Raising a glass to a microbrewery boom

Farm Yard Ales

Farm Yard Ales

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Craft beer makers are full of cheer as new figures reveal the industry is booming.

Last year the number of breweries across the UK hit an 80-year high, with 336 new producers opening their doors.

Steven Holmes at Moss Edge Farm, Cockerham, where he has his microbrewery

Steven Holmes at Moss Edge Farm, Cockerham, where he has his microbrewery

A study by accountancy group UHY Hacker Young revealed that in London alone 36 new microbreweries were set up, with a further 249 opening across the rest of England.

James Simmonds, partner at UHY Hacker Young said: “Craft beer has quickly become the drink of choice for pub-goers.

“Because craft beer is viewed as a luxury good, customers are prepared to pay a higher price in comparison to other more commercially branded beers. The popularity of craft beer has spread from its core followers in the “hipster” areas of Shoreditch and Hackney across the capital and the rest of the UK.”

A separate survey has also found the number of new beer brands has soared to an all-time high of 1,666 in the past 12 months.

Law firm RPC’s study found the proliferation of new microbreweries plus largescale producers launching their own competing “artisan” brands had helped drive up the number of registered trademarks by 12 per cent

Brewing beer started as a hobby for Steven Holmes, but as he realised he needed another income to supplement his work at his parent’s farm, it has now become much more.

The 28-year-old is in the process of setting up Farm Yard Ales, in Moss Edge Farm, Cockerham, which will be fully operational early next year.

Steven secured a grant through Rural Development Programme for England LEADER Funding, aimed at diversifying the agricultural industry.

He was also selected by Land Rover and The Prince’s Countryside Fund to win their 2016 bursary, which offers a year’s loan of a Land Rover Discovery Sport vehicle to support young people in the development of their countryside careers.

Steve said: “I started brewing in a little shed as a hobby and I thought it would make a viable business, turning the farm into a different direction and secure the future of farming for the future generation.

“I have been using a home brewing kit, making 25 litres at a time, perfecting recipes and creating samples for people to try.

“I give away these tasters to people in the village and it has received some really good feedback.

“People say they like it, which is great.

“From the back of this I have already got a few orders from local pubs.

“I have had a lot of support from the village, especially in terms of my planning application.

“The micro-brewery is not fully set up yet. I have a Facebook and Instagram page and the building has been set up.

“I am hoping for our first production to be in January or February.

“It would have been better to be up and running for Christmas but I have had some delays.

“It is just me running the business, and my fiancee Janet Towers helps out with admin.”

Steven, who is also a freelance wagon driver, admits he is not surprised there is an upsurge in micro-breweries.

He said: “People’s tastes are changing and they are wanting a wider variety of beer.

“People can go out and try new flavours that are out there. Giving people a choice is key.

“It is quite easy to make the beer once you get the right key ingredients. The hardest part is selling it.”