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Two craft beer entrepreneurs have spoken of the impact that a £176,000 European grant has had on their business – and urged other rural firms to apply for a share of the remaining £2.8m.

Duration Brewing will open a farmhouse brewery and tap house amongst the ruins of a 900-year-old priory in West Acre, near King’s Lynn.

Owners Derek Bates and Miranda Hudson were awarded the grant towards their multi-million-pound project via Norfolk County Council’s Leader programme.

Ms Hudson said: “This grant awarded early on meant that other investors had the confidence to come on board, because they saw that we had the planning, and we had the support to make this a success.

“This means the business isn’t run by big corporation investors, it’s run by us backed by a number of local individuals. There’s also less pressure on the business because our success won’t have to be offset by debt.”
The funds will be spent on specialised equipment for both traditional and more commercial brewing fermentation techniques.

Ms Hudson added: “We want to bring back techniques that are traditional to the region but have been forgotten. We’ll be using coolships for this – large trays which allow an ingredient called wort to cool in a different way.

“We’ll also be spending some of the funds on foeders, which are large fermentation vessels that allow for beers to age slowly with added flavour complexity.”

She said: “We’re expecting to hire up to 20 people locally at the site within the first five years, 12 within the first three. We’ll have a range of skilled and unskilled work in permanent, part-time and casual roles.”

She added: “We’re based in a tiny village, but we’re hoping to create a draw which will see people going into the other businesses around us like the theatre, and the new community arts centre. We want to give each other a boost as of a more social enterprise and be more than the sum of our parts.”

Rural businesses in Norfolk or Suffolk can apply for a chunk of the £8.1m total between now and the deadline of September 27.
Projects must meet criteria including increasing farm productivity, diversification, rural tourism, rural services or heritage activities.

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