Within the taproom’s first year of operation, Cave Direct has announced that it intends to set up a barrel-ageing project and the UK’s first dedicated blendery, where spontaneously fermented beer from the UK and abroad will be blended to create Belgian-influenced sour beers.
The company explained: “We’ve been to these breweries hundreds of times, met the people, tried the beers, even done a little blending ourselves, and there is no style that gets us more excited. When the idea of founding a blendery was first floated, we knew we had found the answer.
“It was a chance to revive the history of the original Belgian pubs who bought wort from lambic producers to age and blend themselves before serving direct to their drinkers.”
Respect for Belgian tradition
Cave Direct’s blendery will respect the tradition of Belgian lambic producers, who regard the terms used to describe their beers as specific to their location, and have yet to come up with a name to describe the type of beer they will be producing.
The company will also be buying in wort from several British breweries to make traditional blends and fruited beers using British produce, as well as ageing beer in oak barrels to create a “tannic, rich and fruity beer not a million miles away from a Rioja”.
It added: “The second major difference is the wort we will use. Rather than buy it from Belgium, we’ll be using British liquid. Excitingly, several British breweries have recently acquired coolships, and we’ll be buying ours from them.
“Three breweries (to be announced!) have all agreed to supply us both their liquid and some expertise to get us off the ground. Grateful doesn’t cover it. With this beer we’ll be making traditional blends, as well as fruited beers using British produce.”
The project will be called the Good Company Blendery and the beers will be available exclusively from the Beer Merchants Tap in “a few years' time”.
Training with beer experts
The taproom will also include a state-of-the-art cellar where Cave Direct will offer training to customers and their staff, including changing kegs, best practice and line cleaning. Regular sensory training sessions with Cicerone-certified staff and other beer experts will also feature.
Cave Direct managing director Colin Gilhespy added: “My dad founded Cave Direct back in 1979 and when I joined my first job was setting up our little bottleshop in south-east London. Since that closed, opening our own taproom is something we’ve always wanted to do.
“This big space allows us to create a wonderful place for beer lovers to try the hundreds of incredible beers we bring in, as well as a centre of excellence to help our customers look after their beer and make sure their own sites excel.”
The company is currently crowdfunding to raise money for the project. For every £1 someone invests, they will get £2 to spend in the pub when it opens (a minimum £50 investment required).