Microbreweries in Kent: 10 of the best
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Beer and ales brewed in small batches with locally sourced ingredients and a community spirit; microbreweries are on the rise. Here are 10 of the best in Kent
1. Canterbrew, Canterbury
With a play on the name of Geoffrey Chaucer’s most famous stories, The Canterbury Tales, Canterbrew offer six core ales called The Canterbury Ales. The ales are named after characters from the stories, and include a mild stout, a light pale ale and a bitter with notes of toffee among others.
Having started in 2010, Canterbrew keeps at least two special ales a month that change frequently, and often make the most of single hops. It has even won a regional award from SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers, 2014).
2. Canterbury Brewers, Canterbury
Located at the Foundry Brew pub on White Horse Lane in the historic Canterbury, Canterbury Brewers is relatively young but has seen success as another SIBA award winner, for its chocolate and vanilla flavoured porter. The four barrel brewery – which you can see from the bar – is chugging away throughout the year producing inventive ales.
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Creations include dark and malty Kobald, or the “flagship golden ale” Foundry Man’s Gold. Something different can be tried seasonally in the form of Scrumpkin, a pumpkin pie beer or the Christmas Pudding Ale that’s warmed with festive spices. All can be enjoyed in the bar straight from draught along with other local beers.
3. Larkins Brewery, Chiddingstone
Located in the pretty village of Chiddingstone is Larkins Brewery, the small, family run brewers that only uses hops from the onsite farm for its beers. The range of beers comprise of three regular beers (Traditional, Pale and the “rich, fruity” Best Bitter) alongside two seasonally changing brews.
4. Whitstable Brewery, Whitstable
Born in 2003, the multi-award winning Whitstable Brewery, owned by the Whitstable Oyster Company, supplies beers from Kent to Yorkshire with a permanent cask ale collection of seven ales including its own take on East India Pale Ale, and a Native Bitter alongside the Golden Ale Pearl of Kent and Winkle Picker, a Best Bitter. Seasonal and special ales have included the bitter Grafty Green Hop and the Christmas Spirit available in December makes for a warming tipple.
Pubs serving Whitstable Brewery beers include The Man of Kent Alehouse in Rochester, The Plough Inn in Stalisfield Green, Ye Olde Thirsty Pig in Maidstone and of course, The Corner Tap in Faversham, which is also part of the Whitstable Oyster Company. Check the website for more, there’s over 200!
5. Old Dairy Brewery, Tenterden
Thirty barrels stand in the converted Nissen huts in the pretty town of Tenterden brewing away throughout the year for the Old Dairy Brewery. Supporting local Kentish suppliers, ingredients are sourced as locally as possible to create bitters, Indian Pale Ales, stouts and seasonally changing special beers too.
Visit the onsite shop and find well conditioned bottles of beer from Old Dairy including Uber Brew with an “extremely clean-drinking” taste and “flora aroma”, or Dark Side of the Moo, a dark Imperial Porter that won a SIBA gold award in 2015.
6. Tonbridge Brewery, East Peckham
Located in the village of East Peckham, Tonbridge Brewery was established in 2010 as a four barrel brewery but has since expanded and now has 12 barrels producing lots of tasty ales that are enjoyed all over the county and beyond.
With plenty of awards and accolades from SIBA, CAMRA and customers too, beers at Tonbridge Brewery include blonde ale Blonde Ambition, the dry and hoppy Coppernob and American hopped pale ale Union Pale. You can even get all its beers in five litre mini casks – perfect for gatherings! Check out the website for a list of stockists with Tonbridge Brewery ales available.
7. Mad Cat Brewery, Faversham
Based at Brogdale Farm in Faversham, the father and son team behind the Mad Cat Brewery have been creating ales since late 2012. Ideally located near hop farms means that the Mad Cat can pick and have the hops brewed in under 12 hours for its beers. Supplying beers to pubs in North Kent, the brewery also has special brews for certain pubs such as the Crispin Amber Ale and Crispin Pale Ale for The Crispin Inn in Sandwich.
The “Keepers” range is the popular regular ales list that includes Mad Cat, a Golden ale, Platinum Blonde, the blonde ale, Red Ale, a best bitter and more. Seasonal ales have included Buzz Wiser, a honey ale, Oatrageous, an oat pale ale and Elder Blonde, a pale ale infused with elderflower.
8. Kent Brewery, Birling
Brewing high quality and modern beers using traditional methods is the goal at Kent Brewery based in the village of Birling. The stylish, contemporary packaging reflects the modernity of this brewery alongside its inventive ale creations.
Why not try Old Jamaica, a toffee ginger stout based on a Jamaican recipe; Abbey 2016, a strong Belgian blend; or Cobnut, a ruby ale with nutty flavours.
9. Hopdaemon Beers, Newnham
What started out as a hobby for Tonie Prins in his student years has turned into somewhat of an obsession – resulting in Hopdaemon Brewery. With a focus on high quality and locally-grown ingredients going into the beers and a meticulous attention to detail throughout the entire brewing process, Hopdaemon has become a successful and award winning venture.
With fantastical graphics on the bottles and a general feeling of horror mixed with mystery, ales include Skrimshander IPA, the golden ale Green Daemon, and strong ruby ale Leviathan. You can even order ales directly to your door with the Ales By Mail service.
10. Ripple Steam Brewery, Sutton-by-Dover
Being mindful of the environment at every stage, Ripple Steam Brewery in Sutton-by-Dover brews in a traditional and controlled way to maximise flavour and consistency in its batches to produce some perfect Kent beers.
There’s the award-winning Original Best Bitter, Classic IPA, Farmhouse Pale Ale and Black IPA with a chocolaty malt flavour. At Ripple Steam, there’s a focus on doing the classics well.