Meet Bucklebury Brewery

Ray Herbert & Steve Harris pouring Bucklebury Black at the Cow & Cask 20/11/2021

On Saturday 20 November 2021, Steve Harris and Ray Herbert greeted 13 people at the Cow & Cask, Newbury, for a Meet the Brewer event organised by landlord Ian Batho.

Before the 7.30pm start, customers had been drinking from the current range of cask ales which included Bucklebury Best.

Steve introduced Bucklebury Brewery saying:

We set the business up about April 2020 and got our brewing licence in July 2020.

Tonight, we’ve got four different beers, our mainline beers, for you to try. We’ve got a couple of other specials if you fancy something that’s a little bit experimental. The two specials are not on sale at the moment but we welcome any feedback if you fancy trying those, they’re a little bit different.

I started off brewing when I was about 16 and at college. I kept brewing off and on all the time. Ray and I, have known each other as friends for about 12 years. We were stood at the bar in the Cottage Inn, the local pub in Upper Bucklebury and we got into a conversation about brewing. At the time we didn’t know a huge amount about brewing but bit by bit we built up the skills and some kit and got going.

We are kind of homegrown home brewers in a way in that some of the kit we use is still at homebrew scale but not all of it. We’ve built up the kit so the production kit we use is about 100 litres, the fermenters are up to 200 litres so we’ve got up to about 700 / 750 litres of fermentation in total.

I mentioned the Cottage Inn, we’ve been working closely with them for a while and they are sort of the test bed in a way so they’ve been really good about supporting us and getting us off the ground and so through the Cottage we started selling beer to them in tall kegs and they were selling it through lockdown for takeaways.

We got into bottles last Christmas when we had a decent demand for the beers and now we’re into casks. Ian’s got a cask of Bucklebury Best on here and we’ve started to get the beer out into other pubs now.

We’ve got four beers that we produce so we’ve got two kinds of pubby type beers. Bucklebury Gold is the first one we made which is a golden ale, a bit citrussy. We’ve got Bucklebury Best, a traditional best bitter.

Bucklebury Brewery core bottle range. (Photo: Bucklebury Brewery)

We’ve also got Bucklebury Black which is a Black IPA so it looks a bit like a stout but it’s brewed in the way of an IPA.

We’ve also got Bucklebury Harvest which is a German style Marzen beer. It’s brewed with an ale yeast, not a lager yeast, but it’s a lager beer.

It’s a second job for me, my main job is in IT. I kind of balance it and work from home on the IT side and the brewery is in my garage. It started off as about 1/3 of the garage and it will probably grow to fill the whole garage.

Ray then introduced himself saying:

My background is nothing to do with beer at all it’s in electronics. I worked a lot around the Newbury area as a testing engineer in electronics but always interested in ale. I did some winemaking when I was about 18 so knew a bit about the process of fermentation.

When we were talking in the pub we thought it would be a great idea to try and produce some beer. We did lots of brews that we gave to our work colleagues, friends and family to see what they thought of all these beers. They were the ones who kept saying ‘This is really good stuff you ought to think about selling it’ and that is what got us thinking.

I thought I’d retired but now I’m not, it certainly keeps me busy. I’d retired from work for about a month. We started putting the business together. We had to get in touch with HMRC and West Berkshire Council for the licence applications which went through pretty smoothly.

Gary at the Cottage was really helpful. When he had his first outdoor event during lockdown we supplied him and it went really well and that gave us more heart to produce a bit more and from there we formulated our own recipes and it was just deciding on what we thought the public might like with a couple of special stronger ones as well.

When questions were invited, Steve Kelly asked about the Bucklebury Brewery logo.

Steve Harris explained that it’s two bees to match the initials of Bucklebury Brewery. Steve added that his daughter does all the branding and images for the brewery.

The first beer to be sampled was Bucklebury Gold.

