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Our Story

A MICROBREWERY WITH A BIG AMBITION

Tollgate Brewery employs traditional brewing techniques and equipment to craft exceptional ales tailored for modern tastes.

Established in 2005 at the historic Woodville site of Brunt, Bucknall & Co., also known as the Wooden Box Brewery, Tollgate Brewery marks the revival of brewing in Burton since 1832. Originally named Wooden Box after the famous toll booth between Ashby de la Zouch and Burton-upon-Trent, the area became known as ‘Tollgate,’ inspiring the brewery’s name.

In 2012, Tollgate Brewery relocated to the National Trust Calke Abbey Estate, in response to the Estate’s desire to reintroduce brewing. Under new ownership in January 2016, Tollgate Brewery continues its legacy in one of the National Trust’s nineteenth-century farm buildings, operating as a 6-barrel brewery using traditional methods reminiscent of the 1800s.

The National Forest

Recognised as one of the most ambitious and imaginative regeneration projects in the country, The National Forest is 200 square miles of mixed habitat forest, huge green lungs that have breathed life into a landscape and transformed communities and lives.

Farmers have become foresters and children have experienced forest schools with over 9 million trees planted to date. The National Forest is right in the heart of the country, embracing 200 square miles of the Midlands. It spans parts of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire and aims to link the two ancient Forests of Charnwood and Needwood. With a history of coal mining and heavy industry, the landscape is now that of rolling farmland, ancient forests and new planted woodlands. Its main towns and villages include Burton upon Trent (famous for its brewing), Coalville and Swadlincote (formerly associated with the clay and coal mining industries) and the historic town of Ashby-de-la-Zouch.

As part of this partnership we brew 4 beers to celebrate the National Forest and their ongoing effort and support in environment regeneration in our area. Every time a pack of National Forest beers are purchased, a donation is made to the National Forest.

For more information visit www.nationalforest.org

The National Trust

A brewing tradition on the Calke Abbey estate.

Brewing has been a longstanding tradition on the National Trust’s Calke Abbey Estate, dating back several centuries. In the 1800s, one of the primary reasons for brewing was to provide beer for the Estate workers, who were allocated approximately 5-6 pints each day. With the Estate staff numbering close to a thousand in the summer, the brewing operation was substantial. The prevailing belief at the time was that drinking beer contributed to good health, while water consumption often led to illness.

The former Brewhouse, where this historical brewing took place, is now accessible to the public at Calke Abbey as part of the house tour. The traditional equipment, though now somewhat dilapidated, stands as a testament to the brewing legacy. For additional details, visit the National Trust website at nationaltrust.org.uk/calke-abbey.

In our commitment to waste minimization, we conscientiously manage the by-products of our brewing process. Striving to be an environmentally conscious business, we repurpose the ‘waste’ from each brew. Barley remnants left in the mash tun are transported to the nearby farm, less than half a mile away, where they are mixed with silage and used as feed for the pigs. The farm, in turn, supplies meat to the National Trust Calke Abbey Estate kitchens, located another mile away. Used hops are also repurposed on the Calke Abbey Estate, enriching the compost heaps for the gardeners. Spent hops, known for their acidity, are a valuable addition to compost. Feel free to help yourself to any leftover hops at the brewery.

… AND OUR RECENT HISTORY

In 2015, Jamie, then 32 and working as a graphic designer for a midlands-based marketing agency, found himself at a career crossroads. Passionate about real ale and residing in Melbourne, South Derbyshire, he contemplated his next move while working part-time at a local micro-pub. During a brewery tour, Jamie learned that Tollgate Brewery’s owners, Pat and Quentin, were considering selling after five years of ownership, presenting an opportunity for him.

Pat and Quentin had acquired Tollgate Brewery in August 2011, relocating it from Tollgate Island, Woodville, Derbyshire, to the National Trust’s Calke Abbey Estate in March 2012. Having recently returned from living and working in the USA, they were contemplating retirement by 2015.

Before 2013, Jamie had worked as a graphic designer for a large Facilities Management Business headquartered in Leicester. Observing the retirement journey of Kevin, the MD and founder of that business, Jamie stayed in touch. Kevin, growing bored of retirement by January 2015, became the majority shareholder of Tollgate Brewery. Jamie, now the Operations Director, and Dan, the Head Brewer, became shareholders. Pat and Quentin retained a shareholding, and other staff members and former business colleagues of Kevin purchased shares too.

With investment and hard work from shareholders and friends, Tollgate Brewery has transformed significantly since 2016. Operating at full capacity, it supplies cask, bottled, and keg beers to three pubs, a brewery tap, and trade customers throughout the year.