South Hams brewery releasing 500th beer
PUBLISHED: 12:57 07 October 2020
Community-owned New Lion Brewery unveils its latest stout and reveals expansion plans
The New Lion Brewery, started by four partners in Totnes in 2013, is having an eventful seventh year. It moved from Totnes to larger premises at Webber’s Yard in Dartington, added three new staff, a bottle shop and taproom, began offering music events, became wholly-owned by the community through a crowdfunding share issue and will release its 500th brew, a stout named Ceremony, this autumn.
Stout has history in Totnes. Totnes Stout was a notable beer by the original Lion Brewery, which closed in 1926 after 75 years and at one time owned 26 pubs in the area.
New Lion Brewery has its own Totnes Stout. Martin Edmunds (Ed), the brewery manager, is keen to note that tradition is only a starting point. “We are definitely not traditionalists,” he declares. “We have traditional beers like Mane Event, an English session bitter, but we know we can’t stand still. Jac (Jacek Ziegler), the head brewer, is all for trying new things.”
The permanent range of Mane Event, Pandit IPA and Totnes Stout is augmented by ‘white label’ beers – one-off brews of about 20 cases - with a new flavour every six to eight weeks. “We used to do them when we had time, now we make the time,” Ed says. Recently the Earl Grey-infused Tea Q9 sold out in two weeks. “Having a popular taproom, home delivery and our bottle shop, whatever we make sells out. You have to get in quick!” Ed advises.
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The home delivery service is a product of the pandemic. Fortnightly on Thursdays, a range of single bottles, cases and ‘growlers’ – two- and four-litre metal mini-kegs filled from the tap – are delivered within a ten-mile range of the brewery. Though demand has reduced since lockdown ended, home delivery is still viable and will be continued.
NLB prizes its local connections. Its Hop Club members grow hops that flavour Local Hero ale, South Devon Chilli Farm chillies put the sting into Scorpion chilli beer and there is a symbiotic relationship with neighbours Almond Thief artisan bakery.
In November 2019 NLB became entirely owned by 270 shareholder members of the Lionshare crowdfunding offer. The £176,204 raised enabled the move to Dartington and refurbishment of the brewery equipment and premises. “It allows us to think about how the brewery can grow and progress,” says Ed. Shareholders, including your writer, get a discount on beer, a handsome stem glass and a T-shirt for an elite-on-Fore Street look.
Music returned in August, DJ-led and outdoors until the refurbishment is complete. “We do it because we like bringing people together, we are all music fans and have fun organising the events,” says Ed.
New Lion’s brews can be found in bottle shops and selected pubs between Plymouth and Exeter. An American-style pale ale is coming soon and Ceremony Stout will be released to comfort Devonians when the weather turns cold.
White labels and rarities – some of NLB’s limited edition brews
Little and Large: featuring the comedy duo on the label, a pair of beers made from the same hops and malt. Little is a 2.9%, light with dry fruit aroma, while Large is a mighty 7.7%, fuller on the palate.
The Ultimate Triumvirate: a ‘saison’ beer (Belgian style) using spelt grown in Totnes, transferred to Sharpham Vineyard wine barrels and augmented by wild cider yeast from Devon cidery Find and Foster. It has a flavoursome array of fruit and herbal character and a bone-dry mouthfeel.
Tea Q9: a pale beer made with locally-sourced Maris Otter malt, Cascade hops and Earl Grey tea from Devonshire, the perfect refreshing summer pint.
Circular Stout: brewed for the 2014 Totnes Local Entrepreneur Forum, infused with oyster mushrooms produced by GroCycle, grown on coffee grounds mixed with spent hops and grains. The circular economy in a glass!
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