We were greeted by Paul and Heike Herbert and once inside were able to choose from three cask ales, at a very reasonable price.
Once everyone had a beer, Paul gave the group an introductory talk in the office area of the brewery. Paul and Heike both had a background in archaeology. Paul moved into new media technologies and developed an interest in beer. He was introduced to American beer styles at the Draft House, Northcote Road, Clapham. Paul went on to visit some breweries in the USA and attended Brewlab at the University of Sunderland in 2009. The idea for Kent Brewery came from a chance meeting between Paul and Toby Simmonds at Paul's local pub, the Bull at Horton Kirby. Toby had been brewing with Dark Star in Sussex for three years and wanted his own microbrewery. With Toby's brewing experience and Paul's broad business experience they had the right basis for a successful brewery partnership.
Paul explained that the brewery started in 2010, originally brewing at Larkins in Chiddingstone but switching to Birling in April 2011. Paul is keen to see new hops developed in Kent and would also like to see more hops grown near the brewery. Asked about the use of American hops in Session Pale, he said that hops producing similar citrus flavours could be produced in Kent. He warned that simply growing Cascade hops in the UK would not give the same flavours.
After a chance to refill empty glasses, Paul would talk about technical aspects of brewing and answer more questions from the main area of the brewery.
Paul told us that the main brewing vessels are based on a 10 barrel plant size. However, a possible expansion to 15 barrel plant size could happen in the future as the Mash Tun is big enough already and space will be found to squeeze in two new 15 barrel fermenters within weeks of our visit. Other plans include new label designs and bottling beers.
Asked about water supplies, Paul said mains water is currently used for brewing.
The brewery delivers to Kent, East Sussex and East London with beer wholesalers distributing their beer further afield.
Paul mentioned that all of the brewery's 1500 casks are plastic. He said they went for the 'most ghastly' colour scheme to reduce the risk of theft! Their casks are made by Brewery Plastics Ltd of Hereford (formerly CypherCo). Only three of their casks have gone out of circulation due to damage in five years.Nevill Bull pub in Birling.
|Melissa, Joy, Allan and Nick|
Kent Brewery website: www.kentbrewery.com