Brew­ery biz is ale and hearty

Bucks has be­come an ex­cit­ing place for lovers of real ale, with a num­ber of small brew­eries pro­duc­ing top qual­ity beers across the area. Com­mu­nity ed­i­tor Mort Smith went to meet the peo­ple be­hind the Hares­foot mi­cro­brew­ery just across the Hert­ford­shire bo

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - LIFE & LEISURE -

IT’S amaz­ing what you can do when you have the right drive and imag­i­na­tion – it’s a trib­ute to the en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit for which this coun­try is rightly fa­mous. And when eight busi­ness­men who live in and around Berkham­sted got to­gether and de­cided to start up their own brew­ery, it was a good bet that noth­ing was go­ing to stand in their way.

The guys be­hind the Hares­foot Brew­ery first met up at a business net­work­ing meet­ing in the town and quickly dis­cov­ered that they got on well to­gether and had a common in­ter­est in real ale.

But it was no head­long dash into set­ting up a new business, be­cause they car­ried out some ex­ten­sive re­search into the whole business of run­ning a brew­ery along with vis­it­ing a large num­ber of pubs to talk to land­lords and land­ladies about the kind of prod­ucts that proved popular.

One of the part­ners, George Har­vey, who still runs his own re­cruit­ment company while Hares­foot es­tab­lishes it­self, says all seven of his co-direc­tors brought spe­cific skills to the party.

He said: “Nick Heath, for ex­am­ple, has worked in the prop­erty business for years and it was he who found us the premises in the River Park In­dus­trial Es­tate where we could set up the brew­ery.

“It was an old print­ing works and we had to do a heck of a lot of work to turn it into a brew­ery. We all put in money to help fund the con­ver­sion and to buy the brew­ing equip­ment – it was about £60,000 al­to­gether to kit it out – but we did it inside three months which was bril­liant.”

Fi­nan­cial di­rec­tor Si­mon Spurl­ing said that the team was de­ter­mined to give Hares­foot a lo­cal feel – some­thing that the peo­ple of the town could be proud of.

He added: “Hares­foot is the first brew­ery to op­er­ate in this town for more than 100 years and we were keen to make sure the peo­ple of the town and its sur­round­ing ar­eas could iden­tify with what we were do­ing.

“That’s why we’ve named our beers after things that could be eas­ily linked with the town – Lock­keep­ers’ Ale, Totem, Sun­dial, etc. It’s im­por­tant to make our prod­ucts feel part of the town.”

Cur­rently, Hares­foot Brew­ery is pro­duc­ing around 2,500 litres (that’s about 4,000 pints) each week and the brew­ery has quickly es­tab­lished an ex­cel­lent rep­u­ta­tion for the qual­ity of its prod­ucts.

Mr Spurl­ing said: “We want to con­sol­i­date a po­si­tion of be­ing a ma­jor sup­plier of good beer for Berkham­sted and an area of around 30 miles ra­dius of the town. After that, well, we’ll just have to see what hap­pens.”

The ale pro­duced by Hares­foot has clearly im­pressed a lot of our lo­cal pubs with 160 in all hav­ing bought ale from the new brew­ery.

Among pubs in our area that have of­fered Hares­foot are the White Hart in Whelp­ley Hill, the Queens Head in Che­sham, the Red Lion in Great Mis­senden, the Crown and the Swan in Ley Hill, the Ea­gle in Old Amer­sham and the Cross Keys in Great Mis­senden.

Now that the brew­ery is de­vel­op­ing nicely, the part­ners have re­cently opened a shop that sells bot­tles of the tra­di­tional ales, gift packs, fleeces, floppy-eared cud­dly hares and a range of other lo­cal pro­duce from the Berkham­sted area. It’s open from 4-8pm on Thurs­day, Fri­day and Satur­day evenings.

Ad­di­tion­ally, they run reg­u­lar brew­ery tours on most Thurs­days from 7.30-10.30pm. Th­ese cost £20 per per­son – but that in­cludes the tour, a curry plat­ter and com­pli­men­tary beers.

It would have been rude to refuse an of­fer to sam­ple the prod­ucts after tour­ing the brew­ery and take it from me, Hares­foot brews ex­cep­tion­ally good ale. Hey, it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it...

For more in­for­ma­tion about the brew­ery – or to book a tour – visit the web­site at www.hares­foot.co.uk.

Pho­tos by Mort Smith

From left: Si­mon Spurl­ing, Barry Glithero, Keith Holmes, Nick Heath and George Har­vey give the mash a stir, above, and, right, Harry the Hare keeps guard over a keg of the brew­ery’s real ale

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