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A Brief Beery History
Established as the Matthews Brewing Co in 2005 by Stuart Matthews and Sue Appleby in a farm workshop estate in the village of Timsbury, a few miles outside Bath. Using the best ingredients such as Maris Otter malt , this small 5 barrel brewery soon became known for its distinctive, uncompromising ales.
was founded in 2002 by Glen Dawkins with the lease of The Miner’s Arms in St Werburghs, Bristol. A real ale devotee, his first task was to rip out all the ‘smoothflow’ beers and boost the range of cask handpumps.
Four more pubs followed, all strongly focussed on real ales and good times!
Glen acquired Matthews in January 2010 in partnership with two of his oldest friends Tony Arnese and Jane Dutson. Our pub The Hillgrove was one of Matthews first customers, so when Stuart and Sue decided to sell up it seemed a perfect fit; especially as they were already brewing exclusive beers for us.
Dawkins ales are available in great freehouses in the area and all our five award-winning pubs, which continue to stock scores of guest beers from fellow microbrewers too.
In April 2014 our Bristol Blonde won category Gold in the region’s biggest beer contest, and overall Bronze out of over 250 entries! It won again the following year shortly after winning a National Bronze. Our bottled Foresters Black and bottled Ultra also picked up gongs that year.
The next chapter: Dawkins & Georges Ltd
Came into being at the end of August 2014 as the new brewery company, run separately from the Dawkins pubs, which of course continue to serve great Dawkins ales and both sides of the company continued to be headed by Glen.
Mid-2015 we started work building a brand new brewery here in our Bristol heartland.
It's taken several tortuous years of finance-raising and planning (never mind drain digging and concrete laying) but the move has long been the aim of founder, Glen Dawkins.
"Our existing brewery is on a small farm estate in Timsbury, Somerset; we'll miss it there. Originally set up by Stuart Matthews and Sue Appleton in 2005 as a five barrel plant, one of our pubs, The Hillgrove, was an early customer. As time went on, the quality of Stuart's ales was such that all our pubs were taking it and we soon became his biggest customer. When he decided to leave brewing to devote more time to his family we were the natural purchaser.
Over the years we've added to and reconfigured the brewery so it is now effectively 7-8 barrels in size; but even so there isn't much left after supplying the five Dawkins pubs. The new custom-built brewery will be three times the capacity and be better geographically to serve our Bristol heartland.
We are in a great brewery zone of Bristol; in very good company of the likes of Arbor Ales, Good Chemistry, Moor, LHG
Recruitment of major new investors means that the brewery is a separate business to the Dawkins pubs, but there is a long term supply agreement which means the pubs will continue as before, selling Dawkins beers alongside ever-changing guests. The brewery will continue to trade as Dawkins Ales, but with a nod to Bristol's rich brewing heritage the new company name is 'Dawkins & Georges Ltd" (Georges being the original brewery at Bristol Bridge before being bought by Courage in 1961).
It took us several months to find the site we wanted and there have been all manner of delays (of course!) There being no record of exactly what planning class the site was (it was documented ok when built in 1968!). Thankfully, our brilliant landlord Richard Parsons steered us through the planning and gained consent.
Custom brewing kit was ordered in Winter 2014 with a view to March installation. However, at a late stage it emerged that there was not enough power onsite and an upgrade would have cost a large five-figure number, as the power lines cross the nearby railway line! A late switch to a gas-fired copper proved expensive but will be more environmentally friendly and cheaper to run long-term. The vessels finally arrived late May and initial installation soon after.
We’re proud to have become an early member of the SIBA Assured British Craft Brewer Initiative.
A long-held love of Edinburgh led Glen in 2016 to set up another new associated business in Scotland, reviving the old brewing name of Steel Coulson with a bar in Leith and a long-term view to establishing a similar microbrewery/pub business to Dawkins Ales. Lots of interesting opportunities are to be developed introducing Scottish independent brewery beers for the Westcountry and vice-versa - the Dawkins beers have been very well received in Alba.
Like most of our fellow microbrewers we are struggling after nearly a year of lockdowns. We quickly turned to home deliveries, but with pubs being 90% of our business we are finding it tough. on 19th February 2021 we launched a Crowdfunder to help us see it through.