Steve explained that it is brewed with Fuggle and Challenger hops. He also mentioned a little bit of extra flavouring which gives it a citrussy finish, but said

I’m not going to tell you what it is. That’s the thing that makes it a little different. It is 4.3%.

When we bottle, cask or keg it goes in unfiltered. We put finings in the cask but not in the kegs. The kegs are convenient for serving with CO2 for top pressure. That was the beer we got started with, we converted lager drinkers with Bucklebury Gold.

Asked about the later adoption of casks, Steve said:

We only got into casks because of the Newbury real ale festival. We had to rapidly get some casks. Now we have got the casking right the next pubs we will probably try and supply are the Bladebone, Chapel Row, and the Old Boot Inn and the Bull in Stanford Dingley. The colour band registered for Bucklebury Brewery casks is Yellow, Yellow, Grey.

Ian Batho chipped in to say that he prefers breweries who collect their empty casks promptly and the tardy breweries are likely to go to the back of his list for reorders.

Bucklebury Harvest

After Bucklebury Best, Bucklebury Harvest was the third beer to be served. Describing the beer, Steve said:

This is a German style beer. It’s got a Pilsner malt base as opposed to the Maris Otter with a few others in there as well. There’s a little bit of a very dark malt in there. The hops are German. The main bittering hops is one called Tettnang and then there’s a noble hop called Hallertau Mittelfruh which is the aroma hop. Bucklebury Harvest takes quite a long time to ferment out and is akin to a sort of lager style.

It comes in this form at 5.8% which is too strong for pubs typically. On request we’ve created a sister of Harvest which we’ve called Bucklebury Fireside. We got it into the Cottage Inn for their fireworks do. They have an outside bar there and they had two casks of that. We’re going to add Fireside in as a seasonal beer which we’ll keep doing in cask. It’s 3.9% ABV.

Bucklebury Black

Bucklebury Black was the fourth beer to be sampled and this was served from bottles. This is a Black IPA brewed with Citra hops. This is a favourite beer style of Steve’s and he said:

One of our principles is that I don’t want to make beer that I don’t want to drink.

Having completed a tasting of the core range, the next sample to be offered was an experimental fruited sour beer with ingredients including beetroot, apple and cherry. It was smooth and slightly sour.

Finally, there was an opportunity to taste an experimental pale ale brewed with New Zealand hops, served from a bottle and tentatively named WaiKiWi. This was dry and those commenting were finding the beer rather bitter.

Asked about the future of Bucklebury Brewery, Steve said:

I honestly don’t know. At the moment we’ve got limited outgoings and limited risk. The moment we grow we’ll have to rent somewhere.

Asked about outlets apart from pubs where Bucklebury Brewery bottled beers can be found, Steve listed:

  • Casey Fields Farm Shop at Vicars Game, Ashampstead
  • Cook & Butcher, Thatcham
  • Hampstead Norreys Community Shop
  • Bradfield Southend Village Shop
  • Peaches Stores, Upper Bucklebury

To read more about Bucklebury Brewery and find photos of the brewery equipment visit their Facebook page: @BuckleburyBrewery

The Bacon Arms, Newbury

The Bacon Arms, 10 Oxford Street, Newbury, offers accommodation and beers from Marston’s breweries. It is a Grade II listed 18th century coaching inn, which may have 17th century origins. It is named after the Bacon family who were based at Elcot Park in Kintbury.

Ian MacQuire is the new Landlord at The Bacon Arms. Ian has previously run The George and Horn at Kingsclere. Prior to becoming a Publican he served for 10 years in the Army.

A special interest of Ian’s is matching beer with chocolate. Perhaps West Berkshire CAMRA should investigate getting Ian involved with this for a themed social event at the pub?!

The kitchen at the Bacon Arms has reopened, including serving roasts on a Sunday. Special offer nights are Curry night (Wednesday) and Grill night (Thursday). For meal details visit the Menus page on the pub’s website.

The pub is usually open daily from 12 noon.

