Hoppy days are here again!

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Inspired by craft ales and Coldplay, Steve Farrell has brought commercial brewing back to Wimborne after a nearly 80-year dry spell

Steve Farrell, Master Brewer, inside the Eight Arches Brewery
All images: Courtenay Hitchcock

Would you get to 40 and regret not giving it a go?’
This was the catalyst question from Ellie Farrell that inspired her husband, Steve, to move from a homebrewing hobby to starting his own commercial brewery. Forty next year, Steve Farrell needn’t have any regrets. From a small industrial unit in Wimborne, his Eight Arch brewery is a phenomenal success. In just eight years it has racked up a host of industry awards, is sold in shops and pubs across Dorset and runs pop-up tap rooms at festivals and events. Every Friday, its own Tap Room on the riverside industrial estate is the go-to place. Pints are pulled from 3 and by 4.30 there’s barely a vacant beer-barrel seat. Local MP and Eight Arch fan Michael Tomlinson organised the beer to be sold in the Houses of Parliament’s watering holes. Named after the eight arches of Wimborne’s landmark Julian’s Bridge, the company brought brewing back after 78 years.*

image Courtenay Hitchcock

The home-brew escalation
It’s a busy brew day when I interview Steve. Head brewer Mark Wainwright is canning beers on the small production line as KLF tracks boom out. When Steve’s in charge, it’s Coldplay – he’s seen them in concert 15 times!
In his small office, you can’t see his desk for paperwork and to-do lists. His children’s paintings are displayed alongside red-dotted maps of outlets, stretching from Southampton to East Dorset and throughout the Blackmore Vale. Shelves groan under the weight of awards. He’s now a Master Brewer, but he refers to himself as office admin!
‘When I started homebrewing, I got truly bitten by the brewing bug,’ Steve says. ‘I began with starter extract kits – just a plastic fermenting bucket, a tin of malting extract that looks like golden syrup, yeast and water.
‘I’d try out my concoctions on friends, who – through gritted teeth – told me it was good!
‘I did a lot of research, and escalated to homebrewing all-grain. You mash the malt, boil it at the right temperature, add the hops and ferment it. On a very small scale, I was doing in my garage exactly what I do now!’

Behind the Tap Room bar, which started life as a makeshift pallet bar with a few beer taps attached and just 105 pints available


After an apprenticeship in mechanics, Steve worked in his parent’s haulage company. When the business closed, the road ahead for the HGV master technician was clear – to become a Master Brewer.
‘I’d been on BrewLab courses in Sunderland and I volunteered to help at other breweries in Dorset, digging their mash out, seeing how they worked.’
Steve pulled his first pint in 2015 and says the first year was frenetic. He brewed, packed, sold, delivered and ran the Tap Room: ‘We opened the Tap Room with a makeshift pallet bar that had a few beer taps attached – we had 105 pints available and by 6.30pm we’d sold out.
‘I served and Ellie and her mum washed all the glasses by hand in a tiny sink. I was so scared to tell the queue we’d run out of beer, but actually the news was met with huge applause.’
It’s the local support that Steve never forgets. Born and raised in Wimborne, he keeps his business true to its roots.
‘At one point we were exporting to Switzerland, Norway and Italy. We had so many wholesalers and the Tap Room was getting so busy we were overstretched. I pulled back my focus to the local market which had always bought our beer.’

Just some of the industry awards Steve has achieved for Eight Arch Brewing Co

It was a good call. His distribution radius has shrunk but sales have gone up. Alongside head brewer Mark, the Eight Arch family has expanded – now there’s Mike in sales, brewery assistant Joe, Nick and Kat helping run the Tap Room and Archie, the fostered cat who sleeps on the bar and features in their marketing.
The beers are named after different arches – Corbel, Parabolic, Bowstring – along with Steve’s other loves of music and football. Under The Radar was inspired by AFC Bournemouth getting promoted, and of course there’s a beer with a nod to his beloved Coldplay: Square Logic, his bestselling IPA, is a combination of two song titles.
And for his 40th year the company is moving over the road to premises twice the size.
’Perhaps it will be somewhere to have my 40th birthday party!’

Archie, the fostered cat who sleeps on the bar and is ‘even more grumpy than he looks!’

www.8archbrewing.co.uk
Tap Room is open Fridays 3-8pm, with a guest food van.
Unit 3, Stone Lane Industrial Estate, Wimborne, BH21 1HB
Follow them on socials as 8ArchBrewing

  • The last brewery was the Town Brewery, by then known as Ellis and Sons, closed in 1937. It was bought (and swiftly closed) by Hall and Woodhouse.
A typically busy Friday night at the Tap Room

Quick fire question:
Dream Tap Room guest?
George Best – it would be great to have a chat with him. But maybe not a drink! I’m a massive Manchester United fan. And Duncan Edwards. I was born on the same day as the Munich air disaster in which he died, at just 21. I’m convinced he would have been England captain at the ‘66 World Cup.

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