Something creative is brewing...

We love nothing more than a tasty pint...

...of milk?

Woodoaks Farm, the site of our brewery, has its first recorded mention way back in Anglo-Saxon times in the year 793. This was when King Offa of Mercia (one of the seven kingdoms that made up England at the time) gave the farm to the Abbey of St.Albans, who subsequently gave it to Richard de Fonte, one of their six knights, as part of his “knights fee” – essentially payment for his services. At the time it was known as “Woodwicks Farm”, which literally means the dairy farm near the wood, and in 1166 William de Woodwicks was listed by King Henry II as the first freeholder of the land.

Fast forward nine centuries or so and Woodoaks Farm is still going strong. In its lengthy history, the farm has been owned by all sorts of interesting characters; knights, auctioneers, Lords, Parliamentarians, royalists, lawyers and even a Mayor of London. The current family of owners took over the site in 1922 and have introduced a number of new farming techniques over the years, not least mixing arable farming with the core dairy function.

The old milking shed could handle around 45 cows at one time, but it was a slow and mostly manual process. Chris, the herdsman, has been on the farm since 1975. He remembers what the milking operation used to be like…

“When I started here, the dairy building itself had an open layout. We just used to have the cows everywhere in a row along the wall. Where you have the taproom bar now, you used to have four or five cows lined up there. I can still picture it now. It was absolutely freezing in the winter getting up at four in the morning to get everything ready, but as soon as we got all the cows in here, it was toasty warm with their body heat.

Then when the pit was put in, we were able to get through the cows much faster. They were treated really well. I knew them all by name; they all had their own quirky personalities. If I stand in the pit now, I can shut my eyes and reach my hands out, still going through the motions to perform the milking operation on autopilot. It’s a funny thing to be in here and not have the cows with you, but it’s great that the diary has been bought back to life again.”

That key development took place in August 1984; the old milking shed was converted into a then state-of-the-art dairy facility. Thanks to the technology update, the farm could be producing 12,000 litres of milk per lactation period at its peak.

That same set up remained in place for 33 years, until September 2017 when the herd left the farm and the dairy function finally ceased operation. The building has been disused and derelict since that time… and that was when we got involved.

Speaking to the owners, it felt like we had the opportunity to create a relationship that was genuinely mutually beneficial to all involved. Being a dairy, the building was a natural fit to become a brewery (the process has a lot of similarities even if the end product is somewhat different), and by investing development funds into the building itself, Creative Juices could salvage it from neglect and eventually falling into disrepair.

And so began a new program of updates, which bought with it the biggest changes to the dairy building since the upgrade in 1984. The entire roof was replaced and made water-tight once more, the crumbling brick walls were repaired, the electrics and plumbing were replaced or introduced throughout, the walls were sandblasted back to their original glory, the doors were updated, heating and insulation was added, a toilet block was introduced (including access for the disabled), and everywhere was given a good old-fashioned scrub clean and subsequently decorated.

With the final pieces of the puzzle being added – i.e. the brand new brewhouse and fermentation vessels, a cold store, taproom and beer cellar – the newly revitalised Creative Juices brewery building is teeming with life once more and producing delicious drinks for all to enjoy.

And so we move onto the next chapter in this illustrious farm’s history.

For more info and to compare the before and after images, see our blog post on the works that were undertaken… just as soon as I’ve written it!


Back in 1984, the man who largely masterminded the design, build and install of the new dairy was a man called John Chapman.

Here he can be seen on the left of the photo overseeing works in the dairy parlour in August 1984.

He was a master craftsman and carpenter, whose work was built to last and can still be found all over Woodoaks Farm. We even managed to salvage elements of his work in the brewery.

Fast forward just over 35 years and we were blessed by a visit from John Chapman once more. Here you can see him standing in the exact same spot in the milking parlour as the first photograph.

He’s still active, still working and still a friend of the farm. Whilst he was passing by, he ducked his head into the brewery to see what we had done with his beloved dairy building.

We gave him the grand tour and, awash with memories from yesteryear, he loved every bit of it. He was blown away by what we had managed to achieve. Whilst shepherding in the new, he was astonished that we kept and upcycled as much of the original operation as we possibly could, and that we were breathing life back in the building he helped to complete in the first place.

In May 2020, we heard the terribly sad news that John had lost his life to the Corona virus, Covid-19.

We are pleased we got to meet him and enjoy his good-natured character. We are also so appreciative that he got to see our work on the dairy building before he passed away and are honoured to have had his blessing.

This restoration is dedicated to his memory.

RIP John.