It’s a common misconception that Swindon lacks good watering holes.
Old Town is slowly, and finally, on the rise but you can feel there is something still missing.
For those familiar with the Red Lion in Cricklade, they’ve cast their umbrella wider to broaden their brand Hop Kettle Brewing Company.
If you’re like me, this is actually quite gutting if you’re not located too near the town. Who will be the designated driver? What’s the cheapest taxi?
Given my thirst for excellent brews and something different, I’ve happily made the journey and have never been disappointed.
These beer buffs have however raised the bar, with the introduction of their second brewery Hop Kettle Swindon.
Relatively new to the scene, the working brewery popped up in Hawksworth Industrial Estate late July.
Despite the grandeur of the warehouse with four shiny fermenters, beer barrels as far as the eye can see, and to my uneducated eye what looks like a scene from a sci-fi film, the team behind this operation are incredibly humble. And quite simply, they love beer (I mean, it’d be pretty weird if they didn’t).
Having gone in and quenched my thirst on a Saturday evening I was eager to find out more, so I met up with head brewer Tim Sherhod to chat about this exciting new venture.
Tim’s moved over from Hop Kettle Cricklade to man this unique fort, and there is much more at work here than meets the eye.
As well as their home beers being remarkable in taste much thought has gone into the production from unique and complimentary flavours, to local artists designing the labels.
Not only do Hop Kettle brew their own beer, they are also keen on collaboration. There’s no fear of the outside world, with their partnerships extending to the likes of London.
Tim summarises: “We like supporting local guys and being creative.
“It’s also about working with companies to make beer which compliments their food ingredients, culture and brand.”
There’s also no messing about. The process from start to finish all takes place in same room as the bar. The transaction can be as simple as going from bottling a beer to selling it on the same day.
The brewery reminds me of micro breweries in London, tucked away under railway arches. It’s these places that are evolving the bar environment, and how people engage with the culture of the venue and company.
Hop Kettle is no exception – as well as being a bar, it’s also an experience.
In my eyes Tim seems way to happy a man to be at work on a Monday. But as it turns out, dream jobs do exist!
Clearly running in the family, Tim’s dad was quite the home brewer which got him in the game early on. Now Tim runs a brewery along with Tom Gee, owner of Hop Kettle Brewing Company and the Red Lion.
Thinking this job is too good to be true (I’m wrong of course), Tim discloses how the duo are able to get creative with their brews, with the freedom of being able to make beers they like and push the boundaries to create something new and unique.
He explains: “People are growing in their taste for beer, and we want to encourage people to try new styles.“
As a Swindonian, I am thrilled.
With summer already a distant memory winter is, dare I say, coming.
Given the innovation and creativity put into the recipes, it’s of no surprise that these guys are already thinking outside the box.
As an open space, with only a shutter separating them from the outside world I’m intrigued to know the game plan for winter.
Tim paints me an in-the-works-picture of an outside beer garden inside, complete with parasols and heaters.
Not to get too excited but I’ve never been more eager for crap weather. I’m in!
Come spring, there’s talk of brisket and an evolving food menu, with beer festivals definitely on the cards in the foreseeable future.
Hop Kettle Swindon: Unit 4 Hawksworth Industrial Estate