Sunday, 14 August 2011

The X Factor – Birth of a Micro part VII

Over the past few months I have been sharing with you the ups and downs of starting our new micro brewery in North Oxfordshire. There’s now a slight twist to that story; whilst various processes and formalities are still being worked out at Lower Heyford we have been working on an alternative site.

We have taken on the lease of a farm building on the Notley Estate near Thame. The brewing vessels are now being fabricated in Burton on Trent to our designs and we are preparing the brewery building ready for their installation. The process should take a couple of months and we hope to be brewing by the end of October this year. In addition to the equipment we have also ordered lots of lovely casks and are having them painted in our brewery colours of purple and orange. Next time you see some casks outside a pub note the brewery specific colour banding that they all have painted on them.

So what are we calling the new brewery? We have decided to go for a slightly different name and approach than most and will call the brewery: The XT Brewing Company.

So what’s with the funny name, XT? Well, in today’s directory of brewers there is an obvious empty space between W and Y. Traditionally X was the standard method of naming beers; brewers simply added more Xs as the beer got stronger, and T signified the best ale kept back for the boss’s own table. There is a strong link to tradition but it also has a modern ring to it.

A man and a woman walk into a pub.... how do they choose which beers to drink? How do you squish all the relevant information onto one little pump clip? What do I, and most other beer drinkers, want to learn about each beer in order to help make that all important decision about which one to try? Our labels will seem a bit different when you first see them, but we hope they will answer those questions.

The brewery will have capacity to produce about 5000 pints per batch. The recipes will be based on our numerous trial brews and we hope to bring you a range including refreshing session ales and some rather more adventurous styles. There will be a small and very informal shop attached to the brewery for sales of mini casks, bottles and growlers. We also hope to run a few open days and mini beer festivals on the site.

With the brewery being on a farm we will endeavour to make the brewing process as environmentally friendly as possible. The local cattle are looking forward to sampling our spent grains and we will compost all the used hops. The casks are, of course, refilled so we should generate very little packaging waste as well. Brewing is an excellent example of how to reduce waste and recycle.

There is still a lot to be done before we can mash-in for the first time. We hope you will follow our progress as we dig drains (yes, more glamour), untangle red tape and refurbish our old farm building into a working brewery later this year.

You can follow our progress on Facebook, look for: XTBrewing.

Happy Drinking! Russ and Gareth,