Intrepid Brewery - a tale of community spirit and enterprise in the Hope Valley
PUBLISHED: 09:06 19 October 2015 | UPDATED: 11:05 19 October 2015
A tale of brewing derring-do in Brough, Hope Valley
Driving through the Hope Valley, you can’t help but notice all the people taking part in adventurous activities. Whether it’s the paragliders soaring off Rushup Edge, the hikers toiling up Mam Tor, the mountain bikers tackling the descent off Hollins Cross or the road cyclists stealing themselves for the infamous climb of Winnats Pass, intrepid is certainly a word you can apply to them all. Arriving at the brewery in Brough, you could also apply the description to Ben McIntyre who has gone from being an IT specialist to a fully fledged brewer.
‘About four years ago my wife was struggling for a Christmas present and bought me a home brew kit and it all stemmed from that. I progressed quickly and made the foolhardy suggestion that I should do it commercially. We took the lease on for the brewery last May, many months of building work took us up to September and then we started brewing and selling beer. In February I quit my old job, went full-time brewing and about a month later we doubled our capacity. We’re struggling to keep up with demand, especially the bottling and will be outsourcing that soon.’
So, an intrepid area, full of intrepid people and an intrepid brewer but is that why the Brewery is called Intrepid?
‘We had all sorts of suggestions from people, at one point we were going to be called Mucky Hen. We settled on Intrepid as it’s quite a distinctive name, a powerful word and works well on a number of levels. It’s very much about the outdoors and adventure which fits in with the local area but we didn’t want to tie ourselves locally as for a brewery to succeed we think it needs to target national business.’
With a name and brand in place, a brewery is only as good as its beer so, in Ben’s opinion what constitutes the perfect pint?
‘Explorer is a clear favourite for a lot of people. Personally I prefer something a little hoppier so I’m very pleased with our new IPA. I try to make beers that you taste, get one flavour and then get a different one, and so on. For example, the St Bernard was a bit of a stab in the dark as I wanted to make a beer with a bit of rye and an oak flavour to it. I came up with a recipe that I thought would deliver a smooth beer with a bit of spice and an oak finish. It works really well. On first taste it’s very light and smooth, then you get a bit of the rye, some chocolate and bitterness and then finally the vanilla of the oak. Aroma is also really important, you should taste a beer before you even get it to your mouth.’
Having come so far in such a short amount of time, how does Ben see the future panning out for Intrepid?
‘We’d like to pursue bottling more with a view to export, it would be great to see our beers abroad at some point. We’d like to explore and move into the Manchester market more. Increased capacity will allow us to do this and we’ve just started with some wholesalers, which makes us far more national. The more people who know about our beer, the more will want to drink it and hopefully it’ll just build and build.”
The bike shop
When I arrived at the brewery, Matt Bowns of Eighteen Bikes in Hope was there helping Ben bottle a brew of Eighteen, so why the collaboration between a brewery and a bike shop? Matt explained.
‘I take full credit! I’d seen how much success Cocoa the chocolate shop in Sheffield had had doing a collaboration with Thornbridge producing a chocolate porter. We liked the idea of doing something similar, heard about Intrepid and thought we could keep it even more local and produce a beer that would be ideal to have a few pints of after a ride. I e-mailed Ben and coincidentally it coincided with his eighteenth batch of beer.’
With Intrepid’s name, it seemed like a match made in heaven and the idea certainly appealed to Ben.
‘Eighteen Bikes is obviously an outdoorsy company. We’re Intrepid and we wanted some visual promotion for ourselves so the deal was we would make a beer and they would make a video, which they did and made a really good job of it.’
Producing Eighteen Beer was a genuine joint process but Matt was very clear about the type of beer he envisaged.
‘I went in with something in mind that was easy drinking and not too strong in both flavour and alcohol. Ben came back with the idea of doing an American Red, we had a bit of a tasting session in the shop but basically they were all too strong. We asked Ben to make it again but tone it down and he did. We can’t sell it in the shop as we’re not licensed but the Spa shop next door stocks it – unfortunately they keep selling out!’
Watch the video: vimeo.com/126555259
Having visited the brewery and the bike shop, my final port of call was the Anglers Rest in Bamford where, as well as sampling a half of Intrepid Explorer, I met Ben’s wife Rebecca, one of the directors of this unique community owned pub, post office and café. She explained how the Anglers became the first community owned pub in Derbyshire.
‘The pub had been owned by various breweries and typically it would open for about six months under a tenant, they couldn’t make a go of it and then it would shut again. A group of us got together and decided to try to buy it as a community and make a go of it. We put together a business plan, launched a community share offer and agreed a sale price with the brewery. We’d raised about £260,000 in shares between about 300 investors, we’d got the Post Office contract and arranged social investment from a bank to cover the difference, so we were ready to go. However, at the eleventh hour, they decided to sell to a property developer instead. We’d already registered it as a community asset so were under the impression it couldn’t be sold but the sale still went ahead. The community launched a big campaign to draw attention to what had happened, our MP got involved and the brewery backed out of the sale to the developer and we had our pub back...’
With the finances in place, it really was a community effort to get the pub up and running.
‘It was a massive volunteer effort across the community to get the place looking as it does today. There were people sanding and varnishing tables, painting, and even the curtains were made by a lady in the village. Our local councillor was washing the carpets and an 80-year-old lady baked cakes to keep us going. It was fantastic to be a part of. We opened the pub in October 2013, the café a couple of months later and the Post Office in early 2014.’
With such strong community backing and input, it’s not surprising that the Anglers is now a real hub and focus, drawing in visitors and providing jobs.
‘We have live music events, monthly farmers’ market, vinyl nights, a really tough quiz and loads of other stuff going on. The staff behind the counter who run the place are paid, we employ about 30 mainly young people from the local area but it’s still supported by a big volunteer effort.’
Obviously a pub is only as good as its beer. My pint of Intrepid was excellent and the pub has also received a CAMRA pub of the month award. With the Anglers being a Loc-ale pub, at least one beer is always from within a 20-mile radius but, as Ben explained, you can also expect some brews from further afield. ‘The majority of beer you see on the bar comes through swaps with the brewery, so you can expect to a see a varied array of beers and not just the usual suspects.’
Having visited a brewery, bike shop and had a pint in an award-winning pub, it had been pretty close to my perfect day. All that remained was for me to grab a slice of cake from the café and head home to sample the rest of Ben’s wares. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it.
Intrepid Explorer ABV 4%
As a gentleman, I prefer blondes and this is my idea of a perfect pint. Refreshing, light but, with Galaxy and Cascade hops and five different malts, in no way bland. After a big day on the hills or relaxing for a summer session in a beer garden, this is the beer to go for.
Intrepid St Bernard ABV 4.4%
A really interesting beer that packs in disproportionate amounts of complexity and flavour relative to its ABV. Take some time to savour it and you get a whiff of smoke in the nose, a smooth first taste, the spice of a brown ale and then a final subtle hint of smoke and oak.
Intrepid Porter ABV 4.8
I’m not a massive stout and porter fan but, with less of a bitter finish than many of its ilk and some very moorish chocolate and coffee notes, I could easily see myself settling down to a couple of these on a winter’s night.
Intrepid Eighteen Midland Red ABV 4%
The collaboration brew and, saving my bottle until after a long hot bike ride, I can confirm it performs exactly as intended. Thirst quenching, refreshing, enough hops to be interesting and with a hint of nuttiness that’ll please bitter drinkers.
For more information and to find out where you can sample Intrepid Beers, go to www.intrepid.beer