Devon LivingIssue #04
A family drink
We discover more about the family behind Red Rock Brewery in Bishopsteignton and the key to producing an expertly crafted beer.
With this issue’s opening feature taking a tasting tour of Devon’s excellent drinks producers, we wanted to find out a little more about the family values at the heart of Red Rock Brewery. Founded in 2006 by a local Devon family, father and son John and Lewis Parkes set out on a journey to establish a homegrown microbrewery and Red Rock Brewery was born. Sister Hollie joined the team two years later and, since John’s retirement in October 2017, now heads up the processing department.
“It’s not just about brewing good beer – it’s about brewing outstanding beer that people enjoy drinking”
The brewery really is a family business that’s grown from humble beginnings to an established and credible enterprise – along with Lewis and Hollie, there’s sister Hannah who manages the office and mum, Jackie, who looks after the onsite tap bar, plus another four team members each with their own roles in the day-to-day running of the brewery. The name itself is inspired by a renowned local landmark, the Red Rock situated on the River Teign estuary.
A government grant awarded in 2015 allowed Red Rock to expand into a further barn where a new bottling line was installed, reducing production time by more than half and increasing capacity. The brewery now supplies a large selection of local pubs, restaurants and hotels as well as farm shops, off licences, wholesalers and, most recently, a number of Morrisons stores as part of its local supplier pledge.
Despite its growth, Red Rock hasn’t lost its homegrown roots or its artisan way of producing the beers. This still remains at the heart of it all. Brewing on a farm in the south Devon hills has its challenges at times, but for Lewis and John the location of the brewery was as important as the beer itself. With generous support from local farmers, Geoff and Joe Lang at Higher Humber Farm in Bishopsteignton, Red Rock’s first beer – the aptly named Red Rock best bitter – was brewed in a renovated barn. The brewery’s ethos has always been to produce innovative beers with bold, distinctive flavours. Lewis is a trained chef and former brewer for Teignworthy so maximising flavour is a fundamental element of the business for him. It’s not just about brewing good beer – it’s about brewing outstanding beer that people enjoy drinking as much as he enjoys making it! Supporting local is also an important part of Red Rock Brewery. Where possible Red Rock will source the finest, local ingredients including their own pure spring water, which gives each beer its individual character. Red Rock produces an extensive range of eight traditional cask conditioned real ales. These are the pioneering beers of the brewery offering a variety of flavours to reflect the seasons, from crisp, light summer ales to hearty full strength winter brews. This time of year, it’s the light, golden session ales that prove popular. The Lighthouse IPA is a best seller and is much in demand.
In recent years, Red Rock has introduced a new and edgy range of craft beers, including its multi-award winning Devon Pilsner. Lewis initially produced it for the brewery’s onsite tap bar, but such was its popularity it’s now a bestseller, served on draught in many venues across the south west. There are also three others in the range and a limited edition IPA.
The final and most recent additions are the award-winning ‘Slow’ beers. As the name suggests, these flavoured beers are inspired by a Think Tank – The World Institute of Slowness; the belief being that slower thinking and slower producing will improve quality of life and production. The concept is simple – if you drink a beer slow, you will experience more.
Using locally-sourced ingredients, the brewery’s Slow beers pay homage to the slowness and beauty of the natural environment surrounding them. The award-winning Honey beer is brewed using honey sourced from Haldon Hill; the blackberries that flavour the Blackberry Slow are from a farm across the River Teign, and the elderflowers are sourced from the farm itself.
Whatever your tipple of choice, you’re guaranteed to find something that leaves you refreshed and rewarded from Red Rock Brewery, a true Devon brewery, with family at its heart.
REGIONAL AWARD WINNERS
The Brewery has enjoyed success over recent years for their brews including:
SIBA Gold Regional winner for Devon Pilsner in 2016 & 2017
SIBA Silver Regional winner for Slow Elderflower IPA in 2016
SIBA Silver Regional winner for Slow Original in 2017
SIBA Gold Regional winner for Slow Honey in 2018
"It’s not just about brewing good beer – it’s about brewing outstanding beer that people enjoy drinking"