High hopes for brewery going global
The boss of an award winning vineyard that is building a new brewery in Ashford says it could become an international landmark for the town.
The Curious Brew Brewery is planned on a vacant site as part of the multi-million pound redevelopment of Victoria Way.
Mixed-use developer U+I will bring 216 new homes, a 120-bedroom hotel, an Aldi supermarket, a visitor centre and the brewery to the old Powergen site.
Construction of the brewery, on the corner of the site opposite Ashford International Station, will begin this summer in partnership with Canterburybased developer Quinn Estates and specialist private rented sector operator, Neighbour, followed by building the adjoining Aldi supermarket.
Fraser Thompson, chief executive of the Chapel Down vineyard in Smallhythe, near Tenterden which is building the brewery for its Curious Brew, the craft lager it produces alongside its wine and other beer.
Mr Thompson said: “Our winery in Tenterden is very important to us. People come and see it, they have a nice time, they buy the wine and they go home and talk about it.
“So it seemed to us that, rather than being out in the countryside, where you expect a winery to be, this was a great opportunity for us to be right in the centre of town and Ashford seemed like the perfect place.
“I am hugely ambitious for Curious Brew. It has real global potential and in future I want people all around the world to say, ‘Ashford, that’s where they make Curious Brew.’”
Mr Thompson noted Ashford’s good accessibility, adding: “Until a few years ago, opening a brewery in the centre of town might have been considered regressive. But beer has had a renaissance, so where better to put a brand new, modern brewery than at the heart of a regeneration project in a county known for its breweries and its hops?”
Mr Thompson spoke about the crowdfunding initiative that secured part of the finance for the £10m project, saying: “We wanted to give people a sense of ownership in the brewery and the beer. Fraser Thompson, chief executive of Chapel Down
“People could invest as little as £100 and we ended up raising £1.7 million. Not only was that a lot more than we expected but 35% of the people who invested came from Kent.
“This development is really going to change the town. We’ve actually had nothing but support for this project. But I guess it struck a chord, because beer just brings people together.”
The brewery will include a visi- tor centre, a restaurant, bar and brewery tours.
Site applicant HDD Ashford announced at a council meeting last year that it was estimated that the Victoria Way scheme could generate up to 210 jobs.
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Victoria Road, Ashford, where Chapel Down vineyard hopes the Curious Brew Brewery will be developed and, right, how the final plan could look
Victoria Road, the site for brewery
An artist’s impression of the The Curious Drinks beer and cider brewery