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Matching by Greyhound Brewery of Ballard's brands now underway: will be branded ‘Ballard’s brewed by Greyhound’.

Greyhound to the rescue: Ballard’s beers saved

Ballard’s beers have been saved thanks to a takeover by Sussex neighbour Greyhound Brewery.

While the Ballard’s kit has been sold separately for a new brewpub opening in Zagreb, Croatia, the goodwill and brands have been purchased by Greyhound, which was founded in 2015 by artists Nick and Sarah Allen.

Agent Tom Allman at auctioneer Marriott & Co said that the two parts of the package had gone for “a five-figure price well in excess of valuation.” The sale ends fears that the 37-year-old microbrewery’s name would disappear completely upon the retirement of owner Carola Brown.

Brew matching is already underway on the 7.5-barrel plant in the Allens’ double garage in West Chiltington with the help of Ballard’s veteran brewer Fran Weston.

Nick Allen said he is aiming to maintain continuity of supply to local pubs.

“We’d always really liked Ballard’s and knew about them well before we thought about brewing ourselves,” he explained. “It will add a dimension to our sales. They are stoically traditional while our beers are more transatlantic crossovers that don’t use many British hops. It’s a natural fit.”

Allen has noticed Greyhound’s “more contemporary” cask beers have been replacing Ballard’s beers on pub pumps recently, “but the pendulum is always swinging back and to lose that tradition will be wrong.

“Ballard’s was pretty much the only independent brewer in Sussex in the 1980s, and Fran is probably the longest serving brewer in the county.”

Greyhound will continue brewing four Ballard’s beers: Best, Mild, Wassail strong ale and Wild porter. They will be branded ‘Ballard’s brewed by Greyhound’.

Production will be “flat out” and extra space will need to be organised for cask storage.

“Apart from that it’s a question of scheduling the brewing and keeping the fermenters in tune,” said Allen.

“The first brew of Ballard’s Best seems to have come together quite well,” he added. “Our procedures are quite similar in that we both use a two-step process and, following treatment, the water match is close. It needs just a few more tweaks and it’s looking good.”

Alongside introducing the Ballard’s brands to the schedule, Greyhound will also be launching a craft keg range in response to demand from a key customer, Brighton’s Indigo pub chain.

Two of its 10-strong cask portfolio will initially go into keg: Blonde Bird pale ale, which uses German malt and hops and is described as an ale-lager crossover; and Tree Frog, which features seven different hops.

Trials are under way on a “jury-rigged kegging set-up”, and Allen hopes the beers will be in production early in the New Year. “We’re really excited by the prospect.”

New premises are also in Greyhound’s plans.

“Within the next 18 months we’d like to find a location with chimney pots around where we can have a taproom.”

Carola Brown, who is working with the Allens through what she thinks will be “a long handover period”, was delighted with the outcome of the sale.

“They are very nice people who are very keen to keep the Ballard’s name going,” she said. “It’s the next best thing to keeping the brewery in situ.”

She announced, too, that Ballard’s famous annual Beer Walk will be going ahead as usual, starting with breakfast at the Nyewood brewery on Sunday, 3rd December.

Phil Mellows
17th November 2017

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