Why Britain’s Oldest Brewer is focused on the future

Shepherd Neame and the search for a zero-waste beer
Food & Pharma
9 March 2020

The brewing landscape has inescapably changed in recent times and continues to do so. Quality and taste remain paramount to drinkers but the industry is increasingly looking for innovations to reduce the environmental impact of their processes.


Britain’s oldest brewer Shepherd Neame has been based in Faversham for more than 400 years. It is a pioneer of sustainable brewing methods, making significant investments in its historic site in recent years, and continuously striving to make the brewery cleaner and greener for the future. It has done this while also continuing to grow an enviable reputation for quality beers – a significant achievement in a fiercely competitive market with an increasingly discerning customer base.

Air Liquide, leading providers of Food Grade CO2, recently took the opportunity to delve a little deeper into how authenticity, quality and innovation combine for Shepherd Neame.

The benefits of local sourcing

Shepherd Neame’s location in the ‘Garden of England’ is intrinsic to the brand and the beers it produces. Head Brewer Mike Unsworth said: “One of the things that makes working for Shepherd Neame so special, is brewing beer in the heart of hop country. Our water is drawn from the artesian well deep beneath the brewery, while 80% of the hops we use come from Kent, many from hop gardens within walking distance of the brewery.”

Air Liquide's market leading approach to quality assured Food Grade CO2 includes a network of selected CO2 sources; this network enable Shepherd Neame to benefit from a local supply of Food Grade CO2.

Proven commitment to sustainability

Shepherd Neame may be Britain’s oldest brewer but its approach is anything but
old-fashioned. Its innovative approach to reducing the environmental impact of brewing processes are increasingly attracting deserved attention.

Permeating throughout all areas of operations, sustainability is a core focus for the company.  Notable examples include:

1)    Recycling 97% of the grains and hops used in the brewing process as animal feed

2)    Using 100% recyclable cardboard packaging and lightweight glass for bottles. Other initiatives include banning plastic straws across its retail pub estate and introducing a reusable cup scheme at the Faversham Hop Festival which it sponsors.

3)    Investing more than £3 million in a Water Recovery Plant which allows Shepherd Neame to recycle the waste water that results from brewing & cleaning. This has reduced the brewery’s water consumption by 40%.


At the core is quality…

Shepherd Neame has built and retained a loyal customer base, due to its reputation for producing quality beers. Mike clarifies Shepherd Neame’s ethos:

“We are perhaps best known for great British classic ales such as Spitfire, but we brew a diverse portfolio including Five Grain Lager, Bear Island East Coast Pale Ale and Bear Island Triple Hopped Lager, and the Whitstable Bay Collection. Our aim is to brew a range of beers to suit all tastes, whether it is a classic favourite, or introducing some new flavours and styles.

“It is the quality and consistency garnered from centuries of perfecting the art of brewing that set us apart from other breweries, along with the provenance of our ingredients and the authenticity of our beers.”


For more information about Air Liquide market leading approach to food grade CO2

Please contact Iain Shipley


Credit photo: Shepherd Neame