Chapel Down’s biggest investment for ‘cathedral of brewing’

By Stuart Stone contact

- Last updated on GMT

Jewel in the crown: Curious Brewery’s new facility will allow it to focus on ‘modern premium and craft beer drinkers’
Jewel in the crown: Curious Brewery’s new facility will allow it to focus on ‘modern premium and craft beer drinkers’
Chapel Down Group unveiled Curious Brewery’s brand new multimillion-pound facility in Ashford, Kent, on 10 May.

The new 2,900hl capacity brewery, set in a 1.6-acre site opposite Ashford International railway station on the HS1 line, can hold close to 170,000 pints of beer at any given time. 

The facility will produce more than 4,000 bottles of Curious Brew per hour and pipe unpasteurised beer directly into the site’s restaurant and bar from on-site tanks.

The range of beers produced at the site will include Curious Brew lager, re-fermented with Champagne yeast, and its triple hopped session IPA – products provided at the London Symphony Orchestra by Curious, the orchestra’s official beer and cider supplier – as well as regular limited-edition brews.

Gareth Bath

Full field-to-glass story

Discussing the new site, Curious’s managing director Gareth Bath explained that the brewery was designed in line with the company’s wider philosophy.

He said: “We’ve been talking for a long time about how our drinks are ‘a conversation with the earth’, whether we’re using grapes, apples or hops, pretty much everything we do relies on Mother Nature’s bounty as a start point.

“From there on, we add the experience and the passion of our first-class Chapel Down team to make the very finest English beers, ciders and wines.

“It is a cathedral of brewing in every sense. The soaring point of the roof has spire-like qualities, the people who work with, and for us, have a devotion I’ve not come across before and we hope the congregation of Kentish and British beer lovers will come and visit regularly, we are here to serve.”

Bath hopes that the brewery’s distinctive 1,000sq ft ground floor – featuring a shop, bar and tour hosting area – landscaped kitchen gardens and waterfall feature, alongside its 4,000sq ft bar, two dining rooms and programme of masterclasses will provide a tourist destination.

“We want the Curious Brewery to be both a one-off experience and a much-loved and much-visited local venue,” he explains. “If you’ve never been around a brewery before, I’d really recommend coming and taking part in one of our tours, finding out the full field-to-glass story behind how and what do from our Cicerone-trained team, which will also be able to explain how we bring a winemaker’s touch to the process.

“If you live locally in Kent or Sussex, we hope the Curious Brewery will become somewhere you consider again and again for drinks and for dinner. And because we’re right by the station in Ashford, if you’re coming from London, we’re only half an hour on the train from King’s Cross.”

Curious restaurant

The real fun starts here

Head brewer Matt Anderson describes being involved in the site’s design by stipulating every detail of the brewing process as “any brewer’s dream”.

“This means having things like a specially designed brewhouse with an external calandria design that gives us increased control on the boiling process, allowing us to consistently brew beers of the highest quality.

“But the real fun starts here, and we can really begin our brewing adventure, while welcoming all of our curious visitors.

“Our whole focus is on serving the changing expectations of modern premium and craft beer drinkers.”

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Just the start

Chapel Down Group chief executive officer Frazer Thomson says: “This is the latest jewel-in-the-crown for Chapel Down.

“In just the past six months, we’ve harvested the single biggest grape harvest the country has ever seen, leased new land that will give us the biggest vineyard in the country and further extend our lead as Britain’s biggest winemaker and opened the Chapel Down Gin Works at King’s Cross.

“We’ve been busy. But opening the Curious Brewery is our biggest investment to date. This is the final foundation stone under our belief that we are Britain’s most exciting drinks company. 

“Our wines are drunk in Downing Street; in the Royal Opera House, at Ascot; and we beat our French friends regularly when it comes to quality. Our gins and vodka are multi-award-winning, and our brand new Pinot Noir Gin is already being hailed as best-in-class. But this new brewery cements our position as an innovative, progressive dynamic maker of some of the finest beer in the country, if not the world. And the most exciting thing is, this is just the start.”

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