Published on April 2, 2019 | by Alastair Gilmour0
The hills are alive
A building once used as a slaughterhouse, for kennelling trail hounds, fixing cars and building rabbit hutches has a new lease of life. Cheviot Brewery has been operating from an attractively whitewashed building on the Ford & Etal estate in Northumberland for the past nine months.
It’s a gestation period that has seen it leap from brewhouse installation to highly visible bar counter significance through attention to detail and quality products.
The Cheviot team is Pete Nash and Jonny Hodgson – respectively director of sales and director of ales – plus Neil Baker, an extremely talented artist and designer (the day-job) who created Cheviot’s distinctive branding and imagery. The brewing plant came from Goose Eye Brewery in Keighley, West Yorkshire. Pete and Jonny – originally from Bradford – had been to a beer festival there and discovered by chance that the business was expanding and that the seven-barrel kit was for sale. They bought it.
“We’d been planning for nearly three years before taking the plunge,” says Pete. “We had been to the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona in 2015 and were sitting in a brewery tap talking about our passion for beer. So you might say beer festivals and brewery taps are dangerous places.”
The plant is a rather handsome beast, particularly as it’s been fitted to retain most of Goose Eye’s Victorian-style gravity drop process (top to bottom with little in the way of horizontal pumping), making the best use of the space available.
Jonny says: “Goose Eye have been brilliant, giving us great advice from their 30 years in brewing and telling us how they themselves would do it if they were starting again. We made a 3D model of the brewhouse so as we knew where everything was going to be.”
With an emphasis on local produce and supply, Cheviot uses only Simpson’s malt, wheat milled at Heatherslaw Mill, and almost exclusively English hops, save for a small amount from the US and Slovenia.
“Simpson’s is only just up the road at Berwick,” says Pete. “The barley and wheat is grown all around here and it was always part of the plan to be as local as possible. The Curfew in Berwick really likes our Holy Bounty Oyster Stout; it got great reviews at one of their beer festivals – and as we’re all about collaborating with the local community we got talking to Lindisfarne Oysters about using their oysters.”
Barmoor Castle Country Park and Bear Claw Brewery have also been tremendous with their support and advice. The locally-fitted brewery pipework is, according to Pete, ”a thing of beauty”. In the other direction, spent grain goes off to the neighbouring Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre.
Pete says: “We now brew up to twice a week, depending on demand. Some weeks we’ve done three brews but it’s settled down nicely.”
Prominent in the brewery is a monster of a heat exchanger, four fermenters and a cold store stacked with full casks and a spare fermenting vessel which will undoubtedly come in handy.
“At first we thought, we’ll never fill all this,” says Pete. “Famous last words.”