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Good Beer Hunting

Nov 7, 2020

I’m Natalya Watson, and you’re listening to the Good Beer Hunting podcast.

My guests today are Miranda Hudson and Derek Bates, co-founders of Duration Brewing, a progressive farmhouse brewery in Norfolk, England.

Bates—known mononymously to most—left his post as head brewer at London’s Brew By Numbers in late 2016 to set out on his own. He’d had an idea kicking around for years, but in 2017, he and his wife, Miranda, put their plan into action. Wanting to be a bit out of the way, they found a site among the ruins of a 12th-century priory in West Acre, Norfolk. But the rather challenging location required a year-and-a-half of planning before the build began in late 2018 and finally completed nearly a year later.

During this time, Duration began brewing collaboratively and nomadically with breweries across the U.K. and beyond. Not only did this approach get their beer out there, it got them out there, too. Miranda and Bates became familiar faces to members of the U.K. beer industry, many of whom got enthusiastically involved in following the pair and their progress, which was frequently documented on their website and social media.

Now that they’re finally brewing in their own facility, as of October 2019, the goal for this first year was, as you’ll hear, for Bates to have the chance to experiment. That wouldn’t just enable him to showcase his breadth as a brewer, the thinking went, but to discover which styles were a hit for the brewery, and to decide which journeys they wanted to take their drinkers on away from the Pale Ale and IPA monoculture, as Bates calls it.

But only five months after they settled into their brand-new brewery, COVID-19 hit. While it certainly hasn’t been the first year they were expecting—with a market too unstable to truly fine-tune their core range, and a destination brewery most are unable visit—they talk me through their initial response to the pandemic. They discuss the challenges (and triumphs) they’ve faced, from their wholesale model becoming essentially unviable overnight to how they were able to get their online shop up and running with the flick of a switch to why they’ve taken their brewery tours online, essentially welcoming drinkers into their “home,” as Miranda puts it.

Miranda and Bates aren’t just business partners: They’re life partners and parents, too. You’ll hear, in earnest, some of the challenges they’re up against at the moment. But you’ll also hear how they’re looking ahead. Not just beyond COVID, but five, 10 years down the line. Even during this incredibly difficult time for the industry, they’ve doubled down—expanding not only their capacity, but their team, too. They tell us about the breweries in the United States they’re inspired by, what sets Duration apart, and the legacy they’re looking to leave behind.

This is Miranda Hudson and Derek Bates of Duration Brewing. Listen in.