One mild Saturday morning in April I got up and drove into the Warwickshire countryside, where nestled away amid beautiful rolling yellow fields and rickety red brick buildings is an incredibly interesting story to be told.
I arrived at my destination where there were dogs running around in the lane, cows mooing off in the distance, chickens pecking in the grass and ducks snoozing by the pond.
Sounds like Old MacDonald’s farm right? Well this beautiful little place – this incredibly peaceful and quaint slice of English countryside – is in fact the base of Purity Brewing Co.
I was invited for a tour as part of the new Expedia Brewery Map which has been created by beer expert Melissa Cole: Purity has made the grade as one of the top 15 regional breweries in the UK to visit. I’m not quite sure what I had expected, but the idyllic farm set up wasn’t it. I guess because Purity was founded in 2005 and is therefore a relatively new craft brewery, I was picturing something more industrial looking. I soon learned that in contrast to the character buildings, the operation itself is anything but old fashioned.
We were greeted by our tour guide John, who gave us an incredibly warm welcome and led us into a small bar where we joined the other tour guests, who were all well stuck into their pints already.
We had a choice of a pint or a half. Q and I conservatively chose a half out of tactics; knowing we were about to embark on a 2 hour tour! John insisted that we kicked things off with their very first beer: ‘Pure Gold’.
We started the tour drinking around tables and listening to John (amid a few toilet breaks for the pint drinkers!) tell us all about the beginnings of Purity and the ethos behind the brand. I found myself learning a lot that I didn’t know about beer; for example I didn’t know that beer brewing was quite environmentally damaging. I could identify that there’s a lot of wastage in the spent hops and grains once you have what you need from them, but what I didn’t appreciate was the consumption of water. Did you know it takes on average six pints of water to create just one pint of beer? That’s insane! One of the main messages behind Purity is ‘brewing beer with a conscience’ and through more sustainable practices, they can make a pint of their beer with only 3 pints of water.
And the beer? Well it doesn’t suffer from the missing three pints, that’s for sure. The original Pure Gold is very light and refreshing with honey and citrus flavours and minimal bitter notes. It catches the light beautifully and John encouraged us all to hold our glasses up and appreciate the golden glow that reflects off the liquid.
Kinda ‘fluffy’ stuff for the beer drinking stereotype you might think? But this is another ethos behind Purity that we were told about: they want to create beers with more culture. John raised a very valid point that beer can be just as complex as wine: so why not pair them with food? Their modern way of thinking extends to creating products which appeal to a more diverse audience of younger people and females. How refreshing! I think I’m good evidence of their success: as you know I’m primarily a cider girl but here I was enjoying an ale just as much as a scrumpy.
Saying that, there was still a very clear demographic on the tour!
There’s a wonderful cereal smell as you enter the grain stores.
The whole brewery is a pretty slick place: very clean and tidy with lots of immaculate silver towers and containers. We stopped by the store of hops where we picked some out and gave them a good inspection and smell. Amazingly, the kind that Purity use smell just like mangoes! I could instantly see where those fruity notes in the Pure Gold came from.
Next we were taken to the wetlands.
This is where they cut down on those three pints or water. This is an incredible man-made system of numerous ponds staggered downhill. Here the waste water from the brewing process is discarded and as it filters through the banks into each pond, is cleaned. How bloody clever. This is when you know a brand isn’t just paying lip service to sustainability. The wildlife seems to like it too: we had dragonflies darting all around us as we listened to John.
Down in this part of the tour the mooing of the cows was louder than ever and we got a special detour to visit them!
Beautiful longhorns! Reducing waste again, the cows are fed the spent grain and hops, meaning the cows get a tasty meal and when it comes to slaughter? Well, we get a tasty meal too.
We finished the tour back at the bar where we got free rein to pick from the beers on offer. The selection of seven is small and personal with each beer having a story behind it. Q chose a pint of ‘Mad Goose’ which is quite literally named after a very angry goose which used to live on the farm and chase people! There’s UBU (“oo-boo’) named after the farm dog (perhaps the one we spotted when we arrived!) and you can even have a pint of ‘Longhorn’ in honour of those lovely cows.
We finished up our drinks and finished up our visit in the Purity shop where they have a fantastic selection of their own products as well as other beers and ciders. Q and I had a little shopping spree!
I really, really enjoyed my visit to Purity. The tour is an absolute bargain at £16.50 and was hugely insightful with plenty of comedy. I found myself learning a lot and came away with plenty of interesting facts about beer that I’ll proudly recite next time I’m down the pub!