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Ashford: £1.3 million Curious Brewery sets Ashford town centre open date

By Charlie Harman

A state-of-the-art drinking destination is set to open on March 29 next year, its managing director has revealed.

The restaurant, shop and tourist destination is mid-completion after the Tenterden winery Chapel Down took over the brownfield site in August 2016.

Speaking at a topping-out ceremony to mark the completion of its roof, Chapel Down's head brewer Matthew Anderson was excited about the opportunity.

What the brewery will look like upon its March 29 opening. (5707874)
What the brewery will look like upon its March 29 opening. (5707874)

He said: "It looks like a large space right now but it will soon be filled with really cool equipment.

"The project's coming along really well, it's on time which is the main thing. The building's gone up very quickly and the brewing equipment's going in within the next three weeks.

"Our planned volume's about 20,000 hectolitres, or two million litres, but we still want to grow. This is a really nice brewery, but we'd love to set up another down the road in a couple of years."

Curious Brewery's head brewer Matthew Anderson with Brewery MD Gareth Bath.
Curious Brewery's head brewer Matthew Anderson with Brewery MD Gareth Bath.

Mr Anderson also praised the Chapel Down team, which includes Gareth Bath - the former managing director of Brewdog International UK - and Chapel Down founder Frazer Thompson, a previous marketing manager for Whitbread.

The facility will have a restaurant specialising in modern British cuisine with windows to see the brewing work, alongside a 1,000 sq ft shop where visitors can purchase Kentish produce.

The building work is on track for completion by the end of March. (5708484)
The building work is on track for completion by the end of March. (5708484)

Also on offer will be a 4,000 sq ft bar and two dining rooms. A luxury private dining room will give guests the opportunity once a week to book onto special masterclasses hosted by one of the brewery-team and will feature a bespoke menu from the kitchen, each dish paired with a beer from the Curious range.

Curious Brewery's managing director, Gareth Bath, said: "The brewery is really beginning to take shape and we’ve been delighted with the progress we’ve made so far. Our opening date towards the end of March is on-track and we’re making plans for the opening and beyond.

Chapel Down CEO Frazer Thompson
Chapel Down CEO Frazer Thompson

"The new Curious Brewery won’t just be a major new employer in Ashford, directly and indirectly creating dozens of new jobs, it will be a reason for thousands of new visitors to come to the town each year and become a significant new focal point for everyone who lives here.

"The Curious Brewery is, obviously, going to produce thousands of litres of premium English lager, but the bar, restaurant and gardens mean it’ll be so much more than ‘just’ a brewery when our doors open."

The 1.6 acre facility came to fruition after a £1.7 million fundraising effort, with 895 investors giving money as part of a Seedrs equity crowdfunding scheme.

The interior will soon be outfitted with state-of-the-art brewing equipment and tourism facilities. (5708715)
The interior will soon be outfitted with state-of-the-art brewing equipment and tourism facilities. (5708715)

Beer will be kegged and bottled on site at a rate of more than 4,000 bottles an hour, aided by a custom built 5-vessel brewhouse, which will be capable of producing more than four-and-a-half million pints per year.

At the topping-out ceremony, Ashford Borough Council's Chief Executive Tracey Kerly said: "This is change, putting Ashford on the map from a different perspective.

"This is a destination opportunity for Ashford and we're so pleased that Chapel Down have decided to come here. It's rare to have a brewery in a town centre, and we've not got a brewery and restaurant right in the heart of Ashford."

Curious Brewery managing director Gareth Bath (right) with Ashford Borough Council Chief Executive Tracey Kerly and council leader Cllr Gerry Clarkson (5707878)
Curious Brewery managing director Gareth Bath (right) with Ashford Borough Council Chief Executive Tracey Kerly and council leader Cllr Gerry Clarkson (5707878)

Leader of the council, Cllr Gerry Clarkson, said: "It's always delightful when we see a vision come to fruition. To be here in the town centre - especially in this economic climate - says just how well Ashford is doing and I'm sure, with everything it has to offer, the Curious Brewery will be a great addition to the town."

For more information, visit https://www.curiousbrewery.com

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