Hogs Back Brewery

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by John Harrington Who are they? Hogs Back started with a book and a dream. Beer enthusiast Tony Stanton-Precious found by chance a library book...

by John Harrington Who are they? Hogs Back started with a book and a dream. Beer enthusiast Tony Stanton-Precious found by chance a library book entitled How to start your own brewery, which told him about the risks involved in the industry ­ but he was inspired. Meanwhile, his future partner, Martin Zillwood-Hunt, began brewing to occupy his time after suffering a breakdown in 1989. Together they set up the Hogs Back brewery ­ along with Zillwood-Hunt's brother John ­ in 18th-century barns in Togham, near Guildford in Surrey. Operations started in 1992, and since then the brewery has been extended. In 1994, Hogs Back started producing bottled beers as a way to tap into the supermarkets, and it now sells to south east branches of Sainsbury, Safeway and Waitrose. The group is dedicated to traditional brewing ­ it uses traditional hops and malts, not modern hybrid ones ­ and is committed to the Camra cause. "We set up at the time when enthusiasm for properly crafted real ales was rising," said general manager David Underwood. Hogs Back is also a favourite at the Great British Beer Festival, having won prizes five times ­ including gold for its Traditional English Ale in 2000. It wasn't so lucky this year though, missing out on the finals for the first time this century. Underwood said: "We weren't overly surprised. We've had a good run and it's fair enough that Camra wants to give other brewers a look-in." Main brands: Favourites include Dark Mild (3.4% abv), Hair of the Hog (3.5% abv) and Vintage Ale (6.5% abv). It produces three beers in 275ml bottles ­ Brewsters Bundle (7.4% abv), Wobble-in-a-Bottle (7.5% abv) and A over T (an impressive 9% abv) ­ and three in 500ml bottles: Old Tongham Tasty (6% abv), Burma Star Ale (4.5% abv) and TEA (4.2%). Employees: 18 Production: About 140 barrels a week. Don't mention: Teething problems. During the first brew, a hack-saw and plastic pipe were needed to resolve a production problem. Future plans: Expanding in the south east of England. Underwood said: "We're in the process of rationalising our sales team, with new staff looking to get business further afield. We have dedicated salesmen in the Southampton area and also in South East London.

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