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Ale Mary! Plans to put brewery in old church near Ross-on-Wye
Stuart Fraser is leading a team looking at turning St Michael's at Brampton Abbotts in to a microbrewery.
WATER could be turned into real ale if plans to redevelop a church near Ross-on-Wye are successful.
St Michael’s at Brampton Abbotts has been closed for a number of years but its doors could be back open – as a microbrewery.
Stuart Fraser, chairman of the Regeneration Group behind the plans, said: “The Hereford diocese asked the people of Brampton Abbotts if we wanted to do something with the church, because otherwise it would end up being a ruin or sold.
“If we did want to do something with it, then we would have to come up with an idea that could generate some income.
“I was once walking my dogs and thought that it would be great if we could turn it into a microbrewery.
“Herefordshire is famous for its cider and we have loads of apples here.”
Mr Fraser admits that plans are at a very early stage but the group is optimistic.
He added: “I know nothing about breweries and some people may think that it is a stupid idea, but then there may be someone who has an uncle who is a managing director of a brewery somewhere and wants to use another outlet.
“We want to keep the building alive, and if it creates employment and brings something back to Ross and the surrounding area, then great.
“But, it has to be a business model and we know that it will be a four to five-year development that will have to last for at least 50 years.”
Other ideas that the group has pitched include converting the church into a biomass centre that will be used for renewable fuel or opening up a “21st century kitchen” that can be used for cookery lessons.
Mark Haslam, public affairs officer for the Herefordshire branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), said that he is not aware of any other churches that have been converted into a microbrewery.
“They will certainly enter into a competitive market, but I wouldn’t want to put them off,” he said.
“If they get their products rights, then there is no reason why they cannot make it a success.”
An open day is to be held at Brampton Abbotts Village Hall on Sunday from 11am to 2.30pm where all the ideas will be put forward.
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