The following Article was written and researched by Leigh Norwood. Owner of Favourite Beers in Cheltenham.
There is a definite buzz around the Cheltenham beer scene at the moment; not only has the town recently achieved national recognition for a number of its beery outlets but there is also rising excitement around an imminent addition to the town’s array of micro-breweries. Located in two large units on the Lansdown Industrial estate (a couple of minutes’ walk from Cheltenham Spa train station) a brand new micro-brewery is starting to take shape – that brewery is ‘DEYA Brewing Company’.
DEYA is the brainchild of Theo Freyne, a passionate young brewer from Cirencester who has spent the last year perfecting his art by gypsy brewing at the likes of Force brewery (Cirencester) and Cats Brewing (Banbury), Theo first got the taste for beer from his dad but it was when he was introduced to the taste of some of the amazing beers coming out of the US craft brewing revolution that he decided to have a go at brewing himself whilst in the second year studying for a History degree in Edinburgh. He started off with a basic malt extract starter kit (purchased from ‘Pops Home Brew’ in Cheltenham) but soon moved on to full grain brewing where he learned that brewing was not such a straightforward science (Theo owns up that the first three brews were awful and were tipped away).
Determined to find out how to brew properly Theo first spent some time getting work experience at Theakstons brewery in Yorkshire, he then enrolled for a Master’s Degree in Brewing and Distilling at Edinburgh’s acclaimed Heriot Watt University. During the summer of 2014 Theo worked at Cotswold Brewing Company at Bourton on the Water where he completed his University project on ‘Fermentation’. He subsequently spent a few months’ work experience at Five Points brewing company in Hackney (one of the leading lights in the London ‘Craft’ beer scene), he then went on to spend a few more months working at the world renowned Odell Brewing Co. in Fort Collins, Colorado.
With all this experience behind him, Theo was looking for a chance to set up his own brewery where he would have total control over the quality of his beer production. That opportunity came his way towards the end of 2015 when he heard through the grapevine that the excellent Harbour brewery based in Bodmin, Cornwall were upgrading their plant and putting their existing 10bbl kit on the market. Quick off the mark he went to view the kit and offered the asking price straight away – thus securing this top class brewing equipment ahead of four other fairly big names on the UK brewing scene.
The brewing equipment is made by US company Bavarian Brewery Equipment who target their systems at US Brew pubs. It is a 10bbl 2 vessel with four fermentation vessels and four conditioning tanks. The system is steam driven for maximum temperature control and the kettle comes complete with a Whirlpool whilst the combination mash/lauter tun has motor driven agitator/rakes to enable consistent mash temperatures and easy cleaning. The fermentation vessels have efficient glycol cooling jackets and glycol is also used for one of the two heat exchangers. The whole system is based around control and efficiency and indeed Harbour brewery were able to complete double brewdays on the equipment.
The Brewhouse will be located in one of the Industrial units which has been recently prepared for the imminent installation with updated flooring and drainage. Theo hopes to be up and brewing by April 2016 and has great plans to turn the other Industrial unit into a thriving tap house which will hold regular events and encourage people to drink on site and also take away via a growler dispense system. He also has a storage area put aside for future barrel aging projects.
The brewery will start off with a trio of top quality beers – their superb 5.2% APA, Steady Rolling Man has already made regular appearances around the South West and this will be augmented with a 4% Hoppy Wheat beer and a 5% coffee oatmeal stout. Theo is very keen to achieve top quality in a small number of beers in the short term, but does not rule out the production of small quantity brews of other styles, particularly for the tap room. All beers will initially almost exclusively be packaged in keg form although the move to cask has not been ruled out (they have indeed already agreed to produce cask ales for the 2016 Cheltenham CAMRA Real Ale Festival). Other future packaging is likely to include cans but bottled beers are not currently being considered. The innovative and attractive artwork for all of the DEYA branding has been produced by talented London based artist Thom Hobson.
On the face of it this new fledgling brewery with its keg dispense philosophy and modern beer styles is well and truly nailing its colours to the UK ‘Craft’ scene and I expect it will make a big impression in that market over the course of 2016. However, Theo is also very passionate about the local market and it determined to make DEYA an asset for Cheltenham and Gloucestershire. Exciting times are ahead.
Incidentally, DEYA is named after a picturesque village on the north west coast of Majorca, nestling in between the mountains and the sea. The village was made famous by the poet and writer Robert Graves who moved there in 1930 and wrote “I, Claudius” under the brooding local Teix mountain.