Plans are in hand to create one of the country’s the most exciting breweries in an ancient priory barn at West Acre leading to the creation of 22 new jobs.
Behind the project is the Duration Brewing Company, run by husband-and-wife team, Derek Bates and Miranda Hudson, who at present live in London but who are intending to open the brewery next year in a 16th century stone barn on the West Acre Estate.
Derek, who moved to the UK since leaving the US in 2009, has extensive brewing knowledge. They are already releasing beers in collaboration with friends who brew commercially. Said Miranda: “We want to build our name and get people excited about what we want to do. Our site needed a little longer in the planning and development since it is a scheduled monument site, so releasing our beers beforehand seemed to be a smart way to build our brand recognition and showcase our talent a litte.”
It was through a friend from Norfolk, Ella Malt, that they came upon the building. “She made introductions to a few landowners with disused barns and we went from there,” said Miranda. “We settled on West Acre for the aesthetic, it ticked the boxes in terms of being a working farm, there is good flora in the immediate surrounds and the River Nar is right on site. Landlord Alec Birkbeck fully understood what we were trying to do and wanted a tenant like us to develop his barn into a working asset.”
Having just gained the necessary planning and building consents, the next step will be to order and install equipment and during the next six months work will be carried out on the barn.
“We will create 22 jobs over five years on the brewery side. We have selected equipment that will allow us to run with a small team in the early days and we want to recruit locally where possible. We have already met with two local people for our first hires and hope to offer apprenticeships, and employment for skilled and unskilled workers in full, part-time and seasonal work,” said Miranda.
Said Derek: “Using local grains, Nar water and yeast from the national yeast bank in Norfolk and right off the farm, I want to cultivate a sense of time and location in my beer to make a drink that is bound to its origins.”