Posted on February 16 2021
Stroud Brewery stands proud as one of the UK’s leading organic craft beer breweries. It combines the founder Greg Pilley’s love of beer with his firm belief in championing the environment and the community. His aim from the start was to make “outstanding beer without damaging the planet and to bring people together to inspire positive change.” Big ideals and ones that the brewery has firmly stuck to.
Greg’s strong belief in community and the environment stems from an expat childhood in remote Argentina, Iran and Jordan. In these circles, social drinking was all part of building a community. Much like a good village pub here is today (when we’re not in lockdown!), but more deeply ingrained. His degree in Marine Biology at Swansea helped him on his career path, working at various conservation organisations in the UK and overseas. That included two years as a VSO Project Manager in Nigeria, two years researching traditional alcoholic drinks in Africa, in reference to society and community, then a stint with the Soil Association, supporting community-based food projects, back in Bristol. He is also a founding member of Stroud Community Agriculture. So, you can see how deep-seated Greg’s ideals are. It was, in fact, while he was weeding carrots on the community farm that he first thought of starting a craft beer brewery.
Add in his passion for beer and founding a brewery with integrity was a natural progression. That was in 2006. Stroud Brewery brought together his belief in sustainability, organic farming, the community and beer, guided by “care for the people and the planet.”
About Stroud Brewery
Stroud Brewery address: Kingfisher Business Park, London Rd, Brimscombe, Stroud, GL5 2BY
Stroud's craft beer styles: Pale ales, amber bitters, lager, stout and seasonal one-offs.
Stroud's craft beer worth trying: A few of our favourites are available in our craft beer online bottleshop
Online: Visit the Stroud Brewery website.
And within two months of launching, Greg and his small team had won their first award – Champion Beer of Gloucestershire at the Cotswold Beer Festival for their flagship brew, Budding Pale Ale. A life-affirming moment! And since then, Stroud Brewery has won many other accolades. And, if you’re wondering about the name of this Champion beer, Edwin Budding, born in Stroud, invented the lawn mower (and the adjustable spanner!) and its first model was manufactured on the site of the original Stroud Brewery.
Classic … and then some
Their guiding principle on beer style is “classic, and then some” – which translates in Stroud Brewery terms as a classic style given a unique twist from the brewery. That could be in method or in more way-out additions of hops, spices, herbs, fruit … you get the picture. They produce pale ales, amber bitters, lager, stout and seasonal one-offs, all in bottle, can and cask. The first two are vegan friendly craft beers and they have been working towards making their cask ales vegan too.Shop Stroud beers
A more-gentle footprint on the planet
A desire to lower their carbon and water footprint means they use malting barley largely grown on the Cotswolds. Most of this is the variety Maris Otter (one of the finest malts for brewing) and have it hand malted at the traditional Warminster Maltings close by. In 2019, they moved 100 metres down the road to bigger premises to give themselves greater brewing capacity, larger storage facilities and more space for their very lively (in non-Covid times) tap room, important as it really is an integral part of their local community. What’s more, it’s canal-side, which makes it even more appealing, especially in summer. Building it from scratch was also a great boon – they could design it for maximum sustainability. They now have the kit for rainwater capture and aim to install solar panels to supply energy. In addition, they use energy-efficient coolers, while heat generated from the fermenting beer can used to warm the building or used in the brewing process. At the other end of the process, spent grain goes to feed local livestock and spent hops is used locally as compost.
These eco-friendly facilities were made possible, in part, by crowdfunding – it raised about a quarter of the necessary cash. In return, those funders enjoy brewery benefits – 10% off Stroud Brewery beers for starters, a day of beer making with friends and the like.
A hop club – grow your own!
Stroud Brewery also has a local hop club with about 40 members, who are given hop cuttings to grow in their gardens and allotments. With the flowers from these, the team each year make a green hop beer (Brewers Garden 4.2%) – how great is that? And every year, pandemic 2020 aside, the brewery puts on an annual event with beer and music. That’s something to look forward to when normality, rather than ‘the new normal, returns.
Like minded collaborations:
They like to collaborate too with like-minded organisations – even in 2020. In September, they teamed up with Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage and created two organic beers, “to reconnect people to natural, sustainable and ethical food sources” … ie get foraging! They were both pale ales – one was The Stinger using, you’ve guessed it, locally picked nettles for a zesty twist. The other was a modern take on an amber ale, using rye from the West Country and UK hops.
In May 2019, they’d joined with Toast Brewery, Hobbs House Bakery and Friends of the Earth to create a beer from bread that was destined as waste (in the UK, we waste a phenomenal 44% of our bread). The outcome was a heavily hopped amber ale called Flour Power!
What's next for Stroud Brewery?
It’s a tough time for craft beer breweries, but Greg hopes to weather the storm and come out stronger … as an ethical destination making great craft beers for the local community and UK wide. Their own canning machine and a move to cans will help keep them agile and pivot in face current challenges.
We're proud to be supporting this brewery during these trying times and knew our comrades would want to, too. Cheers comrades!
Jared, our beer expert, sat down with Greg Pilley (over Zoom of course), to discuss everything Stroud!