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Northfleet brewery Iron Pier set to bring brewing back to Gravesham after 85 years

By Ed McConnell

Brewing is returning to Gravesham for the first time in more than 80 years.

Iron Pier Brewery and tap room is hoping to open towards the end of the month in two units in May Avenue, Northfleet, and will become the borough’s first beer producer since Russell’s Brewery was turned into a bottling plant after being bought by Truman’s in 1932.

The West Street plant was then transformed into flats in the 80s, bringing to an end the borough’s ties to the beer industry. At one point there were four breweries in the district, with Russell’s competing with Wellington, Wood & Son and Northfleet.

James Hayward, John Warden and Charlie Venner who are gearing up to open Iron Pier Brewery in Norhtfleet
James Hayward, John Warden and Charlie Venner who are gearing up to open Iron Pier Brewery in Norhtfleet

Iron Pier is the brainchild of Charlie Venner and John Warden – from Gravesend’s first micropub The Compass Alehouse, in Manor Road – and James Hayward, formerly of Swanscombe’s Caveman Brewery.

Mr Venner, 40, said: “We wanted to bring brewing back to Gravesham. We love the area and there’s really strong historical links with the beer industry which need to be preserved.”

The site – which takes its name from Town Pier, the world’s oldest cast iron jetty – will include a laboratory to ensure quality and consistency and there will be taste sessions for suppliers.

There will also be a cold room and refrigerated delivery trucks to maintain the optimum 12C temperatures needed to guarantee the perfect pint.

Mr Venner, of The Avenue, Greenhithe, said: “At first we want to produce an English pale and a bitter to see how the kit performs and we then hope to produce four varieties, which will become our core range, before eventually building up to six.

“We have the kit to be comfortably producing 180 barrels (12,670 pints) a week and will start off with just three of us. It’s a big operation but the world is our oyster.”

Mr Venner said the tap room will be a great venue for a casual pint and would welcome those with a passion for brewing to take a look around.

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