no. 019 | Vibrant Forest
The closest we’ve stayed to home, batch no. 019 is the somewhat small, but no doubt mighty, Vibrant Forest.
Former IBM IT Consultant Kevin Robinson founded Vibrant Forest brewery in 2011. Perhaps taking inspiration from his tech background, the brewery’s beginnings mirror some of Silicon Valley’s most successful start-ups, with its early days being based out of a garage. It wasn’t until 2013 that he moved to a dedicated site, using his life savings to upgrade his glorified home operation to a fully-fledged, 12-barrel brewery.
Based in the New Forest National Park, Vibrant Forest is probably the brewery closest to Jersey that we’ve showcased. Take the ferry to Poole and you’re less than an hour’s drive away from their brewery and taproom, which is now located in the suburb of Hardley. Here visitors are not only able to enjoy up to 12 of Vibrant Forest’s beers on tap and street food on the weekend; Kevin and the small team also run monthly brewery tours, complete with a complimentary beer on arrival.
Despite their impressively sizeable taproom, Kevin still describes his operation as small. Regardless of size, he’s certainly hands on, having not just brewed the beers we’ve procured, but managed our order from beginning to endt oo. Their modern approach to brewing styles means that everything they produce is unfiltered, unpasteurised and hop forward. With no shortage of pubs – and boasting some of England’s oldest – it’s somewhat ironic that Vibrant Forest don’t sell all that much beer in and around the New Forest. “We’re a very modern brewery making many styles of beer”, says Robinson. “The pubs here prefer more traditional ales”.
It clearly isn’t a set-back, and a lack of local pub demand is more than made up for by orders coming in from France to Finland. This continued demand is allowing Kevin to continue reinvesting into the business, with more recent additions including a canning machine and a cold room. Both allow for an increased focus on freshness and consistency in every beer they brew – and, lucky for us, we get to reap the rewards via these selected cans.