WITH a range including Vixen, Guv’nor, Reveller and Aviator, it’s clear that names and packaging are important for Cotswold Spring Brewery.
But as the Codrington-based beer makers raise their glasses to their 1,000th brew, taste is still at the heart of this innovative local firm with blood, sweat and tears going into making every drop.
The story of how Cotswold Spring Brewery ever came to be is much like a tale you hear down the pub.
Two friends sat down with a pint and started discussing the what ifs of making their own beer and how wonderful it would be to create their own varieties from locally-sourced spring water.
But this pipe dream, the brainchild of businessmen Warren Bryant and John Warlock, would soon become a reality as in 2005 Cotswold Spring Water agreed to supply a new beer-making facility on the same site in Codrington. A simple building was soon erected, hops were ordered and brewing began.
“It started off from quite humble beginnings,” said managing director Mark Frankcom. “There were two directors, a brewer and a manager. It started from nothing and grew from the ground up.”
But with master brewer Nik Milo at the helm, freshly recruited from France after years working for leading companies in the industry, it would not be long until the brewery was the toast of the town winning its first award in the same year as launching.
It has gone on to be regarded as a craft brewery and won the Society of Independent Brewers’ supreme beer in 2011 and this year scooped two golds and two silvers in the same competition.
“What you get out at the end depends what you put in,” said Mark. “You don’t get anything for nothing and in some of our beers we have up to seven different grains to make it taste more complex.
“The market for real ale has changed – it is more innovative with younger people drinking it these days. We have had to respond to that and give people what they want so last year we went through a big rebranding exercise when we sat down and thought what we like brewing.
“We had a lot of fun doing it and are now very focussed on establishing our brand locally.”
Nik said: “Because it is a small brewery you have more freedom to do what you want, within reason, to create recipes. Working for a bigger commercial brewery they want a set recipe and you cannot deviate from that.
“Here all our beers are my own recipes and I can tweak them.”
Under the tag line brewery purely with character, the 11-strong collection of beers includes Vixen, described as brazenly warm, dark and cosy, a ‘buxom’ Stunner and firm favourite Codger, branded cantankerously crisp. The range appeals to a variety of customers and pints are on tap in local pubs including The Swan at Nibley, The Squire in Chipping Sodbury and the New Inn at Westerleigh as well as further afield across Gloucestershire, Bath and Bristol.
Cotswold Spring Brewery now produces five beers at any one time with three brewed all year round and two different varieties made each season.
And to celebrate a milestone 1,000th brew, an extra strong and flavoursome beer has been created called Walloonatic after a region in Belgium.
The name of the 8.5 per cent ale, which has been made from four different grains, was chosen by a panel of experts following a competition run in pubs stocked by the brewery and on Twitter. It was the idea of Marya and David Marriott, from Wroughton, who won supplies of the drink for themselves and their local pub the Carter’s Rest.
“From what started in a shed we are now a multi award-winning brewery responding to an evolving market,” added Mark. “We are still only a team of five but we are very proud to have reached our 1,000th brew and of all we have achieved.”