THE first new ‘pub’ in generations is to be opened in Wiveliscombe in time for people to enjoy a beer while watching this season’s Six Nations Rugby tournament.

Nuttycombe Brewery, which launched in the town in May, 2022, is to open a ‘tap room’ on its premises in Ford Road.

‘Tap rooms’ are where traditionally breweries have served pints directly to their customers.

A private opening will take place on Wednesday (January 31) for guests to try the brewery’s award-winning range of beers.

The ‘tap room’, to be called Hancock’s Dray, will then be open for the international rugby tournament, which kicks-off on February 2 with France against reigning champions Ireland, followed the next day by Italy v England and Wales v Scotland.

A horse-drawn dray from the days of the former Cotleigh Brewery, in Wiveliscombe.
A horse-drawn dray from the days of the former Cotleigh Brewery, in Wiveliscombe.

The brewery was founded by friends Ross Nuttycombe, from Watchet, who had 20 years of experience as a publican, and Simon Brown, who also had a long history in the pub industry, and together they bought part of the former Cotleigh brewery premises.

Nuttycombe has since flourished under the guidance of former Cotleigh head brewer Shaun Vockins and new assistant brewer Joel Hancock, a direct descendant of the original Hancock family who founded the Hancock brewery in Golden Hill, Wiveliscombe, in the early 1800s.

Mr Nuttycombe and Mr Brown discovered one of the traditional horse-drawn drays while renovating the property and also found handwritten recipes for original Cotleigh beers which they were able to produce to award-winning standards with Mr Vockins’ expertise.

Brewing has been an integral part of Wiveliscombe since William Hancock founded his brewery in Golden Hill in the 19th century.

Legend has it that there were once no fewer than 33 pubs in the town, and Hancock’s horse-drawn drays were a regular sight as they supplied customers as far as 25 miles away.

There was a decline in the 1960s until brewing resumed in 1980 with both Golden Hill Brewery and Cotleigh setting up.

Golden Hill later became Exmoor Ales, while Cotleigh became a casualty of the Covid pandemic and closed its doors in 2021.

Nuttycombe’s debut brew Sovereign was released for the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and was well received, with subsequent beers Doonican’s and Snow Leopard respectively going on to take gold and silver medals at SIBA’s Tuckers Maltingsfest, in Newton Abbot, last April.

The brewery has also recently also received an inquiry to supply 15,000 bottles of Old Buzzard to Sweden.

When Weston-super-Mare brewery Pitchfork closed nearly a year ago, Nuttycombe stepped in to buy the rights to its brands, including award-winning beers Pitchfork Ale, Old Slug Porter, and East Street Cream, to ensure they remained available for the nation’s beer connoisseurs.

These thoughts prompted Mr Nuttycombe and Mr Brown to open their ‘tap room’ to showcase their three brands.

There will be a big-screen facility to show sports such as the Six Nations Rugby, as well as evenings with live music, which were popular in the past when hosted by Cotleigh.