Wednesday, 7 July 2010

What a difference a pump makes!

Can you imagine? This was the old Culverden Brewery, owned by E&H Kelsey, just off the St Johns Road in TW. Right behind the 2 petrol stations just opposite the church stood this magnificent tower brewery. A brewery stood on this site for approximately 230 years. This building was eventually closed and demolished in the early 1960's to be replaced with a telephone exchange.

Before there were electric pumps to move liquids around more easily the brewers of yesteryear just used gravity. Tower breweries were the norm so that the process started at the top with water and flowed down the building before eventually leaving the ground floor as beautiful beer.

A brewery like this would have been almost totally self sufficient with a maltings on site, coopers to make the barrels. E&H Kelsey Brewers also owned upward of 100 pubs locally.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Hello and welcome

The Royal Tunbridge Wells Brewing Company (RTW Brewing Co. - for short(er)) is glad to welcome you to our blog. We know that we have one of the longest company names going. Shortening the name to just initials however has the unfortunate consequence of turning us into the local borough council so the official version is as above.
Using the full company name is really important to us as it links us back to the original company of the same name that operated in the town in the early 1980's. Much of what was achieved then drives what we are doing now.
Our plans for the brewery are fairly simple in the short term. Brew great beer, be local and care about what we do. As we grow we want to try new things out and bring some interest back into the local beer market. It is an amazing time in the brewing community at the moment. There are more breweries in the UK now than at any time since WWII. The variety and depth of styles and choices are astounding. Just in Kent in the last two years at least 5 new microbreweries have set up. This must be good for beer drinkers and I can only encourage you to look out for these new beers in pubs and shops and anywhere else.

RTW Brewing Co.

RTW Brewing Co.:
The Brewery has now been fully operational for 8 weeks now and complete with trial brews we have mashed in 9 times so far. The brewing has focussed on two beers with Royal Best Bitter and Sovereign Blonde being our badged beers. In the background the jobs have been all about getting the set up of the unit right. Office, Storage, Wet Areas, Cold Room, Lab space have all been as good as finished now. The key job for us know is to get out and see potential customers.

But before that it would be nice to outline how we got here. This has not just been thrown together you know!

The Royal Tunbridge Wells Brewing Company is a reincarnation of a business set up in the early 1980's and located in Grange Road in Rusthall. Ian Dormon was the owner and brewer. By pure coincidence during the summer of 2009 I was doind some work for a client when I was introduced to the guys down at the Forum and the Ragged Trousers. Conversations led to the fact that I was researching the set up of a microbrewery. Little did I know but Jason one of the owners was in fact Ian's son. All this of course led to a meeting with Ian and the chance to find out more about the old company as well as outline the plans for the new business.

That was last summer. Since then a ton of planning has gone into getting the brewery set up. I have spent time with numerous brewers across the country. All the way through the journey I have taken on board advice, learnings and general principles, 3 stood out; buy good equipment, spend money on getting a good floor (yeast will eat anything less than bullet proof concrete), buy as big a capacity as you can afford, I went for a 10 barrel brewlength.

The brew kit itself came from a company called ABUK. It is probably about 35 years old (now reconditioned). It was most recently used at Acorn Brewery in Barnsley (brewing award winning beer). Originally it was a Firkin Brewery, you can still see the name Dobbin on the side of the Hopper (or Grist Case). Brendan Dobbin is one of the brewing scenes legendary brewers and installers. On it's own it is a lovely bit of history, with it's new pannelling it looks almost as good as the day it was built.

During this time of planning, while talking to Ian about what I call the old days - the 80's, it started muy curiousity in the history of breing in RTW. I live up in St Johns and it is only around the corner that the impressive Culverden Brewery used to be located.