Something really special is brewing in the sleepy west Norfolk countryside.

In 2017 Miranda Hudson and Derek Bates founded Duration Brewing at West Acre, near Swaffham.

They had met in America when Miranda was out there travelling. Bates is a brewer and chef and took Miranda on a tour of the east coast where they visited pubs and breweries.

Inspired by what they had tasted and seen, they decided to set up their own brewery, deciding on Norfolk, famed for its barley, as the perfect location.

They found their ideal premises sitting in the ruins of an old priory by the banks of a chalk river.

As the priory is a scheduled monument and Grade II listed, the renovation was a long and complex process. But in December 2019, Duration Brewing's first beer was ready.

Of course, we all know what happened a few months later. However, during the lockdowns they had support from locals who stopped by to buy their beers as a treat, something which Miranda says they are “hugely grateful” for.

And as hospitality re-opened last year, they set up a taproom at the brewery so that their customers could come to their Tap Days and enjoy their beers al fresco in beautiful surroundings accompanied by street food. It was a recipe for success.

Eastern Daily Press: One of Duration Brewing's hugely popular Tap DaysOne of Duration Brewing's hugely popular Tap Days (Image: Duration Brewing)

“At times last year we were running out of beer quite often – in the summer we just couldn’t make enough lager,” says Miranda.

That’s why they’ve been using January and February, which are traditionally quieter months for the hospitality industry, to install new equipment which will increase their capacity and keep their beers – some of which are now award-winning – flowing.

“We’ve been busy expanding the brewhouse and adding two fermentation vessels so that we can increase that capacity – at the moment we’ve got six tanks and that will go up to eight,” explains Miranda.

“We’re also adding a centrifuge that basically helps us get a bit more beer from our existing brews – it sort of wrings out the hops and the grains and it improves our efficiency. We’re really lucky in that we managed to get a grant from West Norfolk Council to do that.”

Eastern Daily Press: Duration Brewing uses a lot of gas and CO2Duration Brewing uses a lot of gas and CO2 (Image: Matt Curtis)

There are other exciting developments in the pipeline too.

They’re now putting together a planning application to build a permanent taproom and are going to launch a crowdfunder.

“We opened it as an al fresco set up while the pandemic was looming and then in winter we brought everyone inside to the barrel store where it’s really lovely and cosy. We’ve got about 10 tables and all of our locals just kept coming through the winter, which was nice," says Miranda.

So the taproom has become another focus for them – and will help to create more local jobs, adding to their current team of eight.

“It’s something we always envisioned when we were renovating our site and setting up as a brewery and thanks to all the locals and people who have come and visited and let us know that it’s a good idea, we’re going to fast track that a little bit,” says Miranda.

“We’re planning a crowdfund where people that like our business can actually own a little bit of the business, so rather than doing a rewards-based crowdfund, we’re actually going to do an equity-based crowdfund. We’re planning to have it all ready to launch late spring/early summer.”

Their Tap Days are every Friday and Saturday – from October to April they’re open from 12-6pm and then April to October it's 12-8pm.

During the winter, bar snacks such as sausage rolls and pretzels are available, then in summer they have various guest street vendors in residence, including the Wood Fired Food Co, FannyAdams Catering and Pressed Toasties.

I feel hungry just listening to Miranda talk about it.

Eastern Daily Press: FannyAdams Catering is one of Duration Brewing's resident food vendors on its Tap DaysFannyAdams Catering is one of Duration Brewing's resident food vendors on its Tap Days (Image: Duration Brewing)

“Wood Fired Food Company make delicious wood fired pizzas that use Marsh Pig charcuterie and lots of heritage tomatoes. And FannyAdams have a really lovely burger repertoire. My favourite is their bang bang cauliflower burger – it's fried in tempura batter. Pressed Toasties do lovely toasties with bread from Bread Source in Norwich.

“And we’re going to have a residency with Mr Ragu, who make their own focaccia and their own Italian ragu from scratch. And there will be other surprises across the summer.”

Their Saturday morning yoga and beer sessions have also proved to be a big hit.

“On a Saturday morning, if you wanted to get in a little bit of exercise, you can come along and mind, body and soul will all be looked after with a power yoga session,” says Miranda.

