Challenges and triumphs as brewer Glen Upward creates a new life for himself and a new beer for the world. SARAH SINGLETON reports.

TUCKED away at the end of a village lane, beneath the rise of the chalk downs and Roundway Hill, a solitary brewer is experimenting with malted barley, hops and yeast, in the timeless pursuit of creating a perfect beer.

Although the process is thousands of years old, this brewery is just beginning – but it is poised for success. Called Devitera, the brewery blends the name of nearby Devizes, which means boundary, with ‘terra’, the Latin name for land.

That solitary brewer led a very different life one year ago. Glen Upward, 39, was then an IT professional for Intel in Swindon. But when he lost his well-paid job, one of a sweep of redundancies, along with his footing on the corporate career ladder, Glen decided it was just the opportunity he needed to turn his life around.

“In my mind I was already searching for something,” he said. “I always wanted to start my own business and it felt right. I did not once look at the job market.

“I wanted to create something. I was disillusioned by the concept of a career.”

Glen, who lives in Devizes and has set up his brewery in an old bakery in Rowde, started on a personal and business journey that has tested him to the limits. From the dawning of the idea, to the present moment, he has faced enormous challenges.

His first premises fell through, his partner dropped out, and at one point he was faced with legal action by an American corporation about the first name he chose for his brewery. But Glen is evidently a man with a mission, and step by step, in the space of a year, he has learnt how to brew, established the brewery, and jumped through the myriad hoops required to set up a business, particularly one selling a foodstuff, and a foodstuff containing alcohol.

First off, he had to make sure wife Lucy was on board with the plan.

“She was a little bit shocked. She wondered how we would survive, but she has always supported the plan,” he said. “I had to learn so much. I had been sitting behind a desk nine till five but now I had to know it all – health and safety, finance, how to run a business, how to run a brewery.

“I did a lot of research online, watched a lot of Youtube and tried brewing on a small scale. It’s effectively chemistry. But I felt I didn’t understand enough so I thought I would get into a partnership.”

Last winter Glen practised brewing, using kits, at home. He worked out in the garden in rain and snow, honing his skills.

He went on a brewing course in Poole, and for a time it seemed that he might create a partnership with the man who was running the course.

“He came with me quite a lot of the way, and gave me confidence to keep going, but when it came to the point of leaving his current employer, he realised he did not want it,” Glen recalled. “I went into a tail spin. I thought, what am I going to do? All of a sudden, I was on my own.”

Within two weeks, his premises fell through too.

“I had bought all the equipment, and there was nothing suitable on the market,” he said. “At that time some members of my family were not that supportive and people were telling me not to do it – even business coaches.”

Then he faced legal action from a big corporation when he wanted to call his brewery Gunslinger Ales.

But Glen is made of stern stuff. He decided he could not afford a big legal battle with the American company so he chose a new name. He went on another brewing course in Manchester to develop his skills, and committed himself to continuing his journey alone.

“I am not that kind of quitter,” he said. “I was always committed and I thought I must give it a go. Life is so short. Lucy was already behind me – if she hadn’t been, I would have stopped.

“I wanted to create something – it’s a lifestyle business. I don’t know if it will work or not, but I am going to give it a shot.”

Eventually he found new premises at Rowde, and set to work altering and preparing it to be used as a brewery.

Glen is bursting with ideas about its future. As well as setting up the brewery, he wants to create a bar, and for the site to be a useful venue for community activities – and these do not have to be beer orientated.

His brewing is based around a philosophy of using locally sourced, natural ingredients, and building a sustainable business. The malt comes from Warminster Maltings, Britain’s oldest working maltings. The waste products from the brewery are used as animal feed and fertiliser.

He takes his inspiration from the Wiltshire landscape, and its long history – the sweeping plains ideal for growing barley, the staple ingredient of the beer.

“We use hand-turned floor-malted barley, wherever possible. Hops are whole leaf to be as natural as possible, and we do not use products such as anti-foam to speed up brewing. We also use natural conditioning of our beer - so no forced carbonation. This all leads to a natural beer,” he said

Glen is busy finalising the process of branding, labelling and packaging his bottled beers, and he is starting sales on a local level, selling to shops and restaurants.

“It’s crazy time now,” he said. “I’m planning a launch and I wanted to catch the Christmas season. On Monday I’ll be brewing beer, and I have to bottle it, and finalise the packaging.

“It’s also very important for me to give back. I want to use ingredients that are real and local, I want to organise family-friendly events.”

All the family have joined in to help. Glen and Lucy have two children, and six-year-old Leo is very excited about his father’s project, drawing pictures of the brewery equipment.

Glen is bubbling with ideas for the future – including an on-line shop, corporate events and even opening other breweries in the future. He has also chronicled the challenges, defeats and triumphs of his journey on a blog.

“It’s become a bit of an obsession,” he said.

You can buy Devitera beer at the Rowdey Cow Cafe, in Rowde, at CW Butchers in Devizes and the New Wine Shop , Calne. For more information about Glen’s story and his brewery, visit