Our 10-barrel plant in E10 is the result of a great deal of thought and a fair whack of hard graft. We started thinking about it all seriously as we were expecting our second child; Stu was increasingly disenchanted after 20 years as an industrial chemist and Claire was contemplating several months of maternity leave. There’s nothing like the sleep-deprived insanity of a new baby to warp one’s better judgement and by February 2011, we had made the leap, had no jobs between us, a two-year old, a four-month old and – as if that weren’t enough – an embryonic micro-brewery.
Six months later, we brewed our first batch of ELB Pale Ale, and three days after that, Foundation Bitter, both for cask.
Over the course of 2012 and 2013, four new beers: Nightwatchman, a darker bitter; Jamboree, a golden ale made with all-English hops; Quadrant, as silky-smooth Oatmeal Stout; and Orchid, a vanilla-flavoured mild arrived on the scene. In the summer of 2012, we also began hand-bottling the beers in-house.
The arrival of our first, second and then third employee were major landmarks, as was our expansion in May 2013 into the next door unit, giving us space for a fourth and fifth fermenter and a brand new cold room. In 2014, we’ve launched a new beer in cask — Cowcatcher, an American Pale Ale — which we will also be bottling imminently. Do watch out for it, as well as for our ever-changing specials.
Of course, we couldn’t have done all this without the help, support and expert advice of a whole range of people. In addition to our long-suffering families, we’re especially indebted to CAMRA (ELAC Branch) and have been blown away by the generosity of the microbrewing community, who have welcomed us as new contributors to the art, held our hands and put up with a lot of stupid questions.
Quitting the day job is never easy, but we’re ever-more convinced that it’s worth it.