“People love it because they come and tick off a bit of exercise, but then they can go into lunch at the brewery and have a drink with us, so it’s a nice way to keep the equilibrium.”

And it’s not just their customers who love what they do. Duration has also been winning plaudits within the brewing industry.

Last year they were invited to the Brewers Congress where they picked up a medal for best new brewery of the year and their flagship beer, Turtles All The Way Down, a juicy American pale which has notes of pineapple and mango, was named best beer of the year. And three of their beers have won silver and gold medals for Norfolk from the Society of Independent Brewers.

“Our customers and these awards let us know that people like our beer, which is always nice,” says Miranda.

They describe their brews as “beers that belong” – inspired by the region and its produce.

Many of the ingredients couldn’t be more local, including fruit and botanicals from local farmers.

And looking forward to the warmer weather, they’ve been busy brewing some of their seasonal favourites.

Eastern Daily Press: Promise of Spring will be released on March 10Promise of Spring will be released on March 10 (Image: Duration Brewing)

“We've just brewed our seasonal spring beer, which is called Promise of Spring,” says Miranda.

"It's a wheat beer, so it’s a lovely, refreshing, zingy kind of beer and it’s a really nice beer to take you out of winter and into summer.

“This will be the third time we’ve brewed it. The first time we brewed it we worked with Nurtured in Norfolk, who grow really delicious edible flowers, and we put marigolds in. Then last year we brewed it and we actually foraged gorse flowers, which had a nice little tropical note to them, and put those in. This year we’ve gone back to Nurtured in Norfolk and we’ve gone with lemon balm and geranium rose leaf. It's a really nice way to reflect the landscape here and to put a seasonal crop in. So we’ve got that one coming out on March 10.”

Duration’s beers all come with a story. They’re also currently brewing a Grisette, The Land I’m Bound To, which, in another collaboration, is made using grape pomace from nearby Burn Valley Vineyard. It will be bottled in March and then will sit to condition for a while so will probably be released in April.

The name is a reference to a photographic book of working folk in the Deep South from the 1980s by Jack Leigh, which reminds Bates of both his South Carolina home and Norfolk.

And a lager that was a huge hit last year is set to return.

“Bates just loves sitting on his lawnmower, putting his headphones in, listening to a podcast and cutting the grass with a cheeky beer,” says Miranda.

“He designed Cuttin’ Grass specifically for him, so we put him on a lawnmower on the can as the image. It’s an Italian pilsner, it’s quite punchy, hoppy and it’s got almost like zippy lemony vibes to it. And everyone loved that last year, it just kept selling out. So we’re brewing that one again at the moment.”

They’re also collaborating with Burning Sky, a brewery based in Sussex and Cloudwater Brew Co in Manchester who are coming to Duration to brew with them.

“Craft brewing is a very friendly industry,” says Miranda. “We love sharing knowledge with each other, so our co-labs help us learn from our peers.”

They’ve also doing some exciting collaborations with local producers and makers too. Their distinctive cans are works of art in their own right and there’s a range of Duration merchandise which includes T-shirts, caps, stationery, cushion covers in a Turtles All The Way Down print and even beer infused skincare products.

And they’re going to work with the north Norfolk handmade accessories and clothing brand Carrier Company to brew a beer together and work on a bespoke workwear line with them.

With community and sustainability at the heart of what they do, Duration Brewing sponsors the Castle Acre Swifts football team and the West Ladies Rugby Team.

And they love sharing what they do on tours of the brewery.

Their biggest by-product is water and outbound water is cleaned before being discharged into a protected chalk river. Adopting circular waste management principles they syphon off the grains, which then go off to local farms. Some feed a wagyu beef herd and others are used as compost.

“When we’ve finished with them there’s still a lot of nutrition in them,” says Miranda. “Hops are quite acidic and Norfolk soil is quite chalky and alkaline. Crops like blueberries, for example, love a more acidic soil, so we’re working with an organic blueberry farm to give them our hops and they can put that into the soil to help the blueberries to grow.

“We say we want to make good beer with good people in a way that respects where we are. By thinking of waste as valuable we can find homes for it.”

Duration beers are available directly from the brewery, at independent retailers around Norfolk and online. See