Sunday, 2 January 2011

Grand Designs – Birth of a Micro IV

Over the past months we have been working on creating a new purpose built brewery in North Oxfordshire and telling the story of its development in these updates. One of the big pieces of this adventure in beer was to find a suitable location for the business and after a lot of behind the scenes work we can finally reveal where we hope that will be.

The site is on the edge of the village of Lower Heyford. It is on a former goods yard next to the canal at the wharf and directly adjacent to the Heyford railway station. The brewery will be accessible by: canal boat, Great Western trains direct from Oxford or Banbury, on foot or bike from the tow path, and there is parking for those preferring to drive. We want the brewery to become a craft business within the local community and a part of the other great attractions in Heyford. The Bell pub in the village which is already a venue for expertly kept ales, will also host our beers. The wharf is a place, where holiday makers set off on their canal boat adventures or just come to enjoy the walks along the canal and Cherwell Valley or to the nearby Rousham House. We hope to become a part of this cluster of tourist attractions and add a regional flavour in beer.

However before we can start work on the new building there is the not-insignificant matter of planning permission. After compiling all the many and varied sections of the application for our new building, this huge document was submitted early in October and hopefully by the time you read this, Cherwell Council will have made a decision on our proposal.

You can see from the architect drawing what our future home will look like. It is a barn style building to match its rural setting. The building will house the brewing equipment and a shop / visitor centre with a small meeting room above. The shop will be right in the middle of the building with glazed walls so you can view all the stages in the life cycle of the beers. The shop will develop over time with insights into how beer is made from raw ingredients through to the wonderful finished product, as well as selling our fresh ales direct.

It is important that the building and business respect the area and environment in which they will be built. The site is a brown-field, former goods yard with an industrial heritage which will be sensitively landscaped to enhance the appearance of the location. The building is designed to sit with the rural landscape and is screened by trees, and it is clad in wood. The innovative materials used during the construction will minimise environmental impact and reduce emissions when it is in use. In the operation of the brewery we will use harvested rainwater where possible for cleaning and will process some of the waste water in a bio-digester. We will recycle heat energy generated in the brew process, send used raw materials to agricultural uses and hope to generate no waste that would otherwise go to land fill.

There is still a long way to go, lots to learn about the brewing process and developing our business and of course not least is the actual build which we hope to start in the new year. Until the next update happy drinking!