Frits Takken went from a disastrous first kit-brew to creating a successful microbrewery with no investment capital. We chat with Frits to hear all about the journey along the way.
Getting creative with resources
“The Buckland Brewers were started at my home in the Parish of Buckland Brewer in North Devon, and consists of all my family members. They all helped me greatly when I first started out.
I have been a home brewer since my student days when I made my first brew from a kit using concentrate. It was a disaster! But I hate it when I am not able to do something, you know, so I persisted and my beer became more drinkable.
When my oldest daughter became interested in homebrewing she discovered that it had progressed to embrace all grain brewing. I built her first brewery using a big cool box converted into a mash tun. A kind brewer donated an old keg, which was converted into a boiler. We used a big gas burner with that and had a coiled copper cooler and a plastic fermenter. The total cost was probably under £50.
The first brew day was exciting and had a steep learning curve. However, the resulting beer blew us away. For the first time ever we had brewed a beer that was far and away better than anything in the shops!
Very quickly, our friends realised we were able to brew good beer and started putting in requests for parties and weddings. My daughter then decided that the next big thing was to buy a Grainfather all-in-one brewing system. This was another step up from our cool box, and the beer kept improving.
Turning the dream into reality
Whenever I had a moan about my job – as you do – my daughter would say “why don’t you start a brewery?” But I never took her seriously. Until one holiday in Ireland when she took me to a small brewery on the side of a mountain which used second hand dairy equipment to produce small bottles of bottle conditioned beer. They were selling everything they could make. That was when I started to believe in the idea of creating my own brewery.
One slight problem: I had no capital for this project and a big loan was not going to happen. But my daughter produced two recipes for me and I went ahead and registered with HMRC, the council, trading standards etc who were all very good and didn’t mind me starting out in my kitchen.
Going all in
People like my beer and I am selling through some 35 outlets here locally. I have now moved into a converted stable using a self build 200L brewery that is constantly being improved. This was financed by the sales produced in the kitchen. I am just about to retire from my daytime job and intend to brew full time.
The Buckland Brewer Brews
I should explain here that I am Dutch and love the continental beers. I know that in the UK there is a long history of real ale, and the most popular at the moment seems to be the IPA. So being the rebel that I am I decided that I would produce continental style beers in the traditional Belgian style bottles. I started with a Belgian Blonde and a Belgian style Red Ale. I sold just those two for twelve months and they proved to be very popular. I now do seven different beers, some of which are a bit more obscure like my Bok Bier, a German style dark lager.
There are so many excellent hops now available to us. My beers are more malty than hoppy but I like the German lager hops like Perle and Saaz. I am also very excited about Citra and Mosaic, which I like in a stout. Galaxy and Cascade are very nice too.”
Get the beers in!
Find The Buckland Brewers brews in various outlets in North Devon. Or buy direct from the brewery.
All images by The Buckland Brewers