Live music returns with Gary Myles on New Years Eve 2021 and there will be a Jazz Night on 22 January 2022. A Comedy Night is planned for 21 January 2022. The pub is looking for someone to host Quiz Nights and anyone interested should contact Ian directly.

The exterior of the pub has changed over the years as shown in the photo below, from several years ago.

Phone: 01635 31822

Website: baconarmspub.co.uk

Facebook: @baconarmsnewbury

Meet the (Bucklebury) Brewer at the Cow & Cask

Ian Batho has independently arranged a Meet the Brewer event with Steve Harris (Bucklebury Brewery) on Saturday 20 November (7.30pm) at the Cow & Cask, Inch’s Yard, Market Street, Newbury. RG14 5DP

There will be a cask of beer from the brewery on tap and samples of the other beers brewed at Bucklebury Brewery will be distributed during the event to allow all the beers to be tasted. Steve will talk about the micro brewery, the individual beers and plans for the future and answer any questions.

The four core Bucklebury Brewery beers are: Bucklebury Gold (4.3% ABV), Bucklebury Best (3.7% ABV Bitter), Bucklebury Harvest (5.8% ABV, Autumnal ale showcasing German malts and hops) and Bucklebury Black (5.7% dark IPA with New World hops).

Tickets are £5 per person and attendance is limited to 15 maximum. To confirm a booking, cash payment in advance is required at the Cow & Cask (NB Limited opening hours www.facebook.com/cowandcask). Any enquiries to Ian Batho 07517 658071 or email: cowandcask@gmail.com

GBBF at Your Local: White Hart, Hamstead Marshall

Enjoy a sample of Saviour Sanity, Saviour Boozer, Saviour Gold & a pot of nuts for £5 during The Great British Beer Festival held at The White Hart Inn from July 30th until Aug 8th 2021. After a beer tasting at the pub or in the garden, there are 3 litre take away options for £10 each for one or more of the Saviour beers which are all brewed on site.

The White Hart, Hamstead Marshall, is the first pub in our branch to take advantage of the central publicity offered by CAMRA to encourage people to support their local pubs and breweries during the period when the Great British Beer Festival would normally be taking place at London Olympia. (The GBBF has been cancelled in 2020 and 2021).

Visit the White Hart, Hamstead Marshall website saviourwhitehart.co.uk for details of opening hours etc.

Visit the GBBF at Your Local website for details of other events and competitions.

Other pubs or breweries wishing to take advantage of this free national publicity, from 30 July until 8 August 2021, can find details under the ‘Get Involved‘ tab at: local.gbbf.org.uk

Meet the Brewer – Richard Marshall, Hermitage Brewery

West Berkshire CAMRA hosted its first Meet the Brewer Zoom event on 8 April 2021. At the free event, Richard Marshall talked about Hermitage brewery and introduced three beers which some participants had purchased in readiness.

Richard Marshall suggests: Lodestone Mild, Wellhouse IPA & Hermitage Blonde

Richard Marshall (Hermitage Brewery) writes:
I’ve long had an professional interest in fermented foods having been a research scientist studying cheese production. Project funding was cut in 1992 and so I moved into academia, teaching food science. I’d been brewing ales for my own enjoyment for many years so when I was made redundant, again, in 2012, friends persuaded me that I could go commercial. It took about a year to set up the brewery, which is at the back of our house in Hermitage. The first beer produced was Grimsbury Castle, named after the Iron Age hillfort that is just a few hundred metres away. Since then, the range of ales has expanded so that now there are 7 that we produced fairly regularly and another 5 or so that are produced seasonally.

Beers tasted during ‘Meet the Brewer’:

Hermitage Blonde
ABV 4.8% OG 1044
Along with the pale malt there’s a touch of wheat malt. Lightly hopped with Challenger and East Kent Goldings hops. As with most ‘blonde’ ales it is slightly cloudy, which comes from the wheat malt. Light gold in colour and easy drinking.

