Pitfield Brewery

The History –30 years(so far)


Way back in 1982, a young Rob Jones was manager of specialist off license at number 8 Pitfield Street. One day Brian and Liz who owned the shop, asked Rob-who was a keen home brewer- if he would like to set up a brewery at the shop. He said, “Yes!” They set one up in the cellar of the shop, and thus Pitfield Brewery was born. Not long after, Brian and Liz offered to sell Rob the shop, as they wanted to concentrate on another shop they had in Lewisham, South London. In need of a partner to help him buy the business, Rob called up his old school friend Martin Kemp. Rob and Martin were able to scrape together enough cash to buy the Beer Shop and brewery. 1984 saw the brewery move to a larger site round the back of the shop in Hoxton Square. In 1986, Pitfield ‘Dark Star’ beer won the ‘Champion New Brewery’ award at the Great British Beer Festival. This turned out to be just a taster of future glory, as in 1987 Dark Star was judged the Champion Beer of Britain, and Andy Skene joined the brewery as a brewer.

The brewery went through a few changes in the next few years. A pub -The Ship and Blue Ball, Shoreditch – was leased and lost, and in 1989 the Beer Shop and Pitfield Brewery went their separate ways. Martin Kemp took over sole ownership of The Beer Shop, while Rob and Andy headed to Stourbridge, West Midlands after the creation of Pitfield Premier Ales by merging Pitfield with Premier Ales, which was run by Eddie and Graham Perks.

This arrangement lasted until 1991 when due to some financial irregularities the company collapsed. Rob headed south to Brighton, where he started on the road to the eventual formation of the Dark Star Brewery, which has grown to be the great brewery we know today. Andy stayed in Stourbridge brewing for Chainmaker Brewery, which had arisen out of the ashes of Pitfield Premier Ales. In 1995 Andy went freelance and travelled the UK brewing for many different breweries.

1992 Martin Kemp had regained the Pitfield Brewery name, and in 1994 he moved The Beer Shop into 14 Pitfield Street, and put the new Pitfield Brewery in next door.

Hackney home brewer Chris Wright was hired as the shop manager and brewer. Chris left in 1998, and Andy came back as brewer as part of his weekly locum-brewing round.

In 1998 The Duke of Cambridge organic pub in St Peter’s Street, N1 was opened by Esther Boulton and Geetie Singh. The Duke approached Pitfield about producing organic beer for the pub. Pitfield started trying to acquire organic malt and hops. They found organic malt, but is was in Scotland, so they went and got it. They found organic hops from New Zealand, so they had them delivered. The first brew was produced using pale malt and Hallertau hops. This first beer was Eco Warrior, which is still one of our main brands today. Andy made crystal malt in his kitchen one weekend, and this allowed the brewing of the first organic version of Pitfield Bitter. Pitfield was certified organic in 2000.

Brewing continued in Pitfield Street until 2005, when, due to increased production, and difficulties of trade at the shop, it was decided to put the Beer Shop online, and move the brewery out of London. This marked the start of an itinerant life for Pitfield. The brewery moved to a borrowed home in Sussex, and then to a farm near Colchester, Essex. In 2008 we moved to where we are today, New House Farm near Moreton in Essex. In August of this year in a rental agreement with Martin Kemp, Andy Skene took over the day to day running and management of Pitfield Brewery. Martin is looking for a pub to hang the Pitfield name on, and is selling Pitfield beer around the country. Andy hopes that together we can strengthen Pitfield’s reputation as producer of fine organic ales.