The last year has seen Barnaby’s Brewhouse grow from strength to strength and is proving incredibly popular with our Farm Shop customers and in our Wine & Tapas bar. Based at Riverford Farm, Barnaby Harris and Tim Stacey have established an innovative and eco-friendly way to brew organic craft lager that tastes delicious.
We asked Barnaby and Tim a few questions to find out a bit more about this local supplier:
Why did you start brewing your own lager?
Barnaby : I had brewed a few batches of beer but wanted to do something different and try styles that other people weren’t doing. I started brewing continental lagers – which are cold fermented – and wanted to have an adventure with food pairings which I couldn’t find in the UK market.
Tim : Barnaby and I have been friends for years and, with my engineering background, he invited me in to help him with the technical side of the production. The challenges that we have been presented with have been intriguing and I’ve relished finding new ways to brew lager whilst retaining the traditional processes.
Have you had any difficulties setting up?
Here at Riverford’s Hole Farm, we are restricted by water, drainage and power which have made us think harder about the traditional brewing process . We have, literally, had to build a brewery from scratch and design innovative production techniques to overcome these factors. We have developed our processes so that there is almost no waste and our ethos is to be as ecological and efficient as we can. By becoming part of the local eco-system at Riverford, it has also encouraged us to be organic and by using spring water from Riverford Organic Farm means we get exactly the right mineral profile for delicately flavoured lagers.
How does your relationship work with Ben’s Farm Shop?
We work very closely with Ben’s Farm Shop, especially as we are just across the courtyard from the farm shop office! Ben actually pushed us out into the real world and encouraged us to start marketing our lagers locally. We have a fantastic relationship and are looking at collaborating on events in the near future. We are very grateful to their support as it has enabled us to mould our business and influence us on how we grow Barnaby’s Brewhouse successfully. Since becoming a supplier we have been able to piggyback on their shop distribution network which has been incredibly helpful!
At Ben’s Wine & Tapas our lagers complement their range of tapas and are increasingly popular with their customers which is fantastic. This new venture for Ben and Harry, has been a huge success already, with orders for our beers growing weekly, it seems to be exactly what Totnes needs.
You have three styles of lager, which one do you prefer?
Barnaby : It depends on my mood, the time of day and what I am doing. As a refreshing drink I would have the Pilsner but with a meal I would usually choose the Helles. The Dunkel is delicious with cheese or a dark chocolate pudding. The reasons for having the different styles is that we can have them in all situations.
Tim : Probably, Helles and the Dunkel, but then again if it’s a sunny day then the Pilsner is the real beast! If I’m in a pub in the evening Helles is way too easy to drink, it’s smooth and light, and incredibly accommodating with all the flavours. If I was having a drink at lunchtime then the Dunkel has a real satisfying, full flavour especially with a meal.
Which lager are you most proud of?
We’re very proud of all of them but technically the Pilsner is the most difficult to brew because there is nothing to hide behind, we are simply bringing out clean malt flavours balanced with subtle floral flavours coming from the hops. This is down to a meticulous brewing process with stringent quality control to maintain consistency. As we heard the other day and think it’s a great statement “It is more like a French cuisine than a heavily flavoured curry!”
How are you different from other craft lagers?
You can taste what hasn’t been added to the water! As we have only access to spring water there aren’t any chemicals, it’s completely pure and you can taste that. We have an artisan approach to brewing backed up with tailor made technology to maintain temperature and other important factors in the production process.
We focus on bringing out subtle malt and caramel flavours of the barley which is balanced by pushing back the heavy bitterness that some brewers seem to prefer. And finally, we play with European traditional brewing styles and pare them back to their true flavour profiles.
Your branding stands out on our shelves, what influenced you?
We wanted to communicate that we are a quality, natural, brewery and looking at our main competitors, it seemed as though they were all focusing on one demographic. We want to attract ALL customers that are looking to drink a nice lager and convert a few non-lager drinkers too! We have noticed that a lot of women seem to be buying our products, which is another audience we wanted to aim at. Also, we don’t use any animal products therefore they are suitable for vegans & vegetarians. We feel we’ve created a brand that entices everyone to try!
What are your future plans?
We are looking at further collaboration with Ben’s Farm Shop and other local companies. Focusing on building the business within the hospitality sector and working with restaurants to work on food pairings with specific menus. We aim to expand our range to include two new lager styles and do further tasting sessions with our retailers to get feedback. Although we have lots of other business ideas, we plan to remain a local, independent, brewery where we can keep enjoying our Friday afternoon bottle in the courtyard as usual whenever we can!