Hello! Welcome to this brief introduction to our latest project, the Farm to Glass
Series. It’s our first foray into a subject that we hope will come to define a great deal
of what we are about as a brewery. As such, here is my attempt to explain how and
As we approach our 10th year trading in the madness that has been the UK craft beer
scene, we have naturally spent time reflecting on where that has brought us to and
where we want to go in future. In the past, we have always looked to the wider craft
beer community for inspiration, be it collabs with other breweries or gazing in awe at
the latest releases from American rockstar names. This has been hugely valuable
and insightful, and we’ve learnt loads. That said, as the industry has developed and
the envelope of creativity has been further pushed, we have found this starting to
show diminishing returns.
Being Cumbrian is something that is hugely important personally to most of our
team. We love it here and treasure the opportunity to live and work in such an
amazing place. For many of us, it defines our identity as individuals and truly is in our
blood. However, we have to acknowledge that we have never really embraced this
as a brewery, and are now genuinely rather puzzled as to why. In light of this, we
want to make a true commitment to being more local, in everything that we do. We
want to truly become of this place.
In light of this, we have been looking closer to home for inspiration, ideas and
ingredients. Cumbrian Agriculture has been pioneering in the “farm to fork”
movement, particularly with livestock farming. There is almost an expectation in our
hospitality sector that meat is sourced locally and Cumbrian meat is distributed
across the country to top end restaurants. Our new Farm to Glass series is, in
essence, about exploring the potential of Cumbria’s arable farming sector to add
value to the beers we produce.
Speaking to local farmers over the last few months, it has become increasingly clear
that the sector is in crisis. They lament the glory days that were and see little hope for the future. Given how pivotal the sector is to our local economy, we feel compelled to try and do something about it. Farming is the lifeblood of our county and we feel that the long-term health and sustainability of our food and drink sector
must hinge on turning around its fortunes.
Cumbria does not have a reputation for arable farming. The perception is that the
windy, exposed fells and dales don’t lend themselves to growing grains. However,
the reality is that hundreds of thousands of tonnes per year of various grains are
grown here and have been for decades. The issue has been trying to get to grips
with the supply chains that control the sector and find solutions to getting Cumbrian
grains into our mash tun. This has proved very challenging and Arable Pastures very
much represents the beginning of the journey. A first step if you will.
The principal problem facing farmers who grow grains is the nature of their product
being treated as a commodity. There is no particular premium to be sought by
growing grains better or planting fancy varietals. Global markets simply dictate that
these grains are worth X amount each year. If this price isn’t viable for a farmer,
there isn’t much for them to do about it. Also, given the investment and infrastructure
required, flexibility is rarely an option.
Our belief is that there is value to be had in actually using the grains as close to the
field they were grown in as possible. Why shouldn’t there be as much excitement in
drinking a beer produced from local grains as there is from eating meat and
vegetables produced locally? Be it for environmental reasons alone if nothing else!
Our ambition is for a future where a pint of Session IPA is brewed with grains grown
just down the road. There’s a long way to go to achieve that and many obstacles to
overcome. However, this beer is our starting point, with a portion of the grist coming
from barley sourced from our farmer friends Chris and Alan just down the road from
our bar in Penrith. This is important to us and we hope you can start to understand
why. Watch out for more to come. Cheers!