An Easter cask ale festival will be held in April to celebrate 21 years of The Ramsgate Brewery.
In 2002 the first casks of GADDS’ Number 3 Premium Kentish Pale Ale were tapped and drunk in Ramsgate’s Belgian Bar – now the Ramsgate Promenade Market.
The beginning wasn’t without its hiccups but Gadds was here to stay, especially after the first Planet Thanet real ale festival, held at the Monkey House in Ramsgate, proved there was an eager market – in fact all the ale for the festival was drunk on the first day!
In 2006 boss Eddie Gadd and his team moved to the current premises at Pysons Road Industrial Estate and in the following years the real ale movement saw a fresh boom.
Eddie said: “Local publicans were at last open to the idea that cask ale might just work for them. Sales rose strongly and we rebuilt the brewery, purchasing Dark Star’s old kit and tripling capacity.
“By this time we had long had our core beer range of Numbers 3, 5 and 7, alongside Seasider and Dogbolter, and we organised our specials into an annual seasonal range, adding such beers as She Sells Seashells, Rye Pale Ale and Summer’s Day.”
The trend of micro-pubs followed a change in licensing laws in 2005 and in Ramsgate The Conquerer was opened by Colin Aris in 2010 followed by The Bake and Ale House and the Four Candles and many more.
Today, The Ramsgate Brewery has a team of around 10 people and brews a magnificent one million pints per year.
The site, which added a taproom in 2019, brews ales for venues across East Kent, including the Montefiore Arms and The Ravensgate Arms, both of which the brewery owns.
From 2020, during the time of the covid pandemic and lockdowns, a home delivery service was established to keep the brewery afloat although there was a drop in beer consumption.
Changing habits over the pandemic have been challenging for many businesses but Eddie is optimistic for the real ale trade.
He said: “Cask ale is the fastest, freshest way of producing beer, with the very least amount of processing, and, delivered to and drunk in a local pub it has the smallest carbon footprint of all the beers. It’s also extremely delicious, and these attributes will ensure cask ale will survive, and flourish, long into the future.”
And the carbon footprint is the focus for the future. Eddie, who was previously an engineer, was the first small brewery to trial a CO2 capture device. Large breweries already use equipment for this but now, for the first time, it has been adapted for those on a smaller producing level.
The Ramsgate Brewery led the way last Summer with some other businesses due to install the equipment soon.
Eddie said: “We are pioneering it. We have just won a sustainable business award from trade association Siba for it and we are going around doing presentations. Basically, we are trying to champion this. My background is engineering so I understand how it works but I also have 30 years in brewing so understand how that works too.
“So, we have a part to play in bridging the gap between brewing language and engineering language, so I sit in the middle helping to translate.”
The device captures CO2 during the fermentation process. This is created when sugar is fermented to alcohol. The CO2 can then be reused and can be sold on to other businesses, such as soft drink suppliers, meaning there is an income, no outlay purchasing ever-more expensive CO2 -used for bottling, kegging and canning- as well as a reduced footprint.
The brewery, which also has solar panels, is looking at sustainability for the future rather than more business expansion, something his children approve of.
He said: “There are no plans to grow massively, although we could do a little bit more each year, but generally the focus is becoming the most sustainable small brewery possible and, hopefully, showing some leadership in that.”
The 21 years of the brewery will be celebrated at the site on April 7-8 with beers from 21 breweries picked by Eddie.
The event at Gadds Taproom runs from noon to 5pm bth days and features music from Bower Street Morris, Gaddzukes and Dead Horse & The Broomdashers. Food will be served up by Urban Grillaz and Karara.
Gadds Taproom is at 4 Hornet Close on the Pysons Industrial Estate.
Shivering Sands brewery and tap room in Manston is also running an ale festival on the same dates, with food and music, and a shuttle bus will run between there and Gadds on both days.