Wellhouse IPA
ABV 5.0% OG 1046
Made with our favourite Maris Otter pale malt from Warminster. Then First Gold and Northdown hops are added in the copper. Dry-hopped with East Kent Goldings for 5 days which gives lovely citrus notes. The name comes from a local hamlet where there was once a well and a Roman villa.

Lodestone Mild
ABV 4% OG 1043
Chocolate and crystal malts give the depth of malt flavour and colour along with our favourite Maris Otter pale malt from Warminster Maltings, which balances out the hops. The hops used are First Gold and Fuggles, the classic English hop.

Stockists:

Richard writes: I can now confirm that the following outlets will have all the beers that we’ll be tasting in the Meet the Brewer event for my brewery. They are: The Inn at Home, Hermitage PO and Stores, the Pangbourne Cheese Shop and Hampstead Norreys Community Shop. There are others but they won’t always have the full range. If people wish to pre-order, they can do this through me (hermitagebrewery@btinternet.com) but must collect from Hermitage PO and pay there. Richard also advises that the cost for the 3 bottles from Hermitage PO and Stores would be £7.50.

Inn at Home, Newbury, offers free delivery for orders over £30 https://www.innathome.co.uk/ Opening hours: Sunday 11.00am – 4.00pm, Monday – Closed, Tuesday to Saturday 10.00am – 4.00pm. Phone: 01635 48945

Hermitage brewery on Facebook: www.facebook.com/hermitagebrewery

a screenshot from the Zoom event – Richard Marshall used a photo of Hermitage Brewery as a backdrop

About 15 participants logged onto Zoom at 7.30pm and the event started with a brief introduction from Andy Pinkard, Chair of West Berkshire CAMRA.

Richard Marshall described his experience of brewing as being ‘a hobby, a very enjoyable hobby’. He started brewing with kits but moved onto whole grains before deciding to ‘go commercial’ in 2012.

The Hermitage brewery kit comprises a Mash Tun below a Hot Liquor Tank (HLT) and a ‘Copper’ for the boil. The half barrel size kit is adequate for brewing 2 firkin casks (72 pints each). The fermenting vessels each hold 100 – 120 litres. Richard sometimes does ‘back to back’ brews and is able to blend the two resulting beers at the packaging stage for consistency. The yellow hosepipe in the brewery photo is for cooling the wort after the boil and rainwater can be used for this process which has been improved recently for quicker cooling. Richard described his brewery as a nano brewery and said ‘I have a pico kit’.

During Lockdown most of the brewery output has been packaged in 500ml bottles. To bottle 180 bottles takes about an hour. The bottle labels are designed and printed at the brewery. Richard’s daughter helps with label designs.

Richard is not sure about expanding. The brewery is currently profitable allowing reinvestment in items like a pH meter to accurately measure acidity. He said ‘I want to go on brewing as long as I can. I don’t have room to expand here.’

Richard brews beers that he enjoys drinking. He uses ‘day sheets’ to record all the brewing data. Since December 2020, he records this data on a Tablet using Google Sheets.

Asked about the recipes he uses, Richard explained that it is easy to find recipes but he would normally adapt any published recipe he found to suit the brewery. For ingredients, he uses dried yeast and mainly English (whole leaf) hops from Charles Faram. Malt is sourced from Warminsters Maltings and conveniently this was not far off his route when his work was at Bath Spa University. The water used is from the Thames Water domestic supply. He may add gypsum to increase the sulphate level.

For bottled beers, Richard adds a different ‘killer’ yeast at bottling time which takes over from any remaining original yeast.

Free accreditation of Bottled or Canned Beers as Real Ale in a Bottle/Can  (RAIB/RAIC) - CAMRA Northern Ireland

No forced carbonation is used and CAMRA considers Hermitage Brewery bottle conditioned beers are Real Ale in a Bottle.

Richard talked about the different Hermitage Brewery beers including Hocktide (supplied to the Hungerford Hocktide lunch), Summer of Love (for which a Belgian yeast is used), Harvest Time (autumn seasonal).

