We’ve lived near the New River on and off, since the mid 1990’s and have always enjoyed walking along its pathways. In early 2014, when we were thinking about starting a brewery, the New River had just celebrated its 400th anniversary and was, uncharacteristically, getting a fair bit of local attention. We saw an interesting parallel between the fresh water supplied by the New River and the fresh beer we would be brewing! As below, we also saw how vulnerable the New River had been in the past and how it would benefit from more local support. New River Brewery was incorporated in July 2014.
The New River was saved from extinction in the 1980’s by a local campaign (similar to the way in which CAMRA saved Real Ale from the stranglehold of the Big Six breweries*). In 1985 Thames Water Authority was proposing to close the New River and sell the land to developers. A group called the New River Action Group (“NRAG”) was formed and lobbied successfully to prevent the closure. In fact, their campaign was so successful that Thames Water eventually invested significant sums to help preserve the New River and to open its pathways to members of the public.
The NRAG still performs a valuable role, monitoring planning applications and conducting regular guided walks along the New River. Our brewery is located on the banks of the New River in Hoddesdon (**). Perfectly situated to give its walkers a well needed watering hole along their way!
We want to help raise the profile of the New River and help ensure that it is protected for future generations
* At a similar time in the 1980s, the "Big Six" breweries dominated and commoditised the production of beer, and had a stranglehold on the UK's pubs. The future of Real Ale looked bleak but CAMRA (based in St Albans) campaigned successfully for new legislation. The Beer Orders were introduced which limited the number of pubs that a brewery could own. Some larger breweries ceased producing beer to focus solely on being Pub Companies and this facilitated the gradual resurgence of independent breweries producing Real Ale. The rest is history!
** The New River’s waters are protected so we don’t draw our brewing water directly from its flow. However, the local water supply has a very similar chemical composition as it also comes from local aquifers and local waterways.