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Raising a glass as beer made by robots ready to hit the pumps at pub

Shrewsbury | Dining out | Published:

A beer created thanks to the efforts of robotic farmers will soon be on sale in a Shropshire pub.

From left: Kit Franklin, Jonathan Gill, Jim Preston, Dr Frank Vriesekoop, Steve Preston

The special brew is the result of the Hands Free Hectare (HFHa) project, a partnership between Harper Adams University and Precision Decisions which sees crops grown, tended and harvested by autonomous machines.

It began in 2016, and a successful crop of winter barley was harvested at the university's campus near Newport in September 2017.

Since then the university's food innovation experts have been working with Customs Laboratories to get the barley malted into a pale malt, and now their hard work has led to the creation of a new golden ale.

The brewing itself was done by Rowton Brewery of Rowton, near Shawbury, run by father and son Jim and Steve Preston. Steve himself is a Harper alumnus who graduated in 2012.

He said: “Because we’re a small brewery, we’re able to work with a smaller quantity of grain, which was obviously of benefit for the HFHa beer.

“It’s been nice to have the challenge of being innovative with this beer; working with a new grain and experimenting with the taste.

"Over the past 11 years, we’ve been working in a very traditional way; using high quality Marris Otter malt, the finest hops and water drawn from our own borehole.

“It’s also great that it’s something relating to Harper because of our connection to the place.

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“The HFHa is an interesting story, especially from the marketing prospective and has created a lot of interest. Although, we’re very hands on at the brewery, so the aspect of being hands-free definitely stopped once it reached us.

“It’s turned out to be a great summer beer. Anyone who’d like to try it can find out when it’s on the bar on our Facebook page.”

The beer will soon be on tap at the Pheasant Inn in Wellington. To find out when, follow Rowton Brewery's Facebook page.

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