Treading Lightly on this Earth
Our brewery philosophy and longstanding choice of way to live. For us, not some new jumping on a marketing bandwagon, but an older and better informed expression of deeply held convictions formed in both of our childhoods. Now channelled into beer!
Powered by Sunshine
Photovoltaics on the brewery roof generate the same amount of electricity over the year that the brewery uses, so no carbon footprint there. We keep our energy usage to a minimum with our simple no fuss brewing system, and anything feasible to do by hand, we do. It’s manpower only for loading grain into the mash tun and clearing it out again, for bottling (with a bit of help from gravity!), capping and labelling, and for shifting boxes of bottles around. And of course, no power hungry machinery for hop picking either – just cake and the odd beer or 2 to fuel the hop pickers….
No Chemical Nasties
There are no added Sulphates or Sulphites, the stuff of intolerances and headaches, either added to our beer or used at any stage in our brewing and bottling process. We don’t do the “normal brewing practice” of treating the water with any chemicals, including sulphur based ones, beforehand. Neither do we use any sulphur based compounds to sterilise our bottles.
Breweries generally use a lot of water, mostly for cleaning, and also for neutralising and diluting the cleaning and sterilising chemicals used (like caustic soda) to a point acceptable to be discarded into the sewerage system.
No caustic soda for us, which means our water usage is a fraction of that of most other breweries. All of the cleaners and sterilisers that we do use break down harmlessly in the soil of our soakaway to carbon, oxygen and water, carried there with our waste water that then supports the wildlife haven hedgerow next to it.
No avoiding the delivery of supplies, but we do the best we can. We use the nearest available Maltings in Cirencester, and the grain we buy from them is all West Country in origin. The small proportion of hops that we have to buy to supplement our own come from the nearest hop growing area, Worcestershire, and although doing so restricts the varieties that we can brew with, we choose not to buy any in from further away or overseas.
And though carbon offsetting is not really the answer we have planted over 100 tress on our land including some that are coppiced, and these, together with our dense tall hedgerows and our 3 acres of permenant pasture, are estimated to absorb over 10 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.
Caretakers of our Land
We still grow our hops and manage our smallholding in exactly the same way that we did when we were certified Organic. Organics is not really about what you don’t do, the carbon hungry chemical fertilizers, and the collaterally damaging pesticides, herbicides and fungicides (common to hop growing) that you don’t use, it’s about what you do do.
The way that you work with the land that you care for to promote the best microclimate and natural soil fertility. The natural and sustainable increasing of plant resilience, and reduction of the chances of disease and pest attack. The development and maintenance of refuges for building up pest predator species, be they sloe worms, beetles, lace wings, blue tits or ladybirds.
The spent hops and grain from the brewery, and all of our waste card packaging are composted to provide a rich feed for our hops the following year – and as an added bonus, a great source of worms for our multitudes of baby birds! Along with our own compost, we use chicken manure and homemade nettle and comfrey feed, and grow clover to enhance the soil fertility, and we don’t overfeed and over work each hop plant to reduce immune supressing stress. We grow on wide spacing to maintain gentle airflow to reduce fungal attack, and we don’t monocrop, which provides a perfect environment for pest and disease build up. And sure enough, when the hop aphids appear with the warm summer days, the ladybirds, hoverflies and lacewings are not far behind.
And most important of all are our wonderful dense, wide, species rich hedgerows which not only provide refuges for those precious predators, but also create the best possible growing environment by reducing damaging, drying winds, maintaining gentle soil and air moisture levels and by providing rich hummus for the soil. Our smallholding as a whole is managed to encourage a high and diverse insect population, with many flowering hedgerow plants, wildflowers and grass cut to different heights at specific times of year. We were proud to record 17 different species of butterflies again this summer – and 12 is considered really good!