18 November 2017

Ashford: Chapel Down brewery due to open in November 2018

Ashford’s state-of-the-art brewery is set to open next November with construction work starting within a matter of weeks.

Bosses at Chapel Down winery in Tenterden are building the £1.3 million centre on wasteland off Victoria Road for the company’s Curious Drinks beer brand.

They completed the purchase of the 1.6-acre site last month and now plan to begin construction over the Christmas period.

The new brewery will also include a visitor centre

Chapel Down chief executive Frazer Thompson said: “We are hoping it will open by November next year.

“There are a few protocols to go through before we can get spades in the ground, but we hope to start construction in late December or early January over the Christmas holiday period.

“It will be an iconic addition to the town centre – it will be a very exciting development for Ashford, for Kent and for contemporary British brewing.”

The site was given planning approval in August last year as part of a multi-million-pound regeneration scheme that also includes an Aldi supermarket, a 125-room hotel and a seven-storey block of 200 flats.

A large Aldi is included in the plans

The brewery, which will run tours and is expected to become a major tourist attraction, will sit next to the German discount store.

The development is expected to create 160 full-time jobs, plus more than 50 jobs in the supply chain.

Mr Thompson added: “We are not just going to build a shed. It is going to be an iconic building, and that is why we have got architect Guy Hollaway involved.

“There will be a visitor facility, restaurant and a shop, and I think it is great for Ashford.

Chapel Down chief executive Frazer Thompson

“We have had tremendous support from Ashford Borough Council, and are looking forward to working with Guy Hollaway and developers U+I Plc to create something exceptional.”

Chapel Down raised £1.7 million in a crowdfunding campaign last year to fund the structure after attracting 895 investors through the initiative.

The company has just refreshed its Curious Drinks brand – which includes lager, IPA and cider – with a new “made by winemakers” strapline.

It was announced last month that Gareth Bath, the former boss of Scottish craft brewery BrewDog, will join the company as managing director of beer with the ambition of taking it “on to the world stage”.

Work on the neighbouring Aldi supermarket will start early in 2018, with the 18,500 sq ft store opening to shoppers later in the year.