Leila Cottage Brewery
Jenny Chamberlain's family have owned the Countryman pub in Ingoldmells since 1960 and Barry Good has been there since 1974. Originally the Countryman was the Ingoldmells Social Club. Later, the name was changed to the Ace of Clubs (still a members-only establishment) and then, in 1988, it transmuted into the Ace Inn, a fully fledged public house. The Countryman we know today was created when the original building was altered and enlarged at a later date. Looking at the front elevation, you can be forgiven for thinking that the building is wholly a product of the 1960's or 70's. The secret history is revealed when you check round the back and spot the brickwork of the original Leila Cottage, reputedly an eighteenth century building. By the middle of the nineteenth century the house was occupied by James Waite, a famous and successful local smuggler. This may seem a fanciful idea now but the Lincolnshire coast between Boston and Mablethorpe was notorious for such clandestine activity and old Ingoldmells was at the heart of the trade. Indeed, Tom Paine (1737-1809), the famous author and revolutionary (and formerly an excise officer) was based at nearby Alford between August 1764 and August 1765 for that very reason.
The idea for a brewery came in the summer of 2007 after Barry had spotted an advertisement in "The Publican" for a half-barrel plant. He and Scott Colebourne (who was working at the Countryman at the time and became head brewer) decided to experiment with a "hobby" brewery and were easily persuaded by the manufacturer who also supplied a simple recipe and brewing kit. Fortunately, the pub had previously stocked beers from the Fugelestou Brewery (Louth) and Phil Ellis provided free and friendly advice to the Countryman team. The first principle Barry and Scott agreed upon was to keep things simple. Honey, coriander and hedgerow weeds were definitely off the menu! Ace Ale (a mid-brown session bitter at 3.8%) duly emerged and was eventually accompanied by a light-coloured summer IPA (Leila's Lazy Days at 3.6%) and a dark ruby autumn/winter beer (Lincolnshire Life at 4.2%).
Success bred success and Barry purchased a 2.5 barrel plant from Poacher's Brewery in Lincoln which had downsized production. A stable on the Countryman site had become vacant and this was converted and the plant installed between December 2008 and March 2009. By summer 2010, brewing was sufficiently advanced to have all three beers permanently on tap and as bottle-conditioned "carry-outs". However, as the latter are still hand-filled, they may not always be available.
At present, Leila Cottage has to use informal arrangements (the backs and boots of cars!) to supply beer festivals and the odd pub. Although there's no official delivery system, casks can be collected and Fugelstou, Oldershaw's and Small Beer at Lincoln have assisted at one time or another. Advance notice will allow you to see the brewery and there is a large car park as well as facilities on site for caravans and camper-vans. So, if you are holidaying in the area or just passing through, both the "Countryman" and Leila Cottage Brewery should be on your must-see itinerary.