An interview with founder Luke Herman
Why did you set up The Crafty Brewing Company?
Mainly for fun as I love brewing but the real kick was that people loved the beers, I was getting orders for the home-brews I was making and I fancied contributing something to the local beer offerings!
Personally, what are your own experiences and history with beer?
I developed a passion for brewing beer at uni and continued to brew with all sorts of random ingredients (Fuchsia fruits, nettles, bread, honey) when working in various countries overseas (Ghana, Kenya, Chile).
What’s it like brewing on a farm in the Surrey Hills? Does farm life inspire your beer? Do you stick to traditional routes?
Yes absolutely. History of the landscape and traditional brewing methods have always resonated with me. Using local ingredients, other than the staple hops, grains, water and yeast are something I enjoy. Farm-life in the Surrey Hills has led to the use of a fox for our logo – although relations between the foxes and my chickens have always been a little tricky. The rare-breed pigs I keep next-door to the brewery enjoy munching their way through the piles of grains, hops and yeast the brewing process throws out. It’s also a very nice place to enjoy a beer at the end of the day!
Tell us about your beer? Is there a certain style of name you look for? What’s the most popular?
The most popular is Loxhill Biscuit although Crafty One is really starting to catch-up after its release a few months ago. Not so much a style of name as a suitable name; Loxhill is the tiny little area outside of Dunsfold where we’re based and biscuit is my favourite malt, Dunsfold Best, Crafty One and Heady Steady Go just seemed fun.
What are your ambitions for the brewery? Are these different from when you started? How have you evolved?
The evolution and growth of the brewery has been fun. Starting in a shed, I managed to get hold of an old lorry body someone wanted rid of and I converted that into a nano-brewery. This housed everything from the Brewhouse, fermenters, bottling line, hops and grains. It was a squeeze, pretty hot but fun to work in once I got used to doing the grab-walk each day. The only thing I lacked in there was a cold-store and this problem was solved by using on old bomb-shelter leftover from the Canadians who lived there before my time and ran the aerodrome where they now film Top-Gear. Since then we moved into an old-stable block on the same site but this soon became too small and we’ve spilled out into multiple unit’s spread-out amongst the trees. The next stage is to apply for planning (currently in progress) at the site and house everything under one roof.
How far do you distribute Crafty Brewing Beers beer? Will you ship anywhere?
Our main catchment area is a radius of 30 miles around the brewing which, at its tips, reaches Bracknell, Basingstoke, Chichester, Brighton, Crawley, Croydon and closer to home: Haslemere, Dunsfold, Godalming, Guildford, Dorking, Woking, Petworth, Midhurst, Bramley, Cranleigh, Horsham. At the same time, we’re slowly but surely making tracks in South-East and South-West London. But we have now made two exports to Italy!
What do you want people to think and feel when they drink your beer?
Mostly to simply enjoy it and relax. It’s an item of entertainment and enjoyment and should be used as a companion to good times. It would be nice if people remembered where it came from too as there are legion of fine breweries out there and all have their own stories. The story of our beer is that it’s come from a beautiful home, born from only four very fresh and wholesome ingredients that are put together carefully and with love each day in the woods come rain or shine.
Any big plans in the pipeline?
Well, back in May we completed the build of our new purpose-built brew house and cold store so we're set for significant growth. 2019 has been a very exciting year and we intend to make 2020 our best year yet.
Anything else you’d like to add or would like to see in the feature?
We were very proud to win a Gold Award at the 2016 SIBA South-East Region Beer Competition for Dunsfold Best and then again another SIBA Gold for Hop Tipple IPA in 2017. We are also looking forward to inviting members of the public to try some tasty pork and beer while enjoying the sunset opposite the brewery