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New brewery owners toast success as they launch new business at Court Farm, Upper Halling

A group of entrepreneurs who are opening a brewery and tap room in the heart of the countryside are already toasting their first success.

Six mates who have formed Moot Brew Co have launched their inaugural home-made beer in pubs across the county and south east London.

Head brewer Calvin Gear with the new brew
Head brewer Calvin Gear with the new brew

And it has attracted rave reviews from real-ale fans who can't get enough of the KAPA (Kentish American Pale Ale).

The Dead Pigeon micropub in Rochester High Street sold out in 24 hours with a total of 125 pints being downed.

The guys behind the newly-formed company posted: "KAPA is a banger. We're honestly a bit overwhelmed by the feedback on our first brew."

One punter called it: "A great juicy hop forward hazy beer with a twist."

Another wrote: "Very unusual and looked like a cross between lager and scrumpy. Sweet, tangy and very nice – well worth a second pint, well done lads!"

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

Their new venture is based in a converted barn at Court Farm, Upper Halling, already home to a thriving business community including a butchery and farm shop selling local produce.

Visitors to the farm in Pilgrims Road will be able to see the group, who all live locally, at work and sample their brews.

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

They have already completed "first pour" sessions for drinkers at eight venues, including Rochester micropubs, Wolfe and Castle and The Dead Pigeon and their local the Black Horse at Thurnham.

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

Court Farm, Upper Halling, Rochester. Picture: Google
Court Farm, Upper Halling, Rochester. Picture: Google

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

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 added the response to their plans for the village had been "positive".

"There hasn't bee a pub here for years, so this is a focal point for people to come to," he said.

Once they have their liquor licence they hope to be brewing by mid-summer having already invested in the expensive equipment.

Black Horse, Thurnham (10423659)
Black Horse, Thurnham (10423659)

They are currently operating led by Calvin at a brewery in Brixton, but have already marketed and sold their product.

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 socialisation, 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."

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

The business will 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.

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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