Brewing comes back to town

PUBLISHED: 06:29 12 October 2015 | UPDATED: 06:29 12 October 2015

Harpenden is getting its first brewery for close to a century – and it’s one beer lovers can invest in. Farr Brew, launched by Nick Farr and Matt Elvidge, is seeking financial support from the new “crowdfunding” scheme that uses the internet.

The two, who have been friends for 20 years, are currently brewing part time on a farm at Kinsbourne Green. They need £19,500 to move into a bigger barn on the farm and buy a five-barrel brewing plant.

“Our aim is to bring brewing back to Harpenden,” Nick Farr says. The last brewery in the town, Glover & Co, closed 96 years ago after being taken over by the bigger Pryor Reed brewery in Hatfield.

“We’re researching the old recipes,” Nick adds. “We want to add value to the town.”

Nick and Matt met when Matt was working in the Old Fighting Cocks in St Albans and Nick drank there. Nick, the brewer, works in the construction industry while Matt, in charge of sales and publicity, is employed in recruitment.

Nick started out making wine but moved into beer. “I make beer I love to drink and I want people to like it, too,” he says. I came across them when they contacted me and asked for my views on the beers they were brewing. I never say no to a free beer and was delighted to taste their range.

It includes Too Pale & Interesting and Favourite IPA, both 3.9 per cent, Too Ginger, 4 per cent, made with the addition of root ginger, and Most Potent Porter, 4.4 per cent. I enjoyed them all, the dark porter in particular, and they have taken on board my view that the IPA should have a higher alcohol rating than 3.9 per cent. They have added a stronger beer called Hopenden (4.3 per cent) as part of their crowdfunding initiative. It’s delicious and is brewed with five times the hops of the other beers and as a result is expensive to make.

“But we’re not cutting corners on costs when it comes to raw materials,” Matt says. They use the finest malting barley, Maris Otter, and such prime English hops as East Kent Goldings.

At the moment they are restricted by size to making mainly bottled beers but they will develop draught beers if their crowdfunding is successful. They also produce customised beers: if you would like a beer brewed to your own specific taste and with your own personalised label, then Matt and Nick will be happy to help.

The fundraising campaign is being run by Kickstarter, a web-based company that specialises in helping small firms get off the ground. Matt and Nick explain that people who invest in Farr Brew will get rewards and gifts depending on the size of the investment. The rewards can include brewery tours, being brewer for the day and becoming an official beer taster.

“The more you give, the greater the involvement,” Nick says. “But we welcome any amount – even just £5.” They are visiting local fairs and farmers’ markets to spread the message and win support.

Far Brew beers are currently on sale in St Albans in the Beer Shop in London Road, Craft & Cleaver in Catherine Street, and Dylan@Kings Arms in George Street. Rollings wine shop and Jay’s deli in Harpenden stock the beers as does Harpers Food in Pepperstock, Luton.

The crowdfunding initiative runs until mid-October. For further information visit www.farrbrew.com.

If Farr Brew is successful then Nick plans to give up his current job and run the brewery full time. “But my wife does like having a wage coming in!” he laughs.

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