Farming and brewing go hand in hand; from the Belgian farmers traditionally brewing Saison throughout the winter months for summer consumption, to those breweries using dairy farming equipment to produce their beer, the two go together better than lamb and mint sauce.
When Sarah and Len Davies relocated to Kilkiffeth Farm, they found out just how much brewing is ingrained in farming culture.
“We moved to the farmhouse about 15 years ago and all the local farmers were brewing in the valley,” Len explained. “I asked the other farmers where they got the ingredients and they told me it was from an animal feed company,” he continued. Like his neighbours, Len began to brew small batches in his kitchen using the maximalt and dried hops from the local farmer’s shop. It wasn’t for a further ten years however that Len would finally take the plunge, sell his animals and focus entirely on brewing.
When the couple did finally make the transition from farm to brewery in 2009, it wasn’t an easy conversion. The farm, which dates back to the 1600s, is located in Pembrokeshire National Park, and as such, they faced issues with obtaining planning permission.
The original destination of the brewery was to be the cattle shed, but after being rejected twice, they were forced to choose a different building. “It was a case of third time lucky,” joked Sarah as she explained they finally got permission to brew in the old granary building.
Despite much deliberation with regards to receiving planning permission, there was no such trouble for the couple when deciding what their beer bottles would be adorned with. They were attracted to move here, from their farm on the edge of Black Mountain in the Amman Valley, not only for better farming conditions. The stunning scenery of the Gwaun Valley, overlooking the idyllic Preseli Hills, instantly struck them and this ultimately motivated the move. This backdrop provides Sarah, a skilled artist and musician, with inspiration to paint beautiful watercolours that grace every bottle of Len’s beer.
“I take inspiration from the farm and surrounding area, such as the bluebells down in the valley,” Sarah explained, and it’s not just the bottles that act as a canvas for her work. The ancient farmhouse and guesthouse are decorated with more examples of her work.
Just as the bottles are given a personal touch, so to is the beer. Made using water from the farm’s very own spring, it is truly authentic to the valley.
As well as brewing, the accommodating couple host acoustic nights in the granary, which are becoming increasingly popular with both locals and visitors to the valley. “We even get someone who brings a harp!” exclaimed Sarah as she passionately talked about the subject.
The music nights may be an enjoyable event for Len and Sarah, but the crowning jewel of their time brewing came in 2010 when they were invited to meet Prince Charles in Tenby, and then later summoned to Windsor Castle by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in the November.
“I took up a case of beer for Prince Philip,” joked Len, and it was a good thing he did, as with all the champagne being handed out, he was hard pushed to find a decent beer.
With Royal approval, the beers are a must try if you are visiting Pembrokeshire and Len, Sarah and their daughters will be more than happy to welcome you into their brewery for a free taster and their recently renovated guesthouse provides the perfect place to stay for those wishing to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for more than just the day.