Chesterfield pub will be home to town’s smallest commercial brewery
An experienced brewer will raise a glass to his new venture when he launches Chesterfield’s smallest commercial brewery in a pub where his wife is licensee.
Josh Clarke is aiming to get his business up and running at the beginning of February, producing cask ale exclusively for The Chesterfield Arms and bottled brews to sell at delicatessens, farm shops, markets and online.
"I aim to make every style of beer that you can make," said Josh. "Early brews will be tailored to what sells well in The Chesterfield Arms so we might start with pale ales, IPAs, ESBs, and with it being winter, stouts and porters.
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“We have a 400 litre kit and we would hope to brew twice a week to start with but that will go up on demand. Quality and consistency are the most important things in this game - nothing will go on the bar that I'm not 100 percent happy with.
"We're only going to be taking up three of the 12 hand pumps that are at The Chesterfield Arms which means we can rotate the brews very quickly. We could get five or six different beers on these hand pumps in a week. It's nice to give customers that choice and it will give the pub a unique selling point.
"Once we get up and running with that, I hope to keg a small amount of beer that a local wholesaler says he will take whatever I have left of that so it will stay around the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire area."
Like the 19th century pub in which the micro-brewery is based, Josh was determined to preserve the town’s history in the branding of the new business. He chose Resting Devil, a name inspired by the fable of how the town’s landmark church got its crooked spire. Josh said: "I remember the folk tale my grandmother told me when I was a child. I wanted the brewery to have its own identity and some narrative that would flow through all our products – the story is true to Chesterfield but some people will have to ask what Resting Devil is about so straightaway you have a tale to tell.
"I've got a big spreadsheet with about 300 folklore legends. As we go foward we can pick beer names that will link to the beer or where that style of beer is originally from.
"If someone cannot see a pump clip but can see a piece of chalk writing on the board and see that it's named after a folk tale, in time they will say 'I bet that's a Resting Devil beer."
Dad of two Josh, 38, initially became interested in brewing through his seven-year employment at Brampton Brewery where he was first taken on as a delivery driver and was later trained up as a brewer. He said: “I found out that I had quite a passion for it.”
Josh then worked at Thornbridge Brewery in Bakewell for five years where he was in charge of their small batch brewery specialising in cask beer.
While working at Thornbridge, Josh and his wife Emma became business owners of The Chesterfield Arms on Newbold Road where Emma is the licensee. Josh said: "Just before Covid happened, we started talking about maybe taking on a second pub but having a brew pub so that it was something I could continue to do what I like doing and shore up our business.
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"Then Covid hit so any big investment in a second site was ruled out because you don't know what the market's going to be like for the next few years.
"My wife got pregnant again so it became obvious that if we had to concentrate on getting the pub back on its feet and Emma having time to be a mum, it was best if I left Thornbridge and stopped talking about it and put the brewery into action.”
The micro-brewery has been created in a back room, known as The Barn, at The Chesterfield Arms. Josh said: "It is a brick, high-roofed, building that we rent out for functions. We've taken out the back quarter of it, we've built a wall up and there are two big windows in it with the brewery behind there. Our storage area is the pub's chilled cellar with what’s already in there so we can't go into mass-scale production.
"It's been well over a year in planning. We were hoping to be up and running at the beginning of October, to have the product on the bar from November but there have been hold-ups. Our builder was the first person on site to get the room ready and found that the drainage system we needed wasn't available in this country. He spent weeks trying to find other substitutes and in the end just had to wait for it which put him seven weeks behind; the double-glazed panels for the window took nine weeks to turn up as there is a glass shortage and every tradesman seems to be twice as busy now as they were before lockdown."
While the micro-brewery is under construction, Josh has worked as a pizza chef in the pub on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. He said: "I'll be a cook one day, repairing a piece of furniture the next day."
Emma and Josh have years’ of experience in the licensing business in Chesterfield, honing their craft at The Rutland, The Royal Oak in The Shambles and the Tramway Tavern on Chatsworth Road.