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Sussex Life visits the Turner family and their micro-brewery in Ringmer

PUBLISHED: 12:09 01 April 2014 | UPDATED: 12:15 01 April 2014

Turners Brewery

Turners Brewery

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The Turner family has been farming near Ringmer for five generations. Now the farm is the site of a micro-brewery too

Situated on the outskirts of the idyllic village of Ringmer is the hidden gem Highfield Farm, where the Turner family started a brewery two years ago. “The whole concept started in November 2010, with Kester Riley and myself, Kes Travers. We began by preparing our business plan, visiting other breweries and learning from scratch how to brew,” explains Kes. “All of 2011 was dedicated to preparation, raising finance, developing our first recipes and we didn’t start selling until March 2012.”

Kes is now one of the brewers, directors and delivery drivers. “I’m involved in every aspect, from cleaning out the fermenting vessels, delivering beer, creating new and exciting recipes, to designing and building new equipment to constantly improve our products. We are a genuine family brewery with my father Les Travers as head brewer. He is assisted by an apprentice, Aaron Guy, who is from the village and is currently undertaking a college course at Plumpton, as well as the BrewLab course with aspirations to become a master brewer. I also have a business partner and old school friend Kester Riley, who has built the brewery with me from scratch, and continues to help with marketing, sales, finances and the dreaded admin. Another local, Jayne-Anne helps us ring all our customers, and finally we have our sales representative, John Levey from Brighton, who left his manager’s position in J D Wetherspoon to join us last year.”

Both Kester and Kes wanted to work for themselves and create something they could be proud of. They wanted to create something that people enjoyed, wanted to be involved in and could be part of the community. “At Highfield Farm, Bob and Colin Turner welcomed us with open arms when we were looking for storage in 2010. Over the months that followed it was apparent that the farm needed to diversify as it had taken a beating from things like foot and mouth, and needed to have something to back it up,” explains Kes. “This is where the inspiration for a brewery stems from, a central hub we could build that would develop the farm with a shop and smoke house alongside the traditional butchers.”

Today Turners Brewery has eight beers covering most real ale styles. They also produce three exclusive beers, two for J D Wetherspoon and one for The Bedford in Tunbridge Wells. “We are just about to launch our first lagers, too. Our most popular product is our Ruby Mild. Originally only planned as a seasonal beer, we had to keep producing to satisfy the demand,” explains Kes. “Last year was our first proper year of brewing on our own site. In our first year we brewed well over 250,000 pints of beer and this is rising fast – we are hoping to double this with the new beers and lagers.”

Apart from the delicious taste, Turners Brewery have designed eye-catching labels. “The distinctive cog shape was inspired by my engineering background as a 
Royal Naval Submariner, and further developed with the concept of ‘Time for a Turners’ and the cogs found in clocks,” says Kes. “And the colour of the label reflects the shade of the beer itself. Personally my favourite beer is the Ruby. So drinkable!”

Turners Brewery has a very exciting future ahead: “We have just launched four new beers with limited edition brewers Craft Range, to be released over the coming months. An exciting development is the brewing of two lagers. We have also installed new equipment to allow us to keg our beers as well as cask them. Another brand new release is our very own ginger beer, made using only fresh ingredients with no additives or flavourings. A traditional alcoholic ginger beer at 4.6%,” describes Kes. “We also make customised beers, including wedding bottles with bespoke pump clips or labels.”

The farm has a small herd of cattle and supplies the traditional farm butchers at Highfield. “As a treat these cows are fed our used grains from the brewing process, which they come running for. I’m never too sure where to stand when 30 tonnes of cattle run towards you, I always make sure I’ve got an escape route!” explains Kes. “Early one morning there was a robbery at the brewery. One of the lovely cows decided she couldn’t wait for us to bring her a treat, so she walked through the brewery door and helped herself. Having done that, she simply turned around and joined her less well-fed friends. We now have a better security system in place!”

If you’d like to sample the beers, visit www.turnersbrewery.com, or you can buy direct from them at the farm. “We always welcome visitors and will show you round the brewery at the same time,” says Kes. “Our beers can also be found at most of the J D Wetherspoon pubs in Sussex, as well as many freehouses and off licences in the area. We also have a pretty unique test kit, which we affectionally call the ‘train set’, where we can make test brews or brew on site, giving talks or brewing beers for people outside the brewery.”

Turners Brewery, Highfield Farm, The Broyle, Ringmer BN8 5AR; 0845 689 2689; www.turnersbrewery.com

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