Founding The Brewery
The brewery was set up in Cheddars Lane, Cambridge in May 1997 by Steve Draper, with a 15-barrel a week capacity.
Steve has worked in the Brewing Industry for many years in sales and marketing with major players, starting with Bass in 1985 working his way to National Sales Manager with Eldridge Pope of Dorchester. With a passion for quality traditional beer he decided to set-up his own Brewery taking a year out to learn the art of brewing. He soon had success with the first beer, Hobson's Choice, winning the 1997 Cambridge Beer Festival with Gyle 1.
Hobson's Choice has gone onto win other awards and accolades, being the finalist at The Great British Beer Festival at Olympia in 1998 and in March 1999 it was awarded Bronze at the Beauty Of Hops Competition in the Higher Alpha Category. Other beers soon followed Hobson's Choice, to the point where we now brew four main beers and a variety of seasonal beers.
The Brewery moved into bottling in 1997 with a special commission for Gowlett Grain, leading agents at the time for Maris Otter malting barley. Since then bottling has been extended to include most of the range, and also the occasional special such as XK50 in 1998 to celebrate 50 years of the XK range of Jaguar cars.
The Big Move
In October 2001 the Cheddars Lane site was closed in favour of new premises in Chittering, where there is plenty of room to expand to meet demand. During the process of moving and setting up the new brewery, Mighty Oak Brewing Co. were contracted to brew Hobson's Choice and Boathouse Bitter, so as not to disappoint our loyal customers.
The new site needed much work which included removing 13 skips worth of rubbish, converting a garage into an office and a derelict fruit and veg shed into a brewery.
A problem was discovered when it was found that the new site had no mains drainage. An effluent plant would have cost £50,000 plus and was also an eyesore, so after much research it was decided to use an environment friendly reed bed system to cope with the brewery waste.
This idea won the brewery 'Most Innovative Approach' in the 2002 Waste Challenge, before a single reed had been planted. Now up and running the reeds filter out pollutants through a series of beds, the first holding reeds then into a second which holds marsh plants then into a third pond, which is where the 'now clean' water soaks into the earth.
The third pond also makes an ideal home for many types of wildlife, from Dragonflies to ducks, giving us our own personal nature reserve just behind the barns.
Growing the Business
At the end of 2010 we took the big decision to partner with Elgoods Brewery in Cambridgeshire to brew and bottle our beers. The main reason for this was to expand the capacity of the business to meet the growing demand for our products. The infrastructure on our current site did not suit expansion but we wanted to keep a presence there. With our passion for quality we have found a brewing partner which shares our values and has the capacity and infrastructure to support us.