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Stroud Brewery, Maris Otter Vintage Ale 2013

Greg Pilley’s father was an engineer. His job took him and his family all over the world and Greg still reckons that it was life in an expat community, with a social scene that revolved around barbecues and drinking, that sparked his early interest in beer.

Whilst working in Nigeria managing a wildlife conservation project with the Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) he had the idea of writing a book. After successfully pitching it to Guinness he spent 5 years researching traditional drinks of Africa and how all threads of life are linked by the social exchange over a beer. Not a bad gig if you can get it.

When Greg got back home to Blighty he got a job at the Soil Association in Stroud, writing a technical guide on how to set up local vegetable box schemes. But one day, whilst weeding and chatting to his friend Andy, he started to think about how he could bring brewing back to Stroud.

A few years later that dream would become a reality. The original Stroud Brewery had shut in 1969 but Greg, helped along by a £13,000 local loan scheme, would start a new brewery using the same name in 2006.

This is a brewery that wears its values on its sleeve. Along with a bucket load of good stuff that the brewery does locally, their standout policy is to never supply any supermarket chains which “with remote shareholders have primarily an economic interest which draws on social and environmental capital”... hear, hear.

Their commitment to all things local is demonstrated rather marvellously by this week’s beer. Cotswolds farmers produce some of the highest quality malting barleys in the UK. Stroud Brewery has used the only available organically grown Maris Otter, regarded as the queen of brewing barleys, and packed lots of it into this 7.5% single malt, single hopped ale.

Boozy, complex and malt forward, it’s designed to be sipped and paired with a strong cheddar. Because that’s obviously what you need right now… more cheese. Happy New Year.

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