Brewery Visits DSC00112

Published on May 21st, 2013 | by Nottingham Drinker


Brewery Visit – Shottle Farm Brewery

Shottle Farm, part of the Chatsworth estate, is in one of the most idyllic spots in the Derbyshire countryside, with the brewery housed in an old cow byre overlooking the rolling hills just above Belper. But it has more than that as its claim to fame, because along with its nearby pub, it must also be one of the most family-focussed and environmentally friendly operations in the country.

When retired fireman Tony Laven opened the brewery in 2011, he admits he had no prior knowledge of beer making and he says it was a bit daunting to begin with. He added, “It also cost quite a bit of money to set up. We had to raise the roof on the cow shed to get the equipment in, for example.” He attributes the success of the brewery to help from friends and family as well as unexpected sources such as The University of Nottingham and Darley Abbey-based Derventio Brewery. He explained tha thanks to European Union cash, the university came out to him three times to provide training and advice on setting up the brewery, and Derventio were happy for him to visit to see how they operated.

Tony is passionate about using local products whenever he can and the brewery uses the farm’s own spring water, which is twice filtered and then passed through a UV filter. Honey used in brewing comes from the Rob’s farm up the hill, and the finest English malt and hops are used. The waste products from the brewing process don’t actually go to waste either. Spent malt is used to feed the farm’s Gloucester Old Spot pigs; yeast is mixed with the spent grain to feed the pigs, and also fed to Rob’s bees as a supplement. Spent hops are composted on the muck heap and used on the land, and waste water goes into a settling tank before filtering out into the duck pond and withy bed (willow patch). As a new venture some of the yeast is also going to a local baker to produce bread and this is already proving popular.

The brewer – and chief pig feeder – at Shottle Farm is James Emslie who was working as a pub manager; he was thrown in at the deep end and had to learn the job, with Tony’s help, as he went along. He has since completed a few courses at the University of Nottingham.

However things are about to change dramatically at the brewery as it is being moved, albeit not far. Tony is to move into the neighbouring Handley Farm, which is larger than his current farm, but it is in an equally idyllic setting. However before the move can be completed there is a lot of building work to be done to convert Handley Farm’s larger cowsheds into suitable premises for a brewery. The new location has access to the same local spring water so there should be no noticeable differences to the beers and the brewery name will remain unchanged.

But if Tony and his team are not busy enough already, what with running the farm and brewery, and the planned relocation, they also run their own pub nearby. The Bulls Head at Belper Lane End is situated in a delightful spot just 6 minutes out of Belper by bus (Glovers service 113). Family and close friends help run the pub and Tony himself carries out much of the cooking – we said he was a busy chap!

As well as serving their own beer at the Bull’s Head, where four Shottle Farm beers are usually on at a time, as much of the food as possible is sourced very locally, some of it from Tony’s farm. With all draught cask beers at £2.90 a pint and some excellent local food, the pub is certainly worth a visit – dare you try the 30lb mixed grill deal, just £10 if you can eat it all?!

For More information see or telephone 01773 550056 or 07877 723075.


Tasting notes

8/- Ale: Brewed using our own spring water and next door’s honey. Rich, dark beer. Smooth and malty. Full bodied, pleasant after taste with undertones of treacle and caramel. The 8/- shilling is a dig at the chancellor; 8/- equates to about 40p, which is the beer duty paid per pint before it leaves the farm. Our 8/- Shilling is casked at 4.0 ABV.

Shottle Gold Ale has a floral aroma and is brewed using our own spring water and next door’s honey. A fruity hint of citrus lemon. Easy on the palette, crisp and a clean white head. Perfect entry level for the lager drinker who wants to taste something.

SPA: Mid bodied pale ale with a soft hoppy hit and is brewed using our own spring water and next door’s honey with a little taste of citrus tangerine. A premium pale ale brewed with first gold hops. Casked SPA is 3.9 ABV.

Shottlecock: A single malt beer with a healthy dose of Fuggles hops, our own spring water, and next door’s honey; making a delightful session beer at an ABV of 3.6%. Created from an old Victorian recipe for Breakfast beer, in the summer we replace the honey with our own elder flower syrup for a more summery taste.

Black Peggy: Brewed using chocolate malt, oatmeal, our own spring water and next door’s honey. Black Peggy is a smooth, easy drinking oatmeal stout at an ABV of 3.9%. With pleasant hints of liquorice, a lovely mouth feel and not at all heavy, Black Peggy is a cross-over genre between a mild and a stout porter. This lovely oatmeal stout leaves you with a warm glow and happy as a pig in muck.


Dilks: Made with British malt and hops, our own spring water and next doors honey, Dilks has a slight sweetness and lovely hop balance from First Gold and Goldings hops. A lovely smooth, mature beer with a hint of citrus.



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