Prescott moves into the fast lane
SALES of ales made by a Cheltenham microbrewery are accelerating to new heights after the team that makes them sampled the sweet taste of success in a national beer competition.
Prescott Brewery, named in honour of the famous motor racing track, won a gold award at the Society of Independent Brewers national beer competition 2012 for its Hill Climb pale ale.
Shortly afterwards, the father and daughter team who run the business were approached by the national pub company Punch Taverns with the offer of a place on their "winners' rotation" of champion beers.
This has led to Prescott Brewery almost trebling its production to satisfy the demand from Punch, as well as supplying its regular customers in Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Wiltshire and Bristol.
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"Within eight weeks we will have produced as much beer as we did in six months last year," said Jo Meader, who runs the business with her dad, Graham, from the Bramery Business Park in Cheltenham.
"The order from Punch that followed our success in the SIBA competition has almost trebled production. We are currently producing enough beer to supply its 950 pubs over a two-month period and, if Hill Climb is a hit with its customers, this could lead to a regular order. "
Graham said the gold award, which makes Hill Climb the national champion standard bitter for 2012, helps Prescott Brewery to stand out among the large number of microbreweries that have been set up in recent years.
"There were 500 when we started and there are now more than 800 in operation throughout the UK."
"The award for Prescott Hill Climb really does set us apart from the competition.
"Economic conditions are tough right now for all kinds of businesses and brewing is no exception, although microbreweries represent one sector of the alcoholic drinks industry that is growing."
Prescott's meteoric rise is all the more remarkable given that the brewery was only founded three years ago.
Its national award followed the company's success in the regional Wales and West competition in 2011 and for Graham, the accolades recognise the persistence, passion and enthusiasm of his team, along with the quality ingredients used to create their ales.
"At Prescott Ales we are on a constant drive to produce beers of impeccable flavour and quality," he said.
Ingredients used in its beers include Maris Otter and wheat malts, which are used for the basic brew, along with a careful blend of English and American hops, such as Styrian Goldings and Cascade, which are added later on to produce distinctive tastes and aromas.
The exact combination of these ingredients is skilfully overseen by head brewer James Bubb, who previously worked for the award-winning Skinners' brewery in Cornwall.
"The American hops are big on flavour and give our beer floral and citrus notes," said James, 29, who has been brewing for around seven years.
"Hill Climb pale ale has been steadily building a loyal following among the region's drinkers.
"The award from SIBA and the order from Punch Taverns are going to encourage a lot more people across the UK to sample Prescott Hill Climb. I just hope we can keep up with demand!"
For James, the beauty of Cheltenham and the Cotswolds, along with the opportunity to head a brewing team, have put paid to any homesickness he might feel for his home county.
"I always said it would take a lot to take me away from Cornwall but I just love it here," said James, who regularly puts on tours of the brewery.
Prescott Brewery takes its name from the Prescott Hill Climb Track just north of Cheltenham, which has been providing a challenging circuit for classic cars and motorcycles since 1938.
Jo lives near the famous track, owned by the UK's Bugatti Owners' Club, and the names of all of the beers produced by the brewery, together with the Art Deco-inspired images of cars used on its labels and pump handles, are inspired by it.
The light and refreshing Hill Climb pale ale, at 3.8 ABV, is joined throughout the year by the full bodied best bitter Track Record, at 4.4 ABV, and the powerful dark ale Grand Prix, at 5.2 ABV. In addition, there are four seasonal ales.
"The thing I'm really proud of is that our ales draw attention to a place in which I live, and that I love," said Jo, whose products are sold at racing meets.
"Prescott Hill is a magnificent spot – an outstanding area of natural beauty – and we're proud of our association with the racing track."
â Prescott Ales will be attending the Gloucester Motor Show next Saturday and Sunday and Cheltenham Food Festival on June 16-17. Visit www.prescottales.co.uk