I first spotted Howard Tucker at the Hill Road Sunday Market and expressed some surprise because I didn’t know that Clevedon had a micro-brewery! I certainly couldn’t remember seeing it! The Glede Micro – Brewery, Shop and Tap Bar (known by some as Tucker’s Tap Bar) is actually tucked away in a modern unit on the Tweed Road Industrial Estate in Clevedon which Howard and his wife Dawn have fitted out for the sole purpose of becoming “Clevedon’s only Micro-Brewery”. Prior to embarking on this new venture Howard was a director of a technology business for 20 years but changed his career path when he realised he could actually follow his passion and make beer for a living!
Howard’s six core beers are named after family members: Tucker’s Luck, Tucker’s Nuts and Tucker’s Tipple carry the family name, Golden Dawn is named after his wife, Brett’s Best is named after his youngest son, his IPA style beer, JPA is named after his oldest son Jason and Percy’s Porter, after his 94 year old father. The latter is the nearest he could get to the original bottled Guinness which is his father’s favourite tipple. Howard also creates two seasonal beers, this year he has done a wheat beer – Weston’s Grand Bier (as opposed to Weston’s Grand Pier) and a winter ale – Welcome to Winter which includes chocolate malt and is infused with cinnamon to give it a festive flavour. He has plans for a brand new beer in the Spring, an anniversary ale to celebrate his 30 year wedding anniversary.
Howard’s business started out as The Red Kite Brewing Company and was founded in 2016 in the village of Naphill in Buckinghamshire, an area where red kites abound. On arriving in Clevedon, he changed the name to the Glede Brewing Company due to a trademark conflict. Glede, is the old English name for red kite, a magnificently graceful bird of prey, unmistakable with its reddish brown body, angled wings and deeply forked tail. It was saved from national extinction by one of the world’s longest running protection programmes and has now been successfully introduced to England and Scotland. Glede also means joy and happiness in Norwegian.
Howard’s aim is to deliver traditionally crafted real ales using naturally floor dried malts combined with UK, Continental & New World hops to give a varied selection of fine tasting refreshing and full flavoured real ales.
I enjoyed looking around the main brewing area and learning about the brewing process. The Brewery is an 8 Barrel Brewery (8BBL) a barrel in old English barrel terms is the equivalent of 163 litres (36 gallons in old money) which gives Howard the capacity of brewing 1300 litres in one batch. However, he brews to half capacity, 4 barrels at a time, which is 652 litres, the equivalent of 16 casks of beer. Of those casks, he sets aside two for bottling which yields about 150 bottles from each batch, all of which he bottles himself.
In the main brewing area at the end, there is the hot liquor tank which stores water to make the beer; the water is actually treated to make it more acceptable for the beer. The water is then mixed in the middle vessel, (known as the mash tun) with crushed malt which creates a mash. Mashing is the brewer’s term for the hot water steeping process which hydrates the malted barley, activates the malt enzymes, and converts the grain starches into fermentable sugars. Depending on which malted barley is used the malts give the beer the colour and a certain amount of flavour. The mashing produces a sweet fermentable liquor known as WORT, this is transferred to the kettle, where it is boiled and the hops are added; the hops give the beer its bitterness and aroma.
There are over 150 varieties of hop and the style of hops determines the flavour of the beer. One of Howard’s recipes requires hops from America and a couple require hops from New Zealand and Australia but all of Howard’s hops are supplied by a company in the UK called Charles Faram who has been established as a merchant of hops and hop products for over 150 years. The company, which was originally based in Worcester, now resides in the small hamlet of Newland, situated at the foot of the picturesque Malvern Hills.
Once the boil is done with all the hops, the mix is cooled and transferred into the fermenting vessels, the yeast is added and it goes through the fermentation process turning the fermentable sugars into alcohol which takes about a week to ten days. It goes directly from the fermenters into casks where the beer will condition for a week or two depending on the required style and strength when it then becomes ready for public consumption
Brewing is a very manual process but not even the used raw ingredients are wasted. The spent grains go to a local sheep farmer as animal feed and the used hops go to the local allotment for compost.
Howard gave me lots of ideas for presents! As well as vouchers, there is a thriving Glede Members’ Club which costs £30 a year and includes a taster pack of beers (one of each of the bottled beer) and a glass.
There is a members’ evening once a month and members can bring one guest who benefits from the member’s discount. In October, they did a cheese and beer tasting and last month they did a wine tasting with Gerhard Perold http://peroldwinecellar.co.uk/our-story/ who sells the South African wine at the Clevedon Sunday Market. You can also purchase a brewery tour for up to twenty people and a brewing experience for up to three people which cost from £60 and last a day. Last year he helped someone recreate his favourite beer from the 70s; they then served the beer to friends and family at the tap bar and gave a talk about it.
Howard also hosts two open events a year, one in June and one in September, as well as occasional live music evenings which he posts on Facebook. He is opening this Sunday, 23rd December for some Christmas cheer and beer with music from Sweet Harmony and Doug Fraser. Sweet Harmony are a very talented Clevedon based vocal trio: Kiana Ashton, Mollie Kent and Jess Prescott who specialise in swing, jazz and retro pop. A great time was had by all. – Keep an eye on @Gledebrewing.co.uk on Facebook for future events.
Howard has grand plans for expansion and I am sure if anyone can do it he can! He explained that a brewery is measured in terms of the number of hectolitres it produces; last year he produced just over 100HL, this year his aim was for 200 and it looks like he will just get over that planned 200HL, all of which represents a very healthy growth. His aim is to do half as much again next year. Howard supplies Brockley Stores, the Rugby Club and the Cricket Club and he has a Beer Festival planned with the local Lions Club in October; he will also be running a beer tent at the Classic Car Festival. The area Howard would most like to develop is his sale of cask ales directly to pubs, a very competitive market, difficult to break into, especially in Clevedon where most of the pubs are tied into the bigger houses like Punch Tavern and Enterprise Inns.
If you haven’t visited Tuckers Tap Bar, you really should go along, you’d be assured of a very warm welcome. The opening hours are:
Thursday 1.00pm – 6.00pm
Friday 1.00pm – 6.00pm
Saturday 1.00pm – 6.00pm
I really enjoyed talking to you Howard; I learnt a lot. All the best for 2019.