High hopes for brew­ery go­ing global

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Curious Brew - By Molly Mile­ham-Chap­pell

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.

What do you think? Write to Ken­tish Ex­press, 34-36 North Street, Ash­ford, TN24 8JR or email ken­tish­ex­press@thek­m­group.co.uk

Vic­to­ria Road, Ash­ford, where Chapel Down vine­yard hopes the Cu­ri­ous Brew Brew­ery will be de­vel­oped and, right, how the fi­nal plan could look

Pic­ture: Gary Browne FM4206155

Vic­to­ria Road, the site for brew­ery

An artist’s im­pres­sion of the The Cu­ri­ous Drinks beer and cider brew­ery

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