Cambs farmer goes from creating cakes to brewing beer

AWARD-winning organic farmer Rebecca Rayner, from Glebe Farm in Kings Ripton, has branched out into brewing.

AWARD-winning organic farmer Rebecca Rayner, from Glebe Farm in Kings Ripton, has branched out into brewing.

Ms Rayner, pictured, who has twice won Hunts Post Business Awards, has until now specialised in flours, bread and cake mixes.

But her own fondness for drinking beer, and her partner Marc Marshall’s passion for home brewing, have led to Gladiator Spelt Beer’s introduction to a range of pubs and restaurants in the area.

The name was chosen for the Roman introduction of spelt – a species of wheat – to Britain for brewing and bread-making. But it can be gentler on the digestive system than the wheat usually added to beer, she said. So it may be suitable for people with wheat intolerance.

“We grow the spelt here on the farm,” she said. “Gladiator is not a typical wheat beer: it has a nuttier flavour.

“We malt it here on the farm in a converted grain trailer designed by my engineer brother – it’s quite a feat of engineering. Then we crush it here and send it off to the Wolf Brewery in Attleborough, where it’s brewed to our recipe and bottled.”

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The first full 10,000-bottle run of beer is already selling well in the Oliver Cromwell, in St Ives, the Pig ‘n’ Falcon in St Neots, the Riverside Inn at Earith, the Horseshoe at Offord and the White Hart in Alconbury Weston. It is also available at Alimentum in Cambridge, Cambridge Wine Merchants and Abbots Ripton Post Office.

“Gladiator Spelt Beer is full-bodied and 100 naturally-brewed following Belgian brewing traditions,” Ms Rayner said.

And it is across the Channel that she is having to go for her next venture – a gluten-free beer.

“Malting gluten-free grain is really hard to do. I can’t find anybody in the UK to brew it, and so I’m going to see a Belgian brewer to talk about the gluten-free beer. I’m very partial to Belgian beer, so that will be good fun,” she added.

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