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Chapel Down gets brewery go-ahead

Chapel Down has been given the go-ahead to build a brewery in Ashford for its Curious Brew beer brand.

Chapel Down Curious Brew

The English sparkling wine producers, which last year raised over £1.7m towards the new brewery through crowd-funding, has confirmed it has been granted planning consent for the Curious Brewery Development from Ashford Borough Council.

Chief executive Frazer Thompson said he was delighted with the decision, which will see a 1.6 acre site in the centre of the town turned into a brewery that will meet growing demand from the UK and international markets.

“Situated next to the International station and just 38 minutes from Kings Cross, the Curious Brewery will be an icon for Ashford, for Kent and for contemporary British brewing,” he said. “We are looking forward to creating something exciting and exceptional.”

The company previously said it didn’t want to hide “on some industrial estate” but wanted the brewery, which will include a restaurant and shop,  to be a destination and visitor attraction.  A statement from its fundraising campaign said it would “not only transform the image and landscape of Ashford, but also make a bold and positive statement about modern brewing in Britain.”

The decision comes after the English wine company saw soaring sales of its beer and cider as part of its positive half year sales. Overall sales rose 26% year-on-year to just over £4 million, with Curious Drinks, rocketed 55% to £1.5m with gross profits up 55% to £473,000. UK sales are set to be scaled up, but it is also courting increased exports.

Sales at English Wine producer Chapel Down rose 34% during 2015, according to results filed at Companies House, with profits also rising.

The beer arm of the business was started in 2011, as a way to boost cashflow and provide an alternative revenue scheme while waiting for its sparkling wine stocks to mature. In the last five years, it has gained more than 300 on-trade accounts both direct and through distributors including Matthew Clark, as well as national listings in Majestic and Waitrose.

In June this year, the company branched out into spirits with the release of a 23-year-old brandy made from grapes grown in Kent.

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