Island brewery ships beer by ‘armed’ sailboat

In an effort to provide local beer and reduce emissions, a brewery based on the Isles of Scilly sent its beer to a Cornish micro-pub by way of a replica 18th century privateer sailing boat.

The replica Grayhound in action. (Photo credit: Grayhound Lugger Sailing)

Ales of Scilly is the only brewery to be based on St Mary’s, the largest island in the Scillonian archipelago. Having been launched in 2001 by retired local teacher Mark Praeger, it was taken on by Jennie Trevithick in March 2017.

It currently provides beer for local events and also supplies local bars, cafés, restaurants and shops on the islands.

Earlier this month, the brewery was contacted by the owners of The Barrel, a micro-pub based in Bude in North Cornwall, who, keen to stock its beer, devised an unusual and antiquated delivery method.

In a Facebook post, the pub announced: “We expect a special delivery in Penzance on Thursday 16 August. Special because our latest beer delivery is from Britain’s most South Westerly brewery, Ales of Scilly and is arriving on the Grayhound; a replica 18th Century three-mast Cornish Lugger!”

“Two barrels of beer were loaded on-board on Friday the 11th by Jennie Trevithick the first female Cornish brewer at the Ales of Scilly brewery and hopefully, with fair weather, they will arrive in Penzance in the inner harbour, where the supply ships for the Scillies dock at 11am”.

Speaking last Thursday (11/08/2017), Trevithick confirmed that the beer had been safely stowed on board: “The barrels were rolled across the beach to the gigs as they pulled up onto the shore and loaded ready to be taken as cargo onboard the Grayhound bound for Penzance with a final destination of The Barrel in Bude. A somewhat old fashioned means of transporting freight but one that fits perfectly with the craft brewery’s ethos of reducing their environmental impact whilst keeping such traditions alive.”

The beer barrels about to embark on their journey.

The first Grayhound, originally a three-masted ‘revenue lugger,’ was built by John F Parkin in 1776 in Cawsand. During his life, Parkin built revenue and privateer vessels as well as, ironically, smuggling boats – the very vessels that revenue-collecting ships set out to catch and impound.

The Grayhound was later transformed into a privateer vessel following the conflicts arising from the American declaration of independence in 1776. A privateer vessel was a privately-owned ship commissioned to engage in maritime warfare with enemy vessels. The vessel would have been granted a ‘letter of marque’ – a government license that authorised the attack and capture of enemy ships.

The replica Grayhound, constructed by Marcus Rowden and Freya Hart, is 5/6 of the size of the original, but, like her 18th century counterpart, is ‘armed’ with eight cannons.

Launched on 4 August 2012, the Grayhound sails two cross-channel cargo routes, one of which travels up the river Loire to collect wine from Muscadet. The boat can also be booked for sailing holidays.

Speaking to the drinks business, Jennie Trevithick of Ales of Scilly explained that shipping beer by sailboat had been on her radar since she took over in March, having now completed a couple of orders to the mainland.

“I originally came from Falmouth so knew about the sail trading boats and was keen to get our ales on it when I took on the brewery in March. The mode of transport is very fitting for the Ales of Scilly brand as we name our ales after local shipwrecks so each has a story behind it. It is also environmentally friendly which is very important for us. As we live on an island and in beautiful surroundings, the environmental impact is something that we are constantly looking at reducing. We are working on a pilot project with Hitachi who are introducing renewable energy to the islands too.”

“The other means of transporting ales to the mainland is via the freight vessel that visits the islands 3 times a week from Penzance. It has been the Gry Maritha until recently but is now the Mali Rose. The freight ships are run by the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group and all of our deliveries to the islands use the freight ship as air freight would be too expensive,” she added.

As for future plans, Trevithick hopes to continue working with the Grayhound: “I hope to continue to use the service that Grayhound provide. I love meeting them on the beach and handing over the goods – it is such a traditional thing to do and often draws a crowd to watch. We have even had cask races down the beach to the boats – the beer gets lots of time to settle after the journey!”

“In the future, we are hoping to get more outlets on the mainland and will use Grayhound as much as we can. Obviously it being a charter sailing vessel we have to work around their timetable as much as possible but they are often in Scillonian waters so that will not be an issue for most customers on the mainland”.

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