set up Stroud brewery, Gloucestershire had 12 breweries, today it has 36 and counting.
A great day was had and we recommend a visit to the bar where 10% of the beer produced is sold . Live music is also on most weekends, check on the website: http://www.stroudbrewery.co.uk/
Also worth a mention are the pubs we visited. The Crown & Sceptre, situated at 98, Horns Road, Stroud GL5 1EG. It is a gem, with local support and superb real ales. The Ale House, 9 John Street GL5 2HA, is a vast, modern revision of an old building with almost too comfortable arm chairs. A couple of miles out of town took us to The Woolpack in Slad, GL6 7QA, renowned for its views, its Uley and Stroud ales and its famous former regular, Laurie Lee. Finally, we came home via an old favourite, the Red Lion in Cricklade, home of Hop Kettle brewery. And so to bed.