I was supposed to drop into the Kennet & Avon Brewery’s popup beer garden mini-festival in Melksham this weekend, although I was told the secret which was to be announced there beforehand and sworn to confidentiality.
By the time I could’ve made it on Saturday the announcement was made anyway! Terribly unprofessional of me I know, but the idea of driving over to a brewery surely defeated the object of visiting a brewery, for who am I not to sample, and when I sample I’m no gurgling and spitting wine connoisseur. Let’s just leave it there.
Delighted when messaging owner Malcom Shipp, to discover he was still at the Grand Market of the Devizes Food Festival, of which I need to review too in good time. Obviously not content with showing off his new range of beers to the Sham, he’s got tables full of Devizions sampling them too.
All I had to do was hotfoot it up Dunkirk Hill to meet the man with the big announcement. He sure is making a song and dance about it; supplying live music from Jamie R Hawkins and Rob Lear, a darn good move, the kingpin which held punters at the market. For The Kennet & Avon Brewery is no more, a complete change of corporate identity now means there’s a far simpler logo on a black background, designed by Sam Bryant of Devizes, renaming the company as Stealth Brew Co.
Modernisation is the general reason for this transformation, setting them firmly in an ever-changing national, perhaps international market. “Not many people will know the Kennet & Avon outside of the local area,” Malcom explained. I pointed out the name, though it may sound regional, also connotes a canal, and who wants to drink from that?
Mostly the feedback on the announcement has been positive, though some hangers-on, sad to see a discontinuation of the ales they enjoyed, criticised the move, Malcom expressed the needs of the business. Only the most popular beer, Savernake, remains, rebranded as Solitude. The company’s concentration now lies with hop forward, pale and amber ales, all 100% vegetarian.
I figured this would make them clear like a lager but at the bar Malcom presented me with Covert, a 3.9% Citra Session Pale, which was hazy. “All our draught beers will be hazy,” he pointed out. Now, he’s not going to win me over easy, I’m a cider drinker and this is not something the company deal in; I did ask.
So, not being an authority on beer, I did enjoy this. It was wholesome and fruity, the best way a novice could describe it, with a flavour worth savouring. It took a while for me get it all down to be honest. I guess it isn’t for the pisshead wanting to down twenty pints and arrive home with a blackeye and a traffic cone, rather someone who really relishes in the tranquillity of a sinking-a-nice-beer moment.
So it’s farewell to the Kennet & Avon Brewery, established in 2013, once thrilled in stating “each beer’s name is inspired by the delights of The Kennet & Avon Canal, and hello to Stealth Brew, an real contender in the market, one willing to move and adapt with the times. I wish them all of luck with the change, and people gathered at the bar seemed to approve.
Certain this range will be a welcomed addition to the Devizes CAMRA Beer Festival, and beyond, and you can try them out at Malcom’s micropub, The Vaults, the brewery shop in Melksham and word is out that he’s looking for new premises in the Sham. I wish them good (hic) luck.