Set in a rural area of west Gloucestershire, England and also within the Forest of Dean, Hillside Brewery is in an idyllic location. From their hilltop outdoor seating area, you can see the Cotswolds in the distance and during a walk around the property itself it’s serene to hear the birds chirping and see the owner’s sheep wandering around the acreage.
As soon as I entered the reception at Hillside Brewery, I was warmly greeted by the reception employees, who also manage the brewery store. After a few minutes I was led into the room where my tasting room would be, and was introduced to Peter, who would be doing my tasting – and is also the father half of the father and son duo that own Hillside Brewery.
The tasting started with Peter pulling four beers out and telling us that he purposely chose beers that are on totally different ends of the spectrum – and warning us that there’s a good chance we may not like all of them! Over the course of the hour and a half or so that we tasted – each ‘taste’ was actually a half pint! – I was pleasantly happy to say that I did indeed like all four. Over The Hill and Summit stood out particularly to me – Over The Hill being a malty dark mild, and Summit being a ruby ale with hints of chocolate.
The great part of doing a tasting with an owner is that there’s a level of passion that is obviously innately there. Having studied business management in university, I was fascinated to learn about how the business runs, especially as Peter showed us their different yeast and hops options and how they particularly try to buy from within the country as to keep their beer ingredients locally sourced. During our walk around the brewery towards the end of the tour, we also saw the different machinery used to brew beer and were told how it all works.
Keeping with the local, Peter told us that one of the laborers on the farm that he bought the property from is now their master brewer – they invested in him and he has shown a real passion and inclination for brewing – if that’s not a good employment practice, I’m not sure what is! When I asked Peter if he had any sort of background in beer making before starting Hillside, he said he didn’t but really just enjoys learning – judging by their success thus far I’d say this approach has worked!
In addition to Hillside Brewery’s great views and brews, they are environmentally friendly. Since brewing beer requires a lot of energy, Peter and his son Paul looked into how they could best manage their consumption needs. This led to them installing air and ground source heat pumps, which create enough sustainable energy that they are able to sell power back to the UK government! They also use solar power and have recycling as a main goal of their green ethos.
Hillside Brewery is also the perfect place to host functions. They have an events room available with a fully stocked bar, and an even larger space for events and tastings is being built – making the Hillside Brewery the perfect place for weddings, corporate retreats, birthday parties, and hen and stag do’s.
Adjacent to brewery is their activities company, Battlesport Gloucester, which offers laser combat, archery, bush craft, and team building events. Many groups visiting the brewery combine activities with a brewery tasting for a full day of fun (don’t worry; the activities are before the drinking!).
After a lovely afternoon at Hillside, I picked up a few brews of my own to take home – my piece of a great brewery that I hope to return to soon.
Many thanks to Hillside Brewery for my brewery tour and tasting. All views and opinions are, as always, my own.
Getting there: If possible, I would recommend driving. You can also take bus 33 from Gloucester Bus Station to the May Hill bus stop which is just a short four minute walk from the brewery. Do note that buses don’t run frequently so you will need to plan ahead. Bus schedule here.
Tasting options: All tastings are an hour and a half and include a tasting of four beers. My tasting was £15, or for £25 four beers to take home is included.