Most small breweries start out by a happy accident. The right people meet, at the right time, in the right place. The Milton Brewery is no exception, save for the fact that the accident took place in Pakistan, in 1996, and at the time nobody could have imagined the consequences for the beer drinkers of Cambridge.
Tony Brooks and I met in the small town of Gilgit, high in the Karakorum mountains and five hundred miles from the nearest beer. Islamic Pakistan is a curious place for the genesis of a brewery, but Tony and I became good mates as we nursed his bike after it fell apart in a nasty crash in the mountains.
A couple of years later, fed up with the jobs we were doing, we managed to get chatting (once again) about my favourite subject - beer. It has long been an ambition of mine to set up a brewery, and with Tony it looked like I had found the ideal business partner. All we needed to do now was find the money, the location, the premises, the plant, the customers...
It is now over a year later and we're in full commercial production. We have a 15 barrel plant in a small industrial unit in Milton. The building and all the equipment has been designed by ourselves, mostly from secondhand and reconditioned vessels. Tonnes of finest Maris Otter malt and packs of freshest hops are turning the recipes, that for years I have carried around in my imagination, into commercial reality.
The mechanics of setting up a small brewery from scratch seem initially daunting. Before you ever get to play with the glorious mechanics of a sparge arm, an underback or a pre-masher, the brewery itself has to be built; which means learning how to be a passable brickie, carpenter, plumber, electrician... all before you get a sniff of the hops.
For us the hard work of building the brewery is coming to an end. Now comes the hard work of making and selling the beer, but at last we are doing what we set out to achieve and fine ales should be the result. Judge for yourselves. Milton Brewery beers should be available at a pub near you.
Pegasus (4.1% ABV) was released on 20th August, followed by Jupiter (3.5%), Cyclops (5.3%) and Minotaur (3.3%), a Mild. The "Millennium" beer will be Mammon (7.0%).