First community-owned brewery opens in East of England

The Pumphouse Community Brewery in Toppesfield, Essex, celebrated its official opening on Friday, 23 October.  Established earlier this year as a community benefit society, the brewery is entirely owned by...

The Pumphouse Community Brewery in Toppesfield, Essex, celebrated its official opening on Friday, 23 October. 

Established earlier this year as a community benefit society, the brewery is entirely owned by the community as a co-operative.

The 73 members raised £21,000 through a community share offer, with additional funding from grants by Braintree District Council’s Mi community fund (£10,000), The Alan & Babette Sainsbury Family Trust (£4,000) and the Yellow Car Charitable Fund, administered by the Essex Community Foundation (£3,000).

The funds were used to purchase equipment and transform an unused cart lodge into a modern three-barrel craft brewery.

“Pumphouse will produce a small range of regular beers and occasional ‘special event’ beers,” said Alan Collard, chair of the brewery.

The first bottling session. (Photograph: Pumphouse Community Brewery)
The first bottling session. (Photograph: Pumphouse Community Brewery)

“Our brewer, Phil Snowdon, previously ran the Dropping Well Brewery at the Three Horseshoes in Helions Bumpstead and his philosophy is all about producing traditional styled English ales using good quality ingredients.”

Pumphouse is the first community-owned brewery to open in the East of England, and the third in the country.

It is also the third community-owned enterprise to open in Toppesfield. In 2001, residents saved their village shop and, in 2012, they made their local, the Green Man, the 14th co-operative pub in the UK.

Most of the Pumphouse’s beer will be sold primarily to the Green Man, as well as other local outlets.

“It’s fantastic to see this community adding yet another community-owned enterprise to their village,” said Peter Couchman, chief executive of Plunkett Foundation, which supported the project.

“The brewery will supply the pub with traditional, truly local ales, and provide employment and volunteering opportunities for local people. It’ll also bring fantastic additional benefits, too, by attracting people from further afield who will also support the village shop and local pub, and discover that a pint really does taste better when it’s a co-operative one!”

Pumphouse’s first brews include:

Pumphouse Bitter/Toppesfield Tap. 3.6% ABV – “Easy-drinking session ale brewed from English Maris Otter malted barley. Amber in colour, it has a clean maltiness and moderate bitterness that is balanced with a distinctive hoppy aroma from a combination of UK-grown Pilgrim and Pioneer hops. Toppesfield tap is available on draught only from the Green Man in Toppesfield.”

Pumphouse Gold. 4.2% ABV – “Pumphouse Gold is brewed from English Maris Otter pale malt blended with lightly kilned Munich malt from Germany. It has a deep golden colour with a biscuit-like maltiness offset by the rounded citrus/lychee aromas and lingering bitter finish that result from a generous helping of UK-grown Cascade hops.”

Pumphouse Black. 4.0% ABV – “Smooth and smoky, black and toasty, with a subtle but distinct bitterness, the complex flavours that derive from the combination of roasted barley with chocolate malt form the backbone of this stout. Surprisingly easy to drink, black is the new blonde for winter!”

19 Elms. 4.3% ABV – “This dark amber ale has been brewed especially to mark the planting of 19 elm trees in Toppesfield in memory of the 19 young men of the village who gave their lives during the First World War. 19 Elms is a strong, robust ale brewed from the finest English ingredients. It will be available as a limited-edition bottled ale and exclusively on draught in the Green Man on the weekend of Remembrance Sunday 2015.”

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