So Jim, why is the brewery called Range Ales?
Well some people ask that. So.. here’s the story so far….
Range Ales – How it started and what we aim for
Well it started in 2013, and like all good ideas, it started one afternoon, in the pub, over a couple of ales. Well, quite a few ales Jim seems to recall.
Both Jim and David had been a real ale “enthusiasts” for quite some time and so it wasn’t unusual for the subject of Ale to be on the conversation list…..especially in their local The Three Mariners, Hythe.
A couple of years before this fateful day David had gone along to a well known brewery in Surrey with a view to making a purchase. Not just a few casks you understand, but a share of the business. Well, the meeting didn’t quite go as he had hoped and he came away more than a little disappointed. As David always says, in business it’s just as much about the people as the product. And if you can’t work with both then it won’t work for you.
Jim already had an “escape plan” for his retirement from the police force. Making Homebrew ale, with his own home build brew kit, and his own recipes he had already become something of a ‘go to for great beer*’ in Kent Police. The plan was that with a portion of the hard earned retirement lump sum he was going to invest in his own micro brewery. Nothing grand, just enough to keep him out of trouble, Lis in shoes, a couple of holidays each year and keep the pension topped up. With a bit of luck there may even be a bit of profit in it at the end of the day and maybe, just maybe, leave something for the kids to bicker over in 20 odd years time.
So that fateful Sunday** the conversation turned to what of the future, hopes, dreams, and the usual sort of alcohol fuelled speculation that happens on Sunday afternoons up and down the country. I heard that’s how Manchester United got started, and they’ve done alright for themselves by all accounts. It started by David filtching some of Jim’s home brew. Fortunately it seems that David actually quite liked what he tasted and asked a few more questions about what sort of brewery Jim was looking at, how much it would cost to set up and what the projected income would be for such a venture. Clearly what was discussed whet more than David’s actual pallet and come the spring of 2013 a partnership was established and the long, and often fruitless hunt for suitable premises began.
For quite some time the project stalled, it didn’t look like any sort of suitable premises would actually come their way but both David and Jim soldiered on. Something would turn up sooner rather than later, was their moto at this time. And time was on their side, as Jim couldn’t go full time until after Christmas 2015 in any case. And in the meantime ale was still being brewed, sampled and either dis-guarded or worked upon to come up with some regular tasty ales. Fortunately there was no shortage of “enthusiastic amateurs” willing to express their views on how good, bad or indifferent the ale was. And come the summer of 2014 at least three brew recipes had been established to take them forward when premises could be sourced and brewing could start. Actually all joking aside. Without the honest feedback from the friends, family, colleagues and general hangers-on our beer wouldn’t taste as good as it does. So thank you all. You know who you are. And that three recipes actually meant four! Though not all of them would make it onto the main list.
The bottom line was agreed upon, that being, quality tasting beer comes first. Profit and gain comes second. And we would always listen to what people wanted from their beer and not just plod on doing what we wanted to do. So in effect our aim was, and is, to produce beer that people want to drink. We aim to use English grains, hops and yeast, as much and as often as we can. We will try to source our materials locally and we will endeavour to keep our production as fuel efficient and cost effective as we can. The savings we can make will help keep the cost of our ale down and so keep the end cost down. We believe that ale shouldn’t be a luxury item, it should be product available for all, on a daily basis. Even the doctors accept that a daily intake of ale is good for ones health. And that has to be worth raising a glass too.
We produce four main ales throughout the year, plus a selection of seasonal specials. Descriptions of all of our beers can be found on the Ales page of the website. We also produce a Green Hop ale each year. Check out our news section for the blog as to how it went last year AND how it’s currently going.
That’s all fascinating… But why Range Ales?
Simple really, Both David and Jim live within a pebbles throw of Hythe Ranges, where military from all over the world come to train. Jim remembers (not so) fondly of running up and down the ranges as a young soldier with the Scots Guards. He was a marksman and later a weapons instructor, so ended up with extra duties on range days.
As the beers are initially designed on the computer at home, all of our beers are conceived to the sound of gun fire. Hence the name.
* No money changed hands, ever, people just sponged of off Jim, and, not surprisingly, he made a lot of new friends.
** As far as Jim recalls it was a Sunday. Though to be honest it may well have been a Thursday/Friday/Saturday…