On the blog we are taking a deeper look at our national winners, and what it is that makes them so special. Next week will see our final winners profile posted, so check back then!
The winner of the Best Rural Drink Business Award is Hillside Brewery! This Gloucestershire-based brewery and events business impressed the judges with its clever and creative diversification, as well as its innovative ways of maximizing customer engagement. Its sustainable ethos and support of other local businesses truly made it stand out.
Hillside Brewery is a family-owned-and-run business, passionate about their award-winning range of traditional beers and one-off craft specials. Situated on a 40-acre farm in a converted dairy shed and reconditioned stone barns, the brewery is a great place to spend an afternoon. In fact, since opening in 2014 they have had over 25,000 people visit the site.
Hillside Brewery are committed to producing the highest quality beer possible, and to date have won almost 50 awards. Their Classic Ales are great proven styles of beer and are brewed all year round, while their Craft Specials are constantly changing using seasonal and new ingredients to produce new flavours.
They source their ingredients as locally as possible with the majority of our hops coming from just 18-miles away. Even closer to home, they have brewed a golden 4% elderflower beer, with hand-picked elderflowers from their own farm.
The business has diversified, creating a “destination” based around the brewery. Hillside now runs events, tours and experience days, which have been voted as some of the best in the country.
Visitors can take a tour of the brewery learning about how beer is made – and getting to taste it too! The site hosts weddings, stag and hen dos, and corporate hire and team building, as well as a range of festivals and other events.
There’s also a variety of experiences on offer in partnership with other local businesses – beer pilates, anyone? Or how about battlezone archery and bubble football? Or forging your own bespoke bottle opener, followed by a brewery tour? Whatever your interests, there’s truly something for everyone.
Hillside Brewery are also passionate about supporting other local businesses. In addition to their beers, the on site shop stocks a range of local wines, spirits, ciders, local beer-related woodwork and a beer soap (made with their own beer). All of which have been sourced from within 30-miles of the brewery.
They encourage their visitors to use other local businesses and producers where appropriate, bringing business to local hotels and self-catering accommodation providers in particular. They also support their local community by providing an events space, hosting everything from pop up pubs and wood-turners, to morris dancers, charity events and more. Their events again rely on local produce, including sausages, bread and ice cream all made with their beer!
Hillside Brewery strives to produce beer with a conscience, and sustainability is at the heart of their business. The business is run on solar power, and air and ground source heat pumps – it is now a net exporter of energy. All of the water used to produce their beer comes from their on-site 60m-deep bore hole – this provides a consistent, mineral rich source of water, perfect for beer. In addition, Hillside have been selected by the Co-Op as one of only 6 suppliers to be included in the Happerley traceability scheme.
As for the future, Hillside Brewery will continue to create innovative, refreshing beers, as well as to develop and expand the experiences and activities the offer. They also plan to further diversify the farm, with the potential for accommodation currently in the planning stages.
“We are proud to have won the national Rural Business Award for the Best Rural Drink Business. Hillside Brewery is a family-run business, passionate about the ales we make, our use of local ingredients, and our links to the local community. Businesses like ours are vital to support rural communities, and we’ve loved being part of the Rural Business Awards, which celebrate such a wide variety of rural businesses.” – Peter Williamson, Director
To find out more about Hillside Brewery, visit: www.hillsidebrewery.com
To see all the blogs in this series on the winners of the 2018/19 National Rural Business Awards, click here.