I was greeted by (from left to right) Andrew Morris – Head of Sales & Logistics, Nigel Beecroft – Head Brewer, Colin Marlow – Co-owner / Licensee and Glyn Preece – Co-owner /Accountant. They told me that the current brewery has only been established for just over a year, although Ostlers had been brewing occasional beers on site for several years. The current upturn started back in January 2016 after a conversation that Nigel had with Andrew about his desire to start brewing on a slightly larger than home-brew scale. Nigel, who works in the Railway Industry, has a previous history in Industrial Chemistry, and had home-brewed whilst at University. The day after the initial conversation they both decided to go halfsies on a small Braumeister system and promptly started brewing in Andrew’s garage.
After a couple of months brewing, the two were producing some pretty good-tasting brews. Nigel had been a local in the White Horse for some time and decided to speak to Colin and Glynn to ask if they would take the odd cask or two, only to discover that they had a small nano-brew system in an abandoned kitchen out amongst the deep fat fryers. They all concurred that they could work together with Nigel and Andrew brewing in the kitchen. The original Brewmaster system installed in the pub was not designed for all grain brewing so Nigel and Andrew brought in their own Braumeister and quickly added a bigger version.
After telling me of their origins, the team then led me out back to where all of the magic happens! To be fair they had warned me that it was cramped but what I witnessed was a 4.5 barrel kit inside what can only be described as a small submarine cabin… I mean IT WAS TIGHT! Packed out with boxes of crisps and chocolate bars, they brew most Saturday’s on the now bigger microbrewery which they clubbed together and bought back in May. They upscaled all of their recipes used in the Braumeister. Brew 1 and 2 on the new kit has sold out, brew 3 is nearly gone and the team are now on brew four, finding more demand with most of the 13 cask brew pre-ordered.
Nigel and Andrew’s friends find what they do in their spare time pretty cool and regularly like to sample Ostler’s brews. Ostlers now have two main recipes, Tub Thumper 5.2% abv and Thouroughbred 5.5% abv. Both are IPA’s which use American hops and the brewery as a whole do not use finings so all of their brews are vegan friendly! Nigel’s wife is also French and they have connections in Lille, so quite a few of his experimental brews have a Northern French/Belgium influence, I also got to try a beautiful Saison that he had crafted.The guys are now brewing 500 litres every few weeks, with homebrew-style fermentation vessels stacked up to the brim. Nigel just lives round the corner, so it’s easy for him to check up on what’s going on (brew-wise), perhaps finding time for a cheeky pint too!
After a chat the guys treated me to a “preview” of their Mild Chilli IPA which is destined for CAMRA Birmingham Beer Festival in October. It’s a real cracker of an IPA with a bit of a kick and a warm to the belly. The more and more I drank, the more intense it became but not too overpowering. The lads also gave me a try of the “HOT” version (which is reserved for their own personal consumption)… That blew my head off!
So all in all, it was fantastic to meet the Ostler’s team and I cannot wait to see what’s next for this promising project!