A Good Pint Well Made
It’s no real secret that I have a soft spot for local producers who create something spectacular, and I’m lucky enough to travel around Devon and beyond in search of these wonderful folks. But I’ll tell you one thing – It’s thirsty work!
Fortunately, the ale industry has seen a resurgence over the past decade, and pace is quickening to deliver not just quantity but also a greater quality of beverages. Artisan-style brews, or ‘craft beers’, have found great appeal across generations as drinkers are enticed by more complex and well-rounded offerings. It’s not uncommon these days to encounter a beer menu that reads like a wine list, and I for one am happy about that.
During a mid-February trip in Poppy RustyBus along our north coast, I stopped to visit Toby Marsh and Gary Jarvis at the GT Ales brewery in Chivenor, near Barnstaple, where conversation flows as freely as the ale.
“Inspired by a love of American-style craft beers and some uninspiring British ales, we started home brewing several years ago.” Toby explains “Learning more and more as we went along, we finally bit the bullet and went commercial with bottles in September 2013, and casks from May last year.”
Now producing over 5,000 pints a month their operation is growing strong, appearing at food markets and beer festivals across Devon, including the recent Exeter & East Devon CAMRA Winter Ale Festival, and Uffculme & Mid Devon Beer Festival where they won the Champion Beer Award, voted for by the public.
It’s no surprise either, considering their approach towards creating their prize-winning ales. I admire the way they have built their business with passion, care, and attention to detail. “We experimented with undiscovered or forgotten hops and grains to create 4 well-balanced beers that appeal to a wide audience.” Gary tells me. “As a result, we’ve had interest from London and the North West to supply bottles and casks, and we’re also featuring in beer festivals across the country.”
“We strongly believe in supporting local businesses and get involved with as many local events as possible.” Toby says “Currently, we supply around 30 establishments across North Devon. We will be offering our products Devonwide in the immediate future, with the hope to grow further and eventually supply nationwide.”
I love that Gary and Toby have as much character as their beers, and they continue their wit into the names of their products – their debut creation was the aptly dubbed “Thirst of Many”. My personal favourite is their “Dark Horse”, a milk stout that is immensely quaffable, gently malty and perfectly aromatic, which is light on the palate despite it’s dark appearance. Their brews are available in bottles, casks and 10-litre boxes ideal for parties and barbecues. That’s my summer sorted.
Get in touch with GT Ales at www.gtales.co.uk.