Ramsbury Brewing & Distilling Company - Wiltshire
Here follows 'part 2' of our recent day out in Wiltshire. So, after our leisurely pub lunch at the Three Tuns Freehouse in Great Bedwyn (if you haven't seen my prior blog post, you can catch up on it here), Scott and I ventured a few miles down the road to the Ramsbury Brewing & Distilling Company...
The Ramsbury Brewing & Distilling Company forms part of The Ramsbury Estate; a vast, rural estate that manages and farms "over 19,000 acres of North East Wiltshire, West Berkshire and North Hampshire". The "home farms" are centred in and around the village of Ramsbury, which nestles in the heart of the Kennet Valley. Here, the estate manages: a lettings business of over 100 cottages and houses; a brewery and distillery (more on those in a moment); a traditional smokehouse, which supplies restaurants, pubs and consumers; as well as a recently installed oil press, offering the finest quality cooking and dressing oils for customers to purchase.
With the bad weather well and truly closing in around us, we were grateful to be warmly welcomed indoors by Tibor Horvath; Operations Manager for the brewery and distillery.
The "state-of-the-art brewery" was where we began our guided tour. First up, we headed to the conditioning room, where all of the ales are stored at a constant temperature of 12˚, before being dispatched to clients.
The brewery has developed a range of traditional ales, including: Ramsbury Gold, Flint Knapper, Ramsbury Bitter and Silver Pig Stout. Available to purchase online here, or through select retailers (including local Waitrose and Co-op stores).
Well, you simply can't visit a brewery without trying a taste of freshly brewed beer! Tibor invited us to sample Ramsbury Gold (ABV 4.5%), the brewery's best-seller, and, their very first ale to be produced onsite. Cheers!
From there, we moved through to the German-made brew house next door. Tibor informed us that the main aim of the estate is to create a fully integrated farm system. Whereby, the estate aims to exclusively use products grown and sourced from its own farmland (barley, wheat, wood, etc). For example, the brewery produces its own barley for the ales, and, recycles water, which is subsequently used for washing the casks and the floors. The estate even provides the smokehouse with a fresh and local source of game throughout the year, such as, deer, partridge, duck and pigeon. Moreover, the river Kennet, a classic chalk stream, that runs through the heart of their land, gives them the opportunity to fish for trout.
The barley which is used in the brewing process, is grown on the estate and then sent to Warminster Maltings. Once the grain has gone through the malting process, it is then returned to the brewery, ready to be fermented into beer.
The only ingredient used in the beer making process that cannot be sourced from the estate, is the hops. These have to be purchased from hop merchants who import the ingredient from all around the world, from countries such as Australia, New Zealand, USA and Slovenia. The climate and soil conditions in Wiltshire are not suitable for growing hops, hence why the brewery has to look elsewhere!
Tibor talked us through the brewing process, pointing out what each piece of equipment is used for...
After our visit to the brewery, we headed with Tibor over to the distillery; a vast room which reminded me very much of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory!
Alas, you will not stumble across chocolate rivers, lickable wallpaper and everlasting gobstoppers here, but, do not panic! Instead, you will find single estate vodka and gin being produced!
The finest wheat is used in the distilling process, and the grain is grown on (you guessed it!) the estate.
From soil to seed, to the final bottled product, every drop of ale and liquor is created on site and fully handcrafted by the employees. In addition, every bottle's heritage is traceable back to its single field of origin (check out the co-ordinates of the field that are included on the bottle of vodka below!)...
Scott and I had a great time learning all about the brewing and distilling process.
Before heading back to Bath, Scott couldn't resist stocking up on a handful of bottles!