How the creation of a microbrewery hopes to secure the future of a Lancashire dairy farm
PUBLISHED: 00:00 27 April 2017
Meet the 29-year-old hoping for a hoppy end for his family’s farm in Cockerham. Emma Mayoh reports
They say all good ideas start in the pub. And for Steven Holmes that light bulb moment couldn’t have come in a more fitting place. The 29-year-old, who grew up on the family farm in Cockerham, began planning his microbrewery, Farm Yard Ales, while drinking in his local.
‘It was a hobby that has turned into a business,’ said Steven. ‘I was talking about it with my friend, Matthew. And it was a bit of a joke at first. We thought we could have a go at brewing our own beer. It turned out I could actually do it.’
Moss Edge Farm has been worked by his family for many years, including currently by his parents Bob and Debbie. Steven, who drives milk trucks, thought brewing beer could be a way to safeguard the future of the farm. It was also a way to provide himself with a future career.
‘I knew I wouldn’t be able to draw an income from working on the farm,’ he said. ‘But I wanted to make sure there would be a future for it.
‘I wanted to safeguard it so it would provide income for me and any future children I have. As well as leaving the traditional farm business as income for my sisters. I want to make it work.’
Since October last year, with the help of his dad and friends, he has built a new brewery facility which is nearing completion. Steven, working with Tottington-based specialist Johnson Brewing Design, will begin producing two ales – an easy drinker and a craft IPA that’s full of flavour.
He also wants to use sustainable methods of producing his beers and has built a bore hole with his dad. Water from the farm’s supply will be used to supply the brewery and spent grains will go as feed for animals on the farm.
It’s going to be a busy year for Steven, who will also marry partner Janet Towers, later this year. He has big ambitions for Farm Yard Ales. It was given the seal of approval from Prince Charles when he visited Lancashire recently and Steven hopes to attract the attention of businesses like Booths. He would also like to supply across the UK and internationally.
‘I don’t see why it can’t be done,’ said Steven. ‘I want to gradually work towards something like this and also be able to get more attention not just for Farm Yard Ales but also for Lancashire as a county.
‘It feels like an exciting time. There has been and will be a lot of hard work. But it will be worth it.’
Steven’s story is just one of many that Marketing Lancashire aims to celebrate on the back of their successful ongoing campaign to promote food and drink from the county to a wider audience. The campaign, which also aims to boost tourism to the area, has already enjoyed huge success with a Lancashire food debate, attended by Matthew Fort, a Lancashire Taste Exchange and meet the producer event, national media coverage and a Lancashire Day lunch held in Covent Garden late last year. There has also been a bestselling Lancashire Cookbook, which has outsold Nigella Lawson, Yotam Ottolenghi and Jamie Oliver in Booths and regional branches of Waterstones.
Ruth Connor, chief executive of Marketing Lancashire said: ‘There has been an undeniable step change in the awareness of Lancashire’s exceptional food and drink offer. We are extremely proud of our producers, chefs and hospitality champions who work so hard to make and to serve the best.
‘We are a force to be reckoned with when we collaborate. Pivotal events like our Lancashire Day lunch brought together some of Lancashire’s finest chefs and producers, giving the UK’s top journalists a taste of Lancashire and tempting them to visit us and see for themselves. 2017 will be the year of the Red Rose county.’