Beer 230 - Stroud Brewery Tom Long (3.8%)
The original Stroud Brewery shut in 1969. Founded 1760 as Watts, Hallewell & Co, it merged with Cheltenham & Hereford Breweries Ltd in 1958 to form West Country Breweries. It was used as a Whitbread depot until 1969 and was finally demolished in 1970.
In 2004, Greg Pilley decided the time was right to change this. After getting his start in home brewing in the late eighties while at Swansea University, Greg spent the majority of the nineties in Nigeria. There he managed a Wildlife Conservation Project, with the Voluntary Services Overseas
On his return to Stroud, Greg got involved in Stroud Community Agriculture – a community-owned farming enterprise. He recounted to his local newspaper, “One day whilst weeding and chatting to my friend Andy we started to think about how good it would be if Stroud had its own brewery again. I became possessed and was determined to make it happen.”
Around Christmas 2005 they moved into their original premises; a neat little unit on the site of the former Phoenix Mill Foundries in Thrupp. His first brew, Budding; named after Edwin Beard Budding of Thrupp, Stroud, who invented the lawnmower in 1830, was named Champion Beer of Gloucestershire by Gloucestershire Campaign for Real Ales. Brewing was back in Stroud.
Last year Stroud Brewery was awarded a grant from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to invest in the expansion of the brewery. Their application was successful because he uses locally grown malting barley, supporting the local rural economy. With a further £65,000 investment from the brewery they were able to install a new setup with four times’ the current capacity. Complete with tasting room and a small bar, Stroud Brewery is going from strength to strength.
Thanks to Greg’s strong social commitment to the environment and quality of his products, this has helped the brewery to use only the finest, local ingredients. Their entire bottle range is organic and vegan. They use barley grown in an 11-mile radius from the brewery, which is then malted in the traditional way at Warminster Maltings without high energy use. They also brew the only draught organic beer in the county.
Their expansion shows they are on the march, looking to expand their sales and taking on more staff. Greg however prides himself on the fact that the Stroud Brewery team, “share an ethos of quality, care and great beer and this commitment is reflected in our products.” Wise words
Tonight’s beer took home Silver at the SIBA National Beer Competition and is named after Tom Long is named, a mythical highwayman hung at Tom Long’s Post on Minchinhampton Common, near Stroud. A nod to a character from Stroud’s past but will it steal away my heart?
Lightly amber in colour with thin foamy head, Tom Long sadly doesn’t come with an aroma-soaked hankie to chloroform his victims with. Mild malts and light hops are served up with caramel toffees and vanilla. It’s very subtle and would need a sniffer dog to detect anymore.
To taste, it’s sweet with a gentle stream of citrus hops flowing through it. It’s mildly spicy; think korma, not vindaloo. There’s some other mixed fruits, banana and berries and a taste of shortbread to it. Watery and a bit washed out, it’s very sedate for a beer named after a highwayman. Sadly, more a case of cease and desist, than stand and deliver.