Old Dairy Brewery, founded in 2009, seems to like a bit of tradition and nostalgia. It’s right next door to the Kent and East Sussex Steam Railway (and take it from me restored railways and cask ale are natural partners) and the brewery is housed in two World War II Nissen huts. Inside one there’s a 30-barrel brewery, producing around 16,000 of litres of beer a week, along with a shop, bar and meeting room, while the other contains the brewery’s offices and warehouse operations.
Sourcing most of its malt and hops from Kent it produces beers in cask and bottle, with a recently re-branded ‘core range’ (named for the colours of milk bottle tops as per the dairy theme) including a classic best bitter, a golden ale and an IPA.
Brewer Glenn Whatman (pictured left) came on board at Old Dairy in the summer of 2011, shortly after spending three months travelling around Asia and Australasia. He says he arrived back ‘penniless and in need of a job’ and began not as a brewer but a delivery driver. The brewery was on a roll though and soon he was plunged into other tasks such as racking, bottling, looking after the beer and, finally, brewing it.
“Working at and managing a few bars in my home town of Tenterden ignited my love for different types of beer and started my interest in how it’s made,” says Glenn.
“Then working under the supervision of Ed Wray and William Neame in the early years of Old Dairy cemented that. I feel really lucky I had the chance to learn from such great brewers.”
He’d also found inspiration on his travels, both in the mundane and extraordinary, explaining that in Asia the beers are mainly commercial, (‘anything light and thirst quenching will do’), but in New Zealand he found the craft beer movement in full swing.
“My favourite brewery was Yeastie Boys. I thought the name was great but their beer was even better.”
He went on to make his own New Zealand-inspired beer, using imported NZ hop variety Green Bullet, in a ‘brew shed’ he shares with a friend.
“It was the first beer I’ve ever been proud of. It went down well with my friends too!”
Old Dairy’s green hop beer is simply called Green Hop (4 %) and is made with traditional British variety Challenger grown locally by Hukins Hops at Haffenden Farm.
“The best thing about brewing a green hop beer, is the smell and colour of the freshly picked hops,” says Glenn. “The day as a whole is a manic rush as we try and get our hops in the beer as quick as we can, last year we managed it in 25 minutes!”
The info – where Glenn brews…
Old Dairy Brewery, Tenterden Station Yard, Station Road, Tenterden, Kent, TN30 6HE
Brewery shop: Open Monday to Friday, 10 am – 4 pm and Saturday, 10 am – 2 pm.
Brewery tours: Saturday mornings and Thursday afternoons – booking essential.