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
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.
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