It opened without any fanfare but the Isle of Man’s latest and smallest micro-brewery has already been supplying pubs across the island since it started up in September.
The Hooded Ram brewery based at the Hills Meadow Industrial Estate in Douglas is the venture of former compliance worker Robert Storey, 34, who lives in Onchan.
‘I’d never even done home brewing until I started this,’ said Robert, who joined CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) in 2010 when it had its AGM and beer festival at the Villa Marina. and has never looked back.
A short time later he was Isle of Man CAMRA branch secretary and in 2012 he resigned from work to start a brewing course with an organisation called BrewLab in Sunderland.
‘I was on the committee for organising the beer festival, which meant more trips to pubs across the island, which showed me how much imported beer was on sale.
‘I started to think there might be more fun to be had than a life in compliance. So I started working on the business plan and spending too many working hours buried in a brewery Excel cash flow, not quite what I was being paid for.’
On the course he learned all the essential stages in the brewing process. It was also a chance to make some useful contacts - and drink some ale.
‘If you enjoy a pint then go on a brewing course because the homework is expected and it’s not the kind that involves burying your head in a book,’ he said.
As well as meeting fellow students from such far flung countries as America, Israel and Brazil. he also made contact with a previous graduate of the course who wanted to sell his brewing equipment in order to upgrade to a larger-capacity set up.
Robert spent some time on placement at the seller’s Three Kings Brewery in North Shields before writing a cheque for the equipment and two months later it was being installed in the Isle of Man.
Alan Cooper from CAMRA said: ‘This is the island’s fifth brewery which means per head of population we have more breweries than anywhere else in the British Isles - probably the world - but my research doesn’t stretch that far.’
This year Isle of Man CAMRA will be staging the island’s third real ale festival at the Masonic Hall in Douglas from April 10 to 12 and Hooded Ram brewery is producing a special ale for the festival, helped by CAMRA members.
The brewery can produce two and a half barrels in a batch - the equivalent of around 700 pints - and could produce two batches each week. So far they have produced 10 or 12 different beers, with the six-per cent IPA proving to be the most popular so far. The beers have been sold in numerous pubs around the island including the Marine and White House in Peel, the Albert and the Outback in Douglas, the Bridge in Laxey and the Mitre and Trafalgar in Ramsey.
‘I wish there was some clever story behind the name Hooded Ram,’ Robert said.
‘But the honest truth is we dreamed it up after a couple of pints of ale in the Manx Arms.
‘It’s a great change from the policies, procedures and regulatory boredom of a life in compliance,’
To promote the beers and to gain valuable feedback, Robert sells them from the pump to drink on the premises at the brewery on the first Friday evening of each month. See www.hoodedram.com and Facebook.