A right royal start for new brewery in Wiveliscombe

By Rupert Winchester   |   Reporter   |
Thursday 30th June 2022 6:00 am
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WHEN Cotleigh Brewery in Wiveliscombe closed its doors in 2021, it seemed that the town was going to lose its semi-legendary status as having more breweries than pubs.

Cotleigh, which had been in operation since 1979, was finally forced to cease trading due to the effects of the Covid pandemic, leaving only the Exmoor Brewery and the pub-based Black Bear Brewery in town.

But enter Watchet-based publican Ross Nuttycombe and his nascent Nuttycombe Brewery, and the ratio has tipped back in favour of breweries rather than pubs.

Ross, who has lived in Watchet for 20 years, runs the popular Star Inn in the town. He bought the old Cotleigh premises and equipment earlier this year and brewing restarted on the site in May.

Nuttycombe’s first brew coincided with the Queens Platinum Jubilee and was named Sovereign: using the sovereign hop and a pale malt they produced the light ale at 4.3 per cent abv as a one-off special.

Asked why he was willing to chance his arm in what is seemingly a risky business, Ross said: “There were a number of things, really. I was looking for something to do that would really excite me, and I do love nice ale.

“And Cotleigh was the first brewery I visited when I came down here. And finally, Cotleigh opened up in the year I was born. So it seemed kind of fated.”

The brewery is a hive of activity, with barrels rolling across wet concrete floors, forklift trucks carrying sacks of malt and everywhere the rich earthy aroma of hops.

Currently Ross employs seven people, but expects to increase that to around 15, producing 500,000 litres of beer a year.

Ross is very excited about increasing the sustainability of the site. “It’s difficult, because these are old buildings, but we’re doing everything we can.

“We source our suppliers from as close as possible and only use suppliers who use plastic-free packaging. We are also investing in recycling of our cleaning systems water and massively reducing the amount of waste water discharged into the public drains. We aim to use only ‘grey water’ for flushing our toilets and for washing our vehicles.”

Used hops are given to a local farmer for animal feed.

The major problem at the moment is finding electric delivery vehicles. He said: “I can’t find them anywhere. And with the price of diesel at he moment…”

Ross, however, does not look daunted. “We’re going to make some great beer here. I cannot wait.”

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