UK winery Chapel Down signs top-ranking AB InBev brewer to make craft beer

As Chapel Down continues to ride a wave of growth in the UK’s wine industry, the English drinks producer has now appointed an AB InBev brewer to head up its beer label.

Matthew Anderson, who has spent more than a decade producing household name beers at AB InBev’s breweries in Wales and Lancashire, will become head of brewing and production at Curious Brewery, owned by Kentish winery Chapel Down, with immediate effect.

In his new role, Anderson will help to “ad to and grow” Curious Brewery’s range of beers and ciders, which currently includes 4.9% ABV sour ale blended with leftover Chardonnay and Bacchus lees costing £20, as well as a lager re-fermented with Champagne yeast; a triple hopped IPA; and a Kentish cider fermented with Bacchus lees.

Anderson first joined AB-InBev in 2007 as Packaging Quality Lab Technician in London’s Stag Brewery, but two years later he moved to AB InBev’s brewing facility in Magor, Wales, where he was part of a team which introduced Budweiser, Becks & Stella 4% ABV to the brewery.

Anderson is a high-ranking brewer within AB InBev. He completed his Diploma in Brewing (IBD) in conjunction with the company’s Global Brewmaster Program, where he ranked in 1st place in

The announcement comes after a wave of growth for Chapel Down’s portfolio. Sales rose by 15% in 2017 to £11.8 million according to financial results posted in April this year, and while wine sales alone were up 20% to £8.12 million, compared to £6.8 million in 2016, Beer and cider sales under the Curious Drinks brand also rose by 7% to reach £3.68 million.

Anderson said that the opportunity to make build a new brewery’s profile isn’t one he could easily pass up. “I felt I really had to be part of this.”

“That I get to do it whilst growing and adding to the existing drinks portfolio and being part of a team that is changing the way consumers think about and drink beer is brilliant. With Curious’ winemaking heritage and vision to create things that others can’t, I’m looking forward to making this happen!”

Chapel Down is set to open a new Curious Drinks brewery — a “cathedral of beer” — in the first quarter of 2019 at a cost of £1.3 million, bringing an estimated 160 full-time jobs and 50 additional supply chain jobs to the area.

The brewer acquired planning permission from Ashford Borough Council back in October 2016, and between 2015 and 2016, raised over £1.7 million to fund the project with the help of 895 investors. It completed payment for the site in November 2017. It will begin test brewing on the site later this year.

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