Cellar Head Brewing company
Updated: Jan 16
London Born and Bred took a trip down to Kent a few weeks ago and visited Little Scotney Hop farm and Cellar Head’s brewery and taproom near Flimwell.
Chris and Julia McKenzie both come from different business backgrounds and Cellar Head is relatively new on the scene having been formed in 2017. Despite being young as a brewery, good beer will get you a long way quite quickly when handled right and effort put in, and that’s what has happened with Cellar Head. A love of beer and good business practice have seen Cellar Head expand rapidly, albeit carefully. It’s also primarily a family business with three members of the extended family working for it, with Father in-law Rob coming out of retirement to help, and very willingly too!
The McKenzie family have taken on two members of staff, Dave Berry as head brewer, and Joe Dann as assistant brewer. Dave has worked at several other Kent breweries, and his passion is for English Hop varieties. This is perfect for Cellar Head’s Cask beer led range. Cask beer is beer that is brewed, and then transferred in a late stage to a cask(a simple barrel) and then transported to the serving venue. It needs to sit for a while to settle out, as cask beer is not filtered, and then when it’s ready as determined by the publican, it’s connected to the taps in the bar and drawn up by hand pump. This is the traditional style of British beer where you would see the server taking 3-5 long draws on the pump handle to pour your pint. Correctly conditioned and served, cask beer has flavours and subtle tastes that can’t be matched with carbonated pressured delivered beer.
Hops are important! And quality beer demands quality hops. British Hops are beginning to be appreciated again for their subtle, multi-faceted profiles of flavour. Cellar Head had organised a visit and walk at the nearby Little Scotney Hop farm which we happily attended. The small fee being charged being donated to a charity of choice by Cellar head. They run regular walks and events through the year so keep an eye on their social media for what’s happening. Little Scotney Hop farm is owned by the National Trust, and is operated in the traditional manner, probably the only too do so.
We were taken around the bines of hops soaring up nearly 5 metres and educated as to what hops are and what they do, and how the history of British hop growing has waxed and waned over time. Then we were taken on a tour of the old works within the Huge Oasts that are used too dry the hops.
The machinery was demonstrated to us by the Hop farmer Ian Strang, who supplies Cellar Head with hops. The historic buildings were amazing, and smelt oh so nice! The floors were thick with decades of resin from the hop cones lovingly harvested and processed here. After the fascinating tour was finished, Mr Strang himself having led us on the second part, we were treated to a pint or two of Cellar Head’s “Strang’s number 7” This is a single hop beer, with just the single variety. Number 7 is an unusual hop in that it was an escapee from the farm, found growing in a hedgerow nearby, where one of the cultivated varieties had been pollinated and gone to seed and a new variety produced. The hop appeared to have good qualities when Mr Strang tested it, so they brought it in-house and began to grow it. Needless too say, it was fantastic!
Cellar Head have a good solid range of core beers that appear in nearly 300 pubs around the South East. They also sell bottled and mini-kegged beer. They have five core beers, but also produce seasonal offerings and specials. Everything I tried oozed quality.
If you are in Kent at all then you should seek them out, or find a pub with their beers and visit. Alternatively drop by their wonderful Taproom and sample there, and buy to take away.
Craft beer is beginning too become a catch-all term, but it is appropriate in many cases, and certainly as far as Cellar Head goes, as what they produced is very finely crafted indeed.
Cellar Head brewery company can be found at:
T: 01580 879523 M: 07391 557407