As promised, I made a visit to Tonbridge’s latest brewery, Constellation and, despite the unseasonably cold start to May managed to enjoyed a couple of the company’s beers, out on the newly installed outdoor decking area, at the front of the brewery.
I left my visit until late Monday afternoon, having taken advantage of the late appearance of the threatened Bank Holiday rain. Despite the rain staying away, there was a cold north-westerly wind blowing, but I managed to more or less finish what I’d set out to achieve in the garden, before heading out for a few well-earned pints.
The physical activities of digging, raking, and mowing kept me reasonably warm, but I knew that once I stopped moving, and sat down I would start to feel the cold. Mrs PBT’s called me a wuss for adding an additional layer of clothes – not that she’d set foot outside all day, but I was certainly glad that I did.
It’s quite a boring walk down to the industrial area where Constellation have set up shop, and the access road sandwiched in between one of the area’s largest haulage contractors and the town’s sewage works, is not particularly inviting, but according to my Smart Watch, it was less than a couple of miles – and that included a small detour to pick up some milk, from a local convenience store.
As I made my way passed the brewery entrance, a chap came out to greet me and to hand me a beer menu. He turned out to be head brewer Rob, and he apologized for the rather noisy, but good spirited group, who were members of his extended family.
There were two cask and four keg beers on offer, so to start with at least, I opted for one of the cask beers. Indus IPA – Session Ale, pale in colour, well-conditioned and with nice refreshing, hoppy “bite” to it, turned out to be a good opening choice. It was very reasonably priced too, at just £3.40 a pint.
Rob has 10 years’ experience working at another Kent brewery. I won’t give the game away by naming it, but it isn’t in the immediate vicinity, and it isn’t one you might expect.
Barry’s background is in technical services and refrigeration, especially in relation to cellar services for pubs, bars, and restaurants. He will also be learning more about the brewing side, combining this with his cellar experience, to ensure that the final product will be poured to perfection.
Specialist companies, that take care of a pub or bars’ cellar requirements, are starting to emerge in both the UK and the Irish Republic. My brother-in-law and I had a discussion on the need for such a service, as we sat in an Ohio bar one afternoon, wondering how it managed to stock such a large range of beers, and keep them all in good condition.
I imagine this is the sort of service Rob’s business partner, Barry provides. Doing this, could also provide a convenient shoe-in, for Constellation beers.
I opted for something different for my second beer, choosing the brewery’s 4.7% Hydra Lager. Priced at £4.00, it was a thirst-quenching, full-bodied beer, constructed around a firm malt base. I mentioned to Rob that it reminded me a Czech Pilsner, and he replied that such a beer was exactly what he’d been aiming for.
At the moment, the brewery is still testing the market, and finding its way. There are six core beers, and these will be complemented by seasonal and other more adventurous brews, as things progress. They are certainly a welcome addition to the local beer scene, and this especially applies to their taproom.
I wish them well!