A CAM brewer had an unwelcome Valentine’s surprise when high winds blew off half the roof of his brewery.

The gale hit Severn Vale Brewing Company on Friday night, lifting corrugated iron sheets clean from the roof which had previously stood fast for 45 years.

The alarm was raised around 7.30pm when neighbours spotted the dramatic damage to the former dairy building on Woodend Lane.

Business owner Steve McDonald and his landlord Nick Lea rushed back from Birmingham and the Forest of Dean respectively to assess the storm damage.

“The panels had just peeled off,” explained Mr McDonald. “We managed to get most of the raw materials out of the way before the rain got too heavy, although a bit more damage was done in the night."

Hops and malts essential to the brewing process are stored on the first floor of the building, where the absent roof panels left the hub of the brewery completely exposed to the elements.

Mr McDonald, 59, has run the real ale firm for nine years and the building has survived decades of winters.

“The amazing thing was the weight of the stuff that came off,” he said. "A 12ft-long wooden wall plate flew off and landed on the roof of the barn opposite.

“It was a big piece of wood with nails sticking out of it. It was amazing that no one was hurt.”

Family and friends banded together on Saturday to raise a giant sheet of tarpaulin over the two-storey building to temporarily protect the building until the insurers cover the cost of replacing the roof.

The white sheeting is tied down to gates and weighted barrels, but would be unlikely to withstand another night of gusty winds.

The brewer praised his landlord for his sterling efforts in securing the building, saying: “Hero of the day was farmer Nick, who battled his way back the Forest of Dean, trying to find a road out that wasn't blocked by fallen trees or power lines, to supervise the erection of the tarpaulin."

Despite the upheaval, it is firmly business as usual with a new batch of Dursley Steam Bitter being brewed this week.

The five-barrel plant has the capacity to brew three times a week, which equates to 5,000 pints of Gloucestershire beer.