A brewery for Stroud – reinvented

For nearly 200 years the old Stroud Brewery was a major part of our town. It ceased production in 1967, leaving a void which is happily now once more filled.

Back in the 1800s and early 1900s, there were many more little breweries all over the country. In Stroud there was Stroud Brewery and Godsell’s Brewery in Salmon Springs. Nailsworth Brewery stood near Market Street in Nailsworth. And in Brimscombe, opposite the site of the modern Stroud Brewery is Brewery Lane, which connected Brimscombe Brewery at its base to Thrupp Brewery at the top of the lane.

Greg Pilley, who founded the current Stroud Brewery in 2006, told me more about the current and historic Stroud breweries.

“It was a very different time. When the original Brewery set up, brewing would have been kept very local as transport was an issue. Every town would have had its own maltings. Stroud Brewery maltings still stands next to Ecotricity headquarters. The area between there and the canal is where a lot of the old brewery buildings were so it was right in the heart of the town. There would also have been many more pubs. It was a time when people’s houses generally had a parlour and a kitchen but didn’t have living rooms. So pubs acted as a place for people, mostly men, to relax and socialise. I think that’s why British pubs are often homely comfortable spaces which feel like an extension of home. By the end of its time the old Stroud Brewery had built up a pub estate of about 200 pubs.”

“We are not a descendant of the original Stroud Brewery but we reinvented it. We started in a tiny unit about 100 yards from our current spot. We then expanded into an adjacent unit where we grew our equipment fourfold and started our public bar. Our bar became such an important part of the business that we moved again into a purpose-built premesis with a canal-side bar. We’re the only business along the canal that has its front directly facing the water so it’s a lovely spot. The Canal Trust have been really supportive and are soon to start clearing our section of the canal.”

Greg first studied marine biology and went on to work as an ecologist. He worked overseas doing VSO, worked for the Soil Association in Bristol and was a founding member of Stroud Community Agriculture who have land at Hawkwood and Brookthorpe.

“The idea of having a brewery in Stroud came to me whilst weeding carrots in the community farm and I was possessed from that moment forth. We got so much support to reinstate a Stroud brewery and Stroud is fiercely supportive of local business. We’re now in our 14th year of business. We sell directly to pubs, cafés and restaurants all over the county and down in Bristol and Bath. All our bottles and cans were organic from the start but for the last three years all our beers have been organic. Being an organic brewery has been of national interest so we work with several wholesalers and our packaged products go all over the UK. Small craft breweries have taken off over the last 10 years and there are now about 2500 across the UK. That’s a lot of choice for consumers! Quality and competition are really high. Our difference is that we are a dedicated organic brewery of which there are only 4 or 5 in the UK. Additionally, all our packaged and keg beers are vegan.

“Brewing combines my interests in community, connecting people with where their produce comes from, alcohol as a way of facilitating connections, making a nice product and running an enterprise. We named our launching brew Budding after Edwin Budding, the Inventor of the lawnmover. Phoenix Mill, where we started, was where the first lawnmowers were manufactured so this is ground zero for lawnmowers worldwide! Budding is still our most popular beer. Through our work we’re connected to the town and its history.”

Stroud Brewery, London Rd, Brimscombe, GL5 2BY,
t: 01453 887122, w: stroudbrewery.co.uk