The Otter Eco Cellar – Celebrating a Decade

Beer is definitely in the blood and there’s a history of brewing going back at least five generations on Mum’s side of the family. But we’re also a forward thinking business with innovation a key driver. Somehow it’s now been ten years since we dug down and the UK’s first eco cellar went up.

With a design that was both respectful to the environment around it and transformative to the backs of our workers, now that we’ve really bonded….. through deep snow, torrential rain and a couple of endless summers, it’s striking how future-proof the cellar still feels today.

Constructed over two years, half of it cleverly sits half underground and is built from honeycomb clay blocks more commonly used in the Alps. From concept to completion, by trapping the sun’s light and heat and building down rather than up, its construction is a testament to intelligent eco design in the 21st century – in the summer months the living sedum roof looks like a Swiss hillside!

With an almost cathedral-like quality it can comfortably hold over 5,000 casks and has all the properties of an ice store in the middle ages. Crowning the upper level is a living sedum roof which recycles rain water without us even knowing it. By going underground we can cleverly use the earth’s core temperature to naturally cool the lower level area to 12°C – the ideal storage temperature for cask ale. A set of inner and outer airtight doors ensures this is maintained throughout the year and really ratchets up its eco credentials.

This infrastructure replaces the need to have 8 chillers and compressors, running 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year – this saves over £27,000 (or around 6½ tonnes of CO2 emissions) per year and helped it win ‘Eco Building of the Year’ at the South West’s 2010 Commercial Property Awards.

Sure, we cannot single handedly save the plant, but we can set an example to others and demonstrate how processes can be managed ecologically and sustainably – the cellar is just one of a long list of green initiatives that you’ll see across our brewery.