Sometimes when I’m working well into the night or stuck in ungodly motorway traffic at 8pm on a Friday evening, I have to remind myself that it could be a hell of a lot worse. Most of my days are spent in beautiful pubs up and down the UK, working with really passionate people and collaborating with innovative and exciting brands.
Recently, Vintage Inns have been working closely with Purity Brewing Company on a few different projects but mainly the introduction of their beer, Longhorn IPA, into some of our lucky pubs in and around the Midlands.
On a personal level, to see the brand I work for start to acclimatise to the world of craft beer is a really exciting prospect and I’m thrilled to have Purity on board to work in conjunction with. They also happen to be a lovely bunch of guys and girls, and they are mightily hospitable too! They let us use their brewery, located in the middle of the Warwickshire countryside, for our team meeting last week. As well as keeping us fed and watered all day they also made sure we left enough time at the end of the day to show us around the brewery.
I don’t really know what I was expecting to be honest. I obviously knew of Purity’s growth since their inception in 2005 and their growing notoriety in the UK as one of the best regional breweries going, but I don’t think I’d appreciated the scale of production for what, in my mind anyway, was still a small microbrewery.
Purity takes eco-friendly brewing very seriously. It’s at the heart of what they do. Their wetland water system naturally filters any water by-products from the brewery so it can be returned back into the river, heat exchange systems allow the brewery to optimise power and reduce heat wastage during brewing and and even the spent grains are reused by local farmers for pig feed. Every cog in the Purity machine is there for a multitude of purposes that not only benefit the business but also the rural surroundings in which they have made themselves home. So much so they’ve recently been named Sustainable Manufacturer of the Year at the Made in the UK Awards. This care and attention to detail transcends into every part of what they do and is instantly visible when you step foot in the brewery itself. Of course you expect a brewery to be clean, but bloody hell the head brewer Flo runs a tight ship.
Brewery tour extraordinaire, John, takes us around from the hop storage room which is packed out with wall to wall hops from around the world which all converge to give your nostrils a fruity smack when you walk in. And as we work our way up through the (medically clean, thoroughly labelled) grain storage room we emerge into the science lab. This small room overlooking the brewery floor and brewing vessels is littered with beakers and measuring devices on the surfaces and equations scrawled across the white board walls. The only thing missing from this chemistry classroom is a Bunsen burner. This is where every batch is tested rigorously and monitored, and once again reinforces the level of detail that goes into the entire process and goes some lengths into explaining why my homebrew always comes out tasting like heavily hopped anti-freeze.
The brewhouse itself is far grander in scale than I had anticipated – as is the brewing schedule, which regularly has to hit four brews in 24 hours. In hindsight, with their continual growth and national demand for their beers, I shouldn’t have been too taken aback by the size and the technology Purity have at their disposal. I just saw the touch screen master terminal and the hop dosing machines and thought I’d stepped into the Budweiser factory.
Purity are a brewery that are undoubtedly increasing their presence at the center stage of beer production not just in the Midlands, but nationally and internationally too. Their Pure UBU and Lawless Lager both won gold at the 2015 World Beer Awards, picking up the accolades of the World’s Best Amber Ale and World’s Best German Style Lager, respectfully. While their expansion plan for the Purecraft Bar and Kitchen into the East Midlands and Yorkshire looks to be in the pipeline also. If the likes of Brewdog are showing us how craft brewing can be done on a large scale, using guerrilla marketing and gimmicks, Purity are illustrating how it’s possible to produce consistent, high quality beers while maintaining their super strong ethos. They’re the good guys, and they’re doing pretty damn great.