David Bevan, Ilkka Martikainen and Andrew Muggeridge all have children at South Farnham Infant School, and launched their ‘Farnham Brewing Co’ brand in early 2022 to supply alcohol – including £1,000 of booze for free – to the Bourne Show.
But after learning this summer that Pierrepont tenant brewery Craft Brews was expected to leave the farm, they took their first step towards turning this brand into their very own commercial brewery.
The trio didn’t foresee what would happen when news of Craft Brews’ departure became public knowledge this autumn, when a campaign and petition was launched by Craft Brews regulars to save the outgoing brewery.
And after becoming the target of “internet trolls” themselves in recent weeks, the trio have insisted they had nothing to do with the CRT’s decision to sever ties with Craft Brews – and made contact with the farm owners only in June, a month after learning the brewery had been served a landlord’s break notice in May.
Farnham Brewing Co is also yet to finalise a lease with the CRT, and their ambitious plans to transform the farm brewery into a seven-day tap bar serving gastro pub-quality lunches alongside brewery-fresh beer will be subject to planning permission.
However, they are hopeful of unveiling their new brewery and tap room early next year – and are currently on the lookout for a head brewer with knowledge of the trade.
One member of the trio, Ilkka Martikainen, is already based at Pierrepont Farm as owner of Finntage Interiors and he spoke of the upset caused to them personally by the speculation around Craft Brews and Pierrepont Farm.
“There are so many rumours flying around and it’s not been nice to be called ‘back-stabber’ and stuff like this on social media when it’s completely untrue,” said Ilkka.
“I’ve never been the subject of a social media hate campaign before, and it appears to be a very small group of very loud people who spew this stuff, and they have just fabricated all these stories about us. It’s not nice.”
David Bevan, a keen home-brewer who has worked in the pub trade for a quarter of a century and owns a bar in Balham and a pub near Tower Bridge, added he and his other businesses have also come under attack online.
“The annoying thing is it has become an uphill battle before we’ve even got started on the brewery,” said David.
“At the end of the day we’ve just applied for a lease on a building that’s going vacant. If we don’t do it, someone else will do it.”
David added he had been looking for somewhere to brew his own beer “for a couple of years”, and he hopes the Frensham brewery will in time be able to supply beer to his pubs in London and other local pubs – as well as encouraging a thriving daytime and early-evening trade at Pierrepont Farm seven days a week, with occasional later evening events.
On the jibes he ‘is not a brewer, just a pub owner’, David said he is “passionate” about selling great-quality beer and intends to start with cask ales, before moving into pale ales and IPAs.
But he added it is his intention to run the brewery “as a business, not just a hobby”, and wants Farnham Brewing Co to be “big enough that it can employ five or six people”, including a full-time brewer and two chefs.
To this end, the brewery would likely be located behind the current brewery building in a shipping container “blended” into its environment – allowing for a professional kitchen to be installed in the farm building.
Ilkka said: “We are fully aware that a very small group of people are spreading the hate, while the majority don’t care, don’t even know this place exists or they can understand that there are two sides to every story.”