Ales from the Farm Yard

14 March 2018

Things couldn’t be going any better for Farm Yard Ales founder Steven Holmes – and his dad couldn’t be more delighted.

Bob Holmes wasn’t totally convinced when son Steven told him he was opening a brewery on the family farm. It would take hard work and a lot of money – £225,000 to be exact.

‘It was going to be a huge gamble, I realised that,” explained Steven, who founded Farm Yard Ales in Cockerham in 2017. “I needed my dad’s financial help to get the loan as I didn’t have anything to lend against. He wasn’t sure, understandably.

“It probably seemed like a daft idea at the time, but I think that idea is now becoming something that is a real success.”

Fast forward a few months and farmer, Bob, is fully on board. As well as helping with deliveries across the county, he gets involved at the brewery including their new social nights on the first Saturday of every month which attract hundreds of people.

“It’s fantastic to see,” said Steven, who also still drives milk tucks for the family business. “He seems to really enjoy it at the brewery tap nights and he loves meeting new people. He’s also fantastic at going out and delivering to our customers.

“My wife, Janet, also helps out as well as working on the air ambulance. She’s a great support to me. It’s good to have us all involved.”

Steven founded the brewery to protect the future of Moss Edge Farm and his family’s livelihood. It was also a way to carve a career out for himself as the challenges of the farming industry deepened. He started with a loan and some funding from the Rural Development Programme for England’s

LEADER fund and the Prince’s Countryside Fund. The latter gave him the use of a Land Rover for 12 months.

His dream to create fantastic beers with a strong link to the farm have been realised. He is now producing seven core beers and a selection of progressive brews – they are named after elements of life on the farm.  Farmyard Ales supply pubs and retailers across Lancashire and wholesalers help them distribute the beers further afield, including to London. One recent brew, Hoof, also uses other Lancashire foodie products. The coffee milk stout uses milk from Brades Farm in Farleton and coffee from Lancaster roasters, Atkinsons.

Steven works with Darius Darwell who first started brewing in Australia in 2007 and has worked for breweries in Bristol and Leeds. Since taking up post at the Cockerham farm last year he has been helping Steven develop more beers and expand the business.

Determined to drive Farmyard Ales onto further success Steven has also launched a bar on the farm. Steven and Darius are building the monthly social nights which put the beers in the spotlight but also feature live music and street food. They are also planning to install a canning plant. This would enable them to can their own beer as well as provide that service for other breweries in Lancashire. It would mean a £100,000 investment.

“There is a real lack of canning facilities up here,” said Steven. “At the minute we have to get someone in to do it and often they travel from London or far away. We’re hoping we will be able to help other brewers in the area so they’re not having to deal with this situation anymore.

“We just want to be really well known. We want to have that great reputation for great beer. People love the story behind the company and I think we’re building that reputation now and we’re pleased with how things are going. It’s fantastic.”

Farm Yard Ales is a member of Marketing Lancashire and partner in the Taste Lancashirecampaign, created to position Lancashire as a destination for food lovers.

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