HALSTEAD’S MP and the leader of Essex County Council visited the East of England’s only community owned brewery.

The small, but perfectly formed, PumpHouse Community Brewery in Toppesfield is celebrating 18 months since it opened.

MP James Cleverly and David Finch took a tour of the site.

Owned by 78 community shareholders and managed by volunteers, under the guidance of brewer, Phil Snowdon, the site is already building a fine reputation.

Chair of the PumpHouse Brewery, Alan Collard, said:“During our first full year we produced the equivalent of 426 firkins of beer. That is about 30,000 pints and represents almost 60 pints for each parishioner!”

He explained that the majority had been sold to the adjacent community owned pub, the Green Man. “It has always been our intention to supply affordable, high quality beers for the benefit of the local community. Fortunately the customers like them.”

“In addition to the staple beers produced – Tap, Gold, Plough Dog and Black – during the year we also saw one-off brews such as Jenny, VIPA and Little Freckled Wren. We also introduced a new beer, Pale Oktober. Although brewed by Phil for the Oktoberfest, the beer has proved so popular that it is still being regularly brewed. We are now on a stable footing and have begun to supply a small number of local pubs - just this week we have had orders from three nearby pubs.”

“Most of our beers are available in bottles - and the Brewery is now open on Saturday mornings, from 10 until 12, for off-sales. We have supplied seven weddings, six beer festivals and many birthday parties and private functions.”

Today we are releasing a special limited edition beer in support of Red Nose Day, ‘Little Red Hooter’. We very much hope that our two distinguished guests will be our first customers!”

After visiting the brewery and meeting the team, Cllr Finch said “Toppesfield has always set a high standard for the quality of its community enterprises. It is after all Essex Village of the Year. The PumpHouse Brewery is a great example of what can be achieved in our rural communities with the support and encouragement of local government. It makes positive use of a village owned asset, it provides volunteering opportunities for many people and, of course, it produces really excellent beer.”

“The brewery's storage area is in need of improvement. Building works are currently under way, part funded by the Essex County Council’s Community Initiatives Fund. I am delighted that we at Essex C.C. are supporting the venture. Having seen the brewery for myself and met the team, I am confident that the future for the PumpHouse Brewery looks good.”