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Plans for brewery and tap room on awarding-winning farm in Upper Halling, near Rochester

A group of entrepreneurs are hoping to open a brewery and tap room on an award-winning farm.

Six mates, who have formed Moot Brew Co, want to launch a new venture at Court Farm at Upper Halling which is already home to a butchery and farm shop selling local produce.

Brewery team - (from left) Patrick, Will, Ian, Tom and Calvin
Brewery team - (from left) Patrick, Will, Ian, Tom and Calvin

They all live in the area and are looking to join the thriving business community in Pilgrims Road in the shadow of the North Downs.

Plans are to convert an old barn to brew their own craft beers where visitors can see them at work and sample the ale.

As the business develops they plan to supply pubs, bars, restaurants and off-licences.

Company director Patrick Smith, who lives in the village, said the group has a wealth of experience in hospitality, marketing, finance and graphic design.

One of them, Calvin Gear, is already a head brewer and they have invested in their own brewing equipment ahead of getting planning permission.

Patrick, 29, said: "We are all craft beer enthusiasts. Kent has been the home of English hops for centuries, yet there's not a drive forward for modern hop beer around this area in the Garden of England."

He believes the tap room is integral to their proposed operation.

He said: "A tap room features community tables and a relaxed environment.

"We would encourage socalisation, community engagement and offer beer styles, tastes and ingredients that you may not experience elsewhere.

"A tap room is meant to offer an experience in tasting site-brewed beer that excites and engages beer lovers and non-beer lovers alike."

The business would complement other elements on the 320 hectares farm, which is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

A mill on site would provide flour for the bakery and crops including wheat, barley and linseed are grown in the fields.

Educational tours and brewery "experience" days would be on offer for ramblers who frequent the Pilgrims Way and North Downs Way and what they call "beer tourists" who travel from far and wide to sample real ale.

It is hoped that it will attract customers to the Country Larder farm shop which proved popular during the lockdown.

The butchery opened in 2002 promoting pasture fed livestock produced on the farm and at nearby Ranscombe Nature Reserve at Cuxton.

There are plans to introduce a fortnightly farmers' market on site.

Toasting their new venture - (from left) Calvin, Danielle,Patrick, Tom and Sam
Toasting their new venture - (from left) Calvin, Danielle,Patrick, Tom and Sam

Opening hours to the public to the micro brewery and tap room would be between 8am to 6pm, Monday to Saturday and between 9am to 6pm on Sunday and bank holidays.

They are keen that the business "does not become a night time destination for the consumption of alcohol".

Tours would be at set times with parties of about 10 people.

Space has also been set aside for villagers to meet and discuss local issues.

Patrick said: "We will aim to create a place for anyone to rock up, feel welcome and at home. Somewhere for the local parish to meet and discuss projects, for societies to play board games or ramblers to get refreshed."

The farm, which has been in the hands of the Lingham family for three generations, has won county-wide awards.

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