Box Steam Brewery

box steam brewery logoBox Steam Brewery produce a fine selection of real ales in my home county of Wiltshire, last Autumn they moved from their location in Colerne to a larger site in Holt, I was lucky enough to visit them and see how some of my favourite local beers are made.

Box Steam aim for a quality product, their beers are clear cut and clean and demonstrate what can be achieved in making traditional British real ales. Their range has what you would expect for a producer of real ales, from bitters and best bitters to golden beers and dark porter style beers.

The Box Steam Brewery Brand

Box Steam Brewery branding is well defined, the theme of the railway, Victorian engineering and the achievements of Brunel are shown throughout. The styling of the bottle labels is to look like parchment with engineering sketches and each of the beers has a suitably railway inspired name. This I feel really brings the branding together and appeals to those who have a love of the railway, engineering and I hope appeals to those who like a good British beer.

The theme of railways comes from the breweries association with the railways via it’s original site overlooking Box. At Box is the entrance to the famous Box Tunnel as created by Brunel in the 1830s, this is depicted in much of the iconography of Box Steam Brewery and even gives it’s name to one of their beers – Tunnel Vision.

box steam brewery tunnel packagingBut Box Steam Brewery shines beyond just the look, the beer is superb. I often meet those who are looking for a good brown beer, not too hoppy or over the top in strength. Box delivers this with their range all being on the sessionable side in ABV (3.8-4.5%) and packing some real flavours.

I was met by Kevin Newbould, key accounts director at Box Steam Brewery. He showed me round the brewery and then we sat down to talk beer. He felt that the branding of Box Steam had been a great success, it is “aimed at the top end of the market” and then “backed up by quality and consistency”. The individual beers are aimed to become well known and then as a whole the brand holds together. The first time a beer is sold is often on the strength of the brand, that people come back to a beer is a measure of the beer’s quality.

box steam brewery fermentation vessels FVsI asked what the challenges to brewing currently are, Kevin gave the same impression that I have been getting from all brewers recently. Although the market is strong in terms of more people enjoying beer and importantly enjoying high quality beers, the challenges of high levels of duty both on brewers and at the pump are making a very difficult environment. Brewers are looking for ways to differentiate themselves and at the same time reduce their production costs. Box Steam Brewery made the move to the larger brewery partly to try and reduce the overheads as well as fulfil demand.

box steam brewery tunnel vision new metal pump clipAs for future developments for Box Steam Brewery, they have a visitors centre and shop and hope to be able to expand in this area by putting on functions or catering for group tours. Kevin has recently returned from a visit to America where a few beers are already going down very well – “Funnel Blower went down well in America, it has the WOW factor”. Another possibility is the move to larger 750ml “sharing” bottled beer aimed at those who like to enjoy a beer with company over a meal. The site is set up for an increase in capacity with space for a further two fermenting vessels showing that Box Steam Brewery have big plans.

Box Steam Brewery Beers

The beers which Box Steam Brewery produces cover the full range of classic real ale styles, they also have a range of seasonal beers including a mild for May Tender Mild and two Christmas beers Xmas Box  – Dark and Xmas Box Blonde.

Chuffin’ Ale is Box Steam Brewery’s session bitter, a fruity traditional bitter, this beer has a smooth malty character with caramel flavours, a little under hopped for me but the malts are good.
Funnel Blower was originally named Vanilla Porter but was renamed in 2009 to better align with the Brunel theme. Funnel Blower is a dark malty porter with vanilla overtones. Funnel Blower was my first experience of Box Steam Brewery beer and has won many awards which are in my opinion well deserved.
Golden Bolt is Box Steam’s regular gold session bitter, this beer is very flavoursome for it’s ABV with citrus start, biscuity malt and well hopped end – not bad for 3.8%.
Probably my favourite Box Steam beer, Piston Broke is mild in flavour but very good for a short session (a little strong for a long night), it has delicious malt characteristics and a smooth hoppy end.
 box steam brewery steam porter Another porter, this time focusing on the earthy, smoky roasted flavours which the style can offer. Not a beer I have had many times, but on the occasion that I have it has been good. Would appeal to those who like roasted malts and coffee flavours over fruitiness.
  Probably the best known and most iconic beer from Box Steam Brewery is Tunnel Vision, this medium colour bitter has a lovely fruity malty flavour which sits somewhere between the traditional bitter and strong ale flavours.

Box Steam Brewery beers are available both across the UK and internationally. if you are in the area then you can also buy direct from the gift shop and even pick up a “beer in a box” for an event or party (contact in advance for the “beer in a box”).

For contact details and further information on the range of Box Steam Brewery beers look on their recently revamped website at www.boxsteambrewery.co.uk

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