Our latest one to watch is Farm Yard Ales, an incredible brewery based on Moss Edge Farm, Cockerham. We chatted to Danny Ellidge to hear what they’re up to…
Let’s start with an easy question, how and why did Farm Yard Ales come to be?
Moss Edge Farm, where the brewery resides has been in Stevie’s (founder Steven Holmes) family for years and years with six generations of farmers coming before him. When it came time for Stevie to inherit the farm and make it his own, he soon realised that in today’s current climate it wasn’t going to be sustainable and he needed to come up with an alternative.
At the time, Stevie was already a keen homebrewer and the timing seemed perfect to take it to the next level, with his life savings on the line and a grant from the European agricultural fund for rural development. This little hobby that started in an outbuilding under the guise “Farm Yard of Ale” soon took shape into the beginnings of a fully-fledged craft brewery. Little under two years later the brewery has seen a growth of 280% in the last year alone. With an extension to the brewery and taproom 10 added months ago, Farm Yard Ales is growing at a rate of knots.
What is it like being based on a working farm? Does this present any challenges?
Life’s never boring on a farm, that’s for certain. There’s always something going on and you have to be prepared to get to get your hands mucky but, for the most part, a farm environment is perfect for what we need. Unlike a lot of breweries, here at Farm Yard Ales we are blessed with oodles and oodles of space which we can take full advantage of – keep your eyes peeled for music festivals and all sorts of other events coming up over the next year!
We take full advantage of what the farm has to offer, we take all of our spent grains 100 yards down from the brewery floor in order to feed our lovely cows a well-deserved hot meal! Sustainability is massive to us and to farm culture in general. We save energy in any way we can, use recycled materials as much as possible and even have our very natural water source on site. In the very near future, we have barrel aging programmes lined up and having the space to store it makes life so much easier. Plus, the view we get when we sit outside for a post work tipple is pretty cracking!
Your range is broken into Traditional and Progressive – why did you choose to separate them like this, and what can you tell us about each?
Where we reside, we’re surrounded by a lot of very traditional pubs and traditional drinkers; these are people from the community we reside in and we therefore wanted to provide them with a great quality local alternative to their normal drop. The traditional ales fit that bill and help us stay relevant in our community and celebrate the classic British styles of beer.
The progressive range are more modern beer styles that have a broad appeal to the modern drinker and having two different ranges helps introduce different drinkers to new products they might not have tried before. We have plenty of regulars that would have scoffed at cloudy beer a year ago that now go nuts for a hazy NEIPA and that’s what it’s all about!
You’ve released a collaboration beer with ShinDigger – what is it like to work with other brewers like this, and do you have plans for more collabs?
We work with ShinDigger on a weekly basis, with their style being a ghost brewery we take their recipes and brew them on a bigger scale for them which means we have a great working relationship with them. However, working together to come up with one beer is a different experience entirely. Seeing how people influence each other in order to achieve something that neither could achieve individually is a very exciting thing; who knows what you can come up with when you work with different people with different mindsets.
Now the brewery is expanding and growing so quickly we’ve brought in more like-minded beers boffins in order to grow relationships throughout the industry and a big part of that plan is to collaborate with other breweries. At the end of the day we just want to making belting beer with and for belting people!
The brewery has an on-site taproom, what can people expect if they come down for a pint (or two)?
The taproom was always an afterthought when the brewery was being designed and developed; after all, who’d come out to drink in the middle of the countryside? As it turns out, quite a lot of people! Our taproom overlooks the brewery floor which you’ll often find at the weekend clad with lights and Bavarian beer hall tables. We often have street food vendors, food trucks and live music with an average of 400 punters in attendance. It’s great to be able to offer such a unique experience to the community that have supported us so well. Now, in the next chapter of the taproom, we have Oktoberfest style events in the pipeline, Christmas markets and much much more. After all, beer is about having a good time so the more good times we can provide the better brewers we are in our opinion.
What’s in the pipeline for Farm Yard Ales? More beers, new equipment? Tell us what you’re upto…
We have another four tanks en route as we speak and they can’t get here fast enough as far as we’re concerned! We don’t believe in five-year plans here, after all the best laid plans of mice and men… Instead, we go with the flow and evolve to fit the needs around us and the people we meet along the way.
We’re working on more weird and wonderful specials: a mango and chilli wheat beer ‘Chango’ sits in the tank not 10 metres from where I’m sitting, not to mention the barrel-aged 11% imperial porter we have in the works for Christmas. We definitely plan to meet some like-minded brewers in order to work on new beers and ideas. As far as the brewery itself, we’ve got big plans for events to hold here and ways in which we can provide the community with a hub of great beer, creative thinking and good vibes.
Finally, is there anything you’d like to tell the Flavoury community about Farm Yard Ales?
Keep your eyes peeled. We’ve got big ambitions and the drive to back them up and if you ever see us knocking about, come and join us for a pint!
Interview by Kevin O’Donnell