Vibrant Forest Brewery hosts 10th birthday beer festival
A NEW FOREST brewery marked its 10-year anniversary with a celebratory beer festival that was attended by hundreds of real ale enthusiasts.
Vibrant Forest Brewery hosted the sell-out event at its site on Hardley Industrial Estate, and owner Kevin Robinson said it went “superbly well”.
As well as the award-winning beers, festival goers enjoyed a hog roast, vegan hot dogs, Caribbean goat curry and doughnuts, with DJ sets creating a party atmosphere.
Vibrant has come from small beginnings, with Kevin starting out brewing in his garage in 2011. Just over two years later, he took his modest operation to Gordleton Industrial Estate in Lymington, using his life savings to buy a shiny, new, British-made 12-barrel brewery.
Eventually outgrowing the space, Kevin upped sticks in 2019 and moved to his current site on the Waterside where he employs five full-time and four part-time workers and runs a large taproom alongside the brewery.
In the early days Kevin supplied various pubs across the New Forest, but he now caters to more modern tastes in cities and overseas to countries like France, Italy and Finland.
“We do not actually sell much beer around the New Forest as the pubs prefer more traditional ales,” said Kevin, a former IT consultant for IBM. “We are a very modern brewery making many styles of beer, ranging from pale ales to IPAs to stout and sours.”
Kevin has an adventurous approach to brewing, and his original aim was to introduce global flavours to local beer drinkers who would typically go for traditional English brown ales. He has played with different yeast strains and hop varieties from places like America and New Zealand.
“Beers are so versatile, I don’t think people realise how incredible they are,” he told the A&T.
Vibrant’s offering includes Summerlands, described as a “hop juggernaut bursting with fruits and pine”; Stygian Abyss, a coffee stout aged for months in Cognac barrels; and Black Oktober, one of the oldest and best loved of Kevin’s beers – rich and full-bodied with flavours of roasted grain, chocolate and liquorice.
Vibrant has undergone various developments over the past year. Last summer Kevin invested in a canning machine and large new cold room, which “immediately proved to be a great decision”, he said.
“Right now, our taproom expansion is being carried out and this will provide a new floor and at least double the inside seating capacity, with the plan to also use this as an event space,” said Kevin. “It is exciting times indeed.”
The taproom opens between 4pm and 9pm on Fridays, from midday until 9pm on Saturdays and between midday and 6pm every Sunday.
It offers between eight and 12 beers on draught, along with cider, wine and soft drinks. Street food is also available on Saturdays, including pizza, vegan burgers, and Indian and Thai dishes.
“It is going from strength to strength,” said Kevin. “It is amazing to see so many people visit an industrial estate and enjoy a great day out with friends and family.”
Kevin also runs the occasional brewery tour on a Saturday.
To celebrate Vibrant’s 10th anniversary, Kevin has brewed six special beers. They come in a box which includes a 20-page history of the brewery, and are available at the taproom or online at www.vibrantforest.co.uk/beer/vibrant-10-year-birthday-box
Plans are afoot for another festival in November. Follow www.facebook.com/vibrantforest