Ben Richards

Ben Richards remains on course to produce a beer using just ingredients grown or gathered from his allotment in Colyton, East Devon.

Gone are the gas canisters, discarded pallets and broken glass, and the land has now been used to grow organic barley and four varieties of hops, collect rainwater and, with the help of researchers at the University of Exeter, find and isolate a yeast culture that can be used to brew.

Ben is more than halfway through the project and has seen his fair share of problems as storms, pests, livestock, an unusually hot spring and a predictably wet summer have all brought setbacks and challenges.

He said: “Some of these have threatened the chances of producing any beer come the end of the project, but with help and guidance from a range of experts and hundreds of hours spent preparing, planting or collecting the ingredients, I’m now in the midst of harvest and the final brew is fast approaching.”

It won’t be clear until after the harvest how much beer can be made, but Ben is hopeful that by November he will be able to show that it is possible to brew entirely from one small piece of land, and that he can share the results with those that have helped and advised him so far.

“As well as creating the finished beer, I’ve been producing a podcast that follows my journey through the entire year. Launched on September 27, listeners can follow every step, from the first cold mornings to the final tasting, as Growing Beer condenses a year into ten-weekly episodes.

“Each week will cover one month of 2017, come directly from the allotment shed and include interviews and guidance from leading figures and experts in the worlds of gardening and brewing.”

Ambitious project

David Cunningham, programme director of There’s A Beer For That, which is supporting Ben’s ambition of growing beer, said: “Ben is approaching the culmination of his ambitious project and his podcast will be a fascinating insight into the challenges he’s faced — and overcome — and tell a captivating story about producing Britain’s favourite alcoholic drink.

“Recent research conducted by There’s A Beer For That for British Food Fortnight revealed that, while two-thirds of Britons said natural ingredients in food and drink are important to them, they are even more discerning in respect of beer, with 88% believing natural ingredients to be important when choosing a beer.

“In their quest for a quality glass of beer, Ben’s podcast will be essential listening for all those consumers who are interested in its ingredients as well as so many others who maybe take the skill required to brew their favourite beer for granted.”

• The Growing Beer podcast will be available for free from iTunes (search Growing Beer) and, while updates, news and images from the project can be found on the website, on Twitter (@growingbeer), Facebook (/growingbeer) and Instagram (@growingbeer).