Devon boasts many independent brewers producing delicious ales, but Utopian Brewing is doing something different - producing lager. Set up two years ago in a farm unit near Copplestone, it is already winning awards for its lagers made only with British ingredients. Crediton wine merchant Bruce Evans is impressed by the quality of their beers and urges you to try one on your next trip to the pub.
If anyone has drunk lager in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, or pretty much anywhere in Europe, they will probably agree that what we produce in this country isn’t up to scratch, to put it politely.
When Asahi wanted to grab a piece of the British lager pie, they started their brewery in the Czech Republic, rather than the UK. What we produce in Burton or Nottingham is the reason I am an ale drinker. Add to this that the market is pretty hostile to new entrants. Most pubs are tied or heavily supported by the big lager brands, so putting a new line in is difficult.
Therefore, to start a craft lager brewery in rural Devon is a brave thing, but it seems Utopian knew what they were doing. The head brewer, Jeremy Swainson, studied for his craft in Germany, (graduating top of his class at the Doemens Academy in Munich), so to be blunt he is good at his job. A shiny new state of the art brewery was built in a shed at Clannaborough Barton Farm and production started.
They only use British ingredients, and produce a core range of a Pilsner, Lager, Dark Lager and an Unfiltered Lager. Then there are their special brews, like a Vienna Lager, Cerne Black Lager or the current birthday brew, an export Kellerbier, all styles which you just do not normally see in this country. Personally, I find the lager beautiful, although quite strong, (two pints and I am a touch wobbly), but the slightly lighter pilsner or the Session Czech 10 degrees are brilliant thirst quenchers on a warm day.
The Cerne Black Lager is an amazing thing, a real treat, simply put it is a stout lager, big and bold and at 5.9%, one is probably enough, and the birthday Kellerbier is well worth grabbing while it’s around. Please note, it is not just me who thinks they are decent, they are winning awards left, right and centre.
Utopian now have decent coverage in the local pubs, and are well worth a try when you are next in one, or in the garden at least. I carry as many of their brews as possible in cans, for when you need some refreshment after a hard day in the garden.
We are very lucky to have a brewery like Utopian on our doorstep and with the gentle easing of restrictions and hospitality opening up again, don’t forget that the local brewers got minimal support during the last year and a bit, so supporting them is as important as supporting the pubs.
You can find out more about Utopian Brewing here.
Bruce Evans runs Grape & Grain Wine Merchants on Crediton High Street.