The winter seasonal is FrostBite ‘a light, bright ale – crisp and clean’.

Asked about where drinkers can find Hermitage Brewery beers, Richard mentioned the Cow & Cask in Newbury, the Spotted Dog in Cold Ash, the Fox at Peasemore and local beer festivals like the Newbury Real Ale Festival.

There are no online sales and he does not sell from the premises due to licence requirements and associated costs.

Image result for zoom help center

Zoom help centre: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/categories/200101697-Getting-Started

Beer & Cider for local collection & delivery (Feb 2021)

This list is ‘Work In Progress’ – please advise editor@westberkscamra.org.uk of any errors or omissions. Check weblinks for further details.

Alphabetical order. Associated text for Pubs in black, Breweries in dark red, cider makers in green, bottle shops in purple. (weblinks shown in blue)

C = collection possible (note restricted hours and that advance order is usually required before collection), D = delivery possible (note minimum order &/or charge may apply).

Ciderniks, Kintbury – C & D

Cow & Cask, Newbury – D

Green Shed Cider, Newbury – D

Delphic Brewing, Thatcham – D

Indigenous Brewery, Chaddleworth – C

Inn at Home, Newbury – C & D

John O’Gaunt, Hungerford – D

Pang Valley Cider, Cold Ash – D

Spare Wheel, Newbury – D

Two Cocks Brewery, Enborne – D

Tutts Clump Cider, Stanford Dingley – C & D

West Berkshire Brewery, Yattendon – C & D

Wild Weather Ales, Silchester – C & D

In January 2021 Zoë Andrews updated the Reading & Mid-Berkshire CAMRA Mine’s A Pint Online LocAle posts to reflect changes since April 2020. How to keep it LocAle in Lockdown pt. 1 (Updated January 2021) now also mentions A Hoppy Place in Windsor and some local breweries and cidermakers offering collection &/or delivery services. How to keep it LocAle in Lockdown pt. 2 (Updated January 2021) now includes Berkshire Beer Box and Dolphin Brewery as well as some more local breweries and cidermakers offering collection &/or delivery services.

Pulling Together Resources - CAMRA - Campaign for Real Ale

Berkshire Beer Box delivers a monthly selection

Since November 2020, Jymi Plumer, has been collaborating with breweries in Berkshire to select eight beers per month for delivery exclusively to the county’s beer lovers.

The eight breweries for each month are selected in advance and shown on the website. However, recipients still get a surprise when opening the box to see which beers are included. This choice is based on Jymi’s discussions with the breweries and some beers may not be selected until the last moment as this is dependent on availability.

There will be a variety of styles and strengths so it is a good way to try some quality beers that you might otherwise miss.

The box may also include extras like beer mats or bonus items.

The Berkshire Beer Box website explains that there is a start and end date for placing an order for delivery on a specific Friday-Sunday period.

Payment (initially £25 per box) is taken using PayPal Checkout that can accept credit / debit cards.

The contents of past boxes can be viewed on the website. Beers from breweries in West Berkshire in the first two boxes included: Indigenous Brewery (Ammo Belle, Double Warp); West Berkshire Brewery (Good Old Boy, Renegade Lager); Butts (Golden Brown); Wild Weather Ales (Shepherds Warning).

The BBB website has a Frequently Asked Questions section and an area for signing up to register interest for updates.

Rob Cheshire of Berkshire Business Voices recorded a podcast with Jymi Plumer about Berkshire Beer Box and there is a link to listen to this from the BBV website.

It is also possible to keep up with Berkshire Beer Box on social media:

Twitter: twitter.com/berksbeerbox

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Berkshire-Beer-Box-104320244680748

Instagram: www.instagram.com/berkshire.beer.box

Website: www.berkshirebeerbox.co.uk

Instagram post showing the eight beers from the December Berkshire Beer Box.