Craft breweries are opening up all over the UK. Each have their own story to tell but we are pretty sure that none are quite like ours.
Greg Pilley will tell you himself that he has always had a disproportionate interest in beer, stemming from an expatriate childhood where social drinking was often the catalyst of community building in the newly constructed and remote engineers ‘villages’ where he grew up in Argentina, Iran and Jordan.
Greg studied Marine Biology (and drank a lot of beer) at Swansea University. After graduating he worked for various conservation organisations in the UK and overseas. After 2 years VSO, as Project Manager for a conservation project in Nigeria, Greg travelled for two years researching the traditional alcoholic beverages of Africa - how they were produced and the social context they were drunk in. This was with some support from Guinness Brewing Worldwide, and subsidised by the updating of sections of the Rough Guide to Africa. Returning to the UK, Greg settled in Bristol and began working for the Soil Association, principally as project Co-ordinator for the Cultivating Communities project. Working for the Soil Association developed Greg’s interest in the importance of organic.
Greg’s interest in sustainable development, community creation and beer came together. He had a vision to develop a thriving, dynamic and resilient enterprise, recognised for its ethos of sustainability and producing a nationally respected range of cask ales and organic bottled beers.
With a family on the way Greg and his partner Jade decided to leave Bristol and find somewhere lovely to raise a family and set up an organic brewery.
Stroud Brewery was established in 2006. Just 2 months later, its launching brew, Budding, was awarded Champion Beer of Gloucestershire at the Cotswold Beer Festival and it remains our most popular beer. The business has grown steadily and now employs over 20 people. Find out a bit more about our team.
To our surprise, Stroud Brewery outgrew the original site in all areas: the brewery, office and tap. We could never have imagined this 6 years ago.
We recently constructed a brand new building on a disused car park just 100 metres away, purpose built for our growing needs. It provides more space for the brewery, allowing an increase in our production capacity, a larger office and a canal-side tap with beautiful views of the Golden Valley. It's an exciting time for us.
We have created a range of organic beers that we are really proud of, because they taste great and their production supports the local farmers and the ecosystems they manage. The standards we must adhere to for organic certification support our ambition to be a business that cares for people and planet.
We are mindful of our environmental impact and take steps to be sustainable wherever possible. We prefer to use craft and small scale suppliers. Our biggest raw ingredient is malt, which we buy from Warminster Maltings, a traditional small craft maltster. Spent grain is fed to local and organic cattle, including pigs and cows at Stroud Community Agriculture. Our spent hops go for compost. Some of our packaging goes to the Scrapstore for schools to use. And our beer bottles are lightweight, about 30% lighter than a standard beer bottle saving on glass and transport weight. All things that you would probably expect from a dedicated brewery, but there is even more to us than that.
Community has always been central to Greg’s vision for Stroud Brewery. We make every effort to help and engage our community where possible. The way in which our business, and in particular the Stroud Brewery Tap, has brought our community together is what motivates us the most.
The Stroud Brewery Tap is open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night and is one of the top destinations for a night out in Stroud. It’s a welcoming and friendly place that brings people together. Plenty of new friendships have been created over a pint or two of Budding on shared tables. We have an organic and local food policy, championing local suppliers.
One of our most popular initiatives is the Community Hop Club that grow hops in their own gardens and allotments to contribute to our green hop beer, Brewer’s Garden.
We are pleased to help local charities by supplying discounted beer and raffle prizes for their fundraising events and we hold monthly charity fundraisers. We welcome community groups to use our premises for meetings.
Every year we work with our local community to make Brewer’s Garden, a harvest celebration ale, brewed with fresh Fuggles and Goldings Cobb hops which are grown in local gardens and allotments.
Every spring we pot up hop plants and anyone can come to the Brewery and collect one to plant to nurture. The bines are harvested in September and members congregate at the brewery to hand pick the cones and enjoy a few ales. Growers who spend the day picking receive 5lts of Brewer’s Garden for their efforts.
In a good year, we make around 5000 pints of ‘Brewer’s Garden’. Casks are eagerly awaited by local pubs and it is often one of our fastest selling beers.
“Having a green hop beer is quite special. We make it once a year because it tastes so good. We could buy green hops from a commercial grower, but it’s a great way to get people involved with the brewery and a great community activity, a highlight of my year.” explains brewery boss, Greg Pilley.
Fancy earning yourself 5lts of delicious Brewer’s Garden? Email us to get involved