Scroll Down

Posted by
Maddie Darrell
on 07/03/23

Built. Doors unlocked. Brewing underway. Promising sales. Within a matter of months, lockdown.

I’d heard a bit about this Norfolk brewery before I asked the co-founder for an interview to coincide with International Women’s Day. That was not least because of the timing of its opening.

Of course, the pandemic wreaked havoc across the board, and it’s not a competition between brewers about who had the greatest challenges.

Still, you could have forgiven a bit of a ‘woe-is-me’ vibe to Miranda’s answers, given the impact of lockdown on a business in the throes of establishing itself. But there was nothing remotely like that. This all feels like a labour of love – one that embraces challenge and change; that is inclusive and hopeful; and that is in it for the long term.

Posted by
Maddie Darrell
on 07/03/23

Miranda Hudson, co-founder, Duration Brewery

Crisp malt | Miranda at Duration BreweryCrisp Malt | Miranda and Bates at Duration Brewing


When you and your partner, Bates, met, your career had already spanned charity, costume design and interior design. What made you decide to co-create a new brewery, with you project managing the build?

I met Bates in 2010 at a wedding I crashed – over in Charleston South Carolina. He stood out in the crowd with a big mohawk and a gentle southern drawl. When I returned from my US trip to the UK, we stayed in touch.

After a few months of a long-distance relationship, he moved over, and we set up a life together in London where I was living.

Over our first few years we had a child, got married and he worked in hospitality with restaurants, bars and breweries – and we discussed one day building a farmhouse brewery. That dream came true in October 2019 when we opened Duration Brewing after several months planning and renovating a historic stone barn in West Norfolk.

Why West Norfolk?

Bates said it’s the only place in the UK that reminds him of South Carolina. The people have a fervent love of local produce, the landscape is coastal, agricultural and secluded. There is a big movement to rewilding and celebrating the beauty of nature – and as a brewery we could make beers that reflect the landscape.

What was the most interesting part of the design and construction challenge?

Being in a grade II* listed building, in a small village with limited infrastructure, and on a working farm ticked a lot of our boxes. It gave a farmhouse model that could be a destination for people to come experience our farm-to-glass principle. But it was not without many challenges.

We had to consider the habitats of water voles, owls and bats and we needed to add a sub-station for power – and install a water treatment plant. The renovation of our stone barn needed careful planning with several consultants.

It would have been far easier to find an industrial unit near lots of footfall, with all the amenities needed by a brewery. But we loved the romance and beauty of Abbey Farm, and simply worked our way through the hurdles, determined to find a path.

The first brew was in October 2019: how did your role change at that point, and what do you now cover?

We have Bates as our creative lead, and Hamish over our operations. My role as managing director for Duration now spans many departments including recruitment, finance, sales and marketing. It’s never the same day twice – and I enjoy being over so many aspects of the business. I also enjoy community engagement and love being present in our taproom and hosting tours – as well as representing Duration at events.

Duration has in a short amount of time built a significant reputation in the industry. How has that happened?

We were incredibly fortunate to receive lots of support in the way of press articles and invitations to industry events which certainly have helped.

Being awarded Best New Brewery for 2021 and receiving lots of awards for the beers has been amazing.

I also think Bates is very well respected in his craft – and of course the real proof is in the product. The equipment we installed and the consistency of our beers, I believe have gone a long way to getting us recognition.

We don’t brew to trends – but more try to keep our offer diverse with nods to traditional styles.

You have positioned the brewery as a family-run, family-friendly business. Why?

As a woman in brewing – still very much a male-dominated industry – I’d like to work towards making beer a more inclusive place, throwing off some of the stereotypes and opening up the landscape to make it welcoming and inviting.

Learning about the history and heritage of brewing can be harder if there is an expectation that certain people are excluded. Initiatives that actively invite more people to enjoy beer in a more inclusive way is very important to me.

Beer should not be the reserve of men only – and getting children and families involved opens up the exploration of beer to be more educational. Children can learn about beer as an agricultural product, even if they can’t taste it.

Shifting the focus from beer as a mostly male pastime will mean my beers are enjoyed by a wider audience. Beer need not be all stag dos and the backdrop to sporting events. It has the potential to be so much more than that. A lot of village life is lived in the pub as a community hub, so I wanted Duration to do the same and be a welcoming space for people from all walks of life.

What are the upsides of working with a life-partner, and what are the downsides?

An upside of running a business with a life-partner is you inherently know you are working together towards a shared dream or passion. It becomes an act of love. Bates wanted a brewery and I have helped him achieve a place he can express himself through his beers.

On the downside I guess you need discipline to not let your passion in work permeate the rest of your life. Our daughter Mila has grown up in breweries and I’m sure she gets a lot from seeing both her parents have such a focus, but Bates and I have had to actively work towards carving out family time away from the brewery.

What’s the gig with choosing ingredients, and why do you buy malt from Crisp?

We design a beer somewhat romantically I guess by picking the occasion or moment we see it being enjoyed. Like a wheat beer for a summer’s day on the beach with friends or an Italian Pilsner to enjoy in spring when doing some yard work.

We build a recipe and, where possible, look to local producers to get involved. We’ve added local honey, oysters, apples and many local botanicals to our beers.

Crisp was an obvious choice: we can visit the barley fields during drilling and harvest and see the crop on the field. Local is a big part of our ethos making Beers That Belong to their landscape.

What are your top two favourite beers – and why?

Personally, I love mixed fermentation beers, so in the UK I hugely admire Burning Sky down in Sussex. I also love the crisp fresh beers of Boxcar in London. Both have become firm friends of ours with several collaborations under our belts.

Sadly, Boxcar very recently got evicted from their premises in London so it’s very uncertain how they will continue, as finding a site and moving their operations will be incredibly hard to do. So with their future hanging in the balance, it’s a very opportune time to seek out and try their beers.

Has the appetite for craft beer reached its peak?

I believe the recent years have had many negative impacts on craft beer. There’s been saturation in domestic markets with hampered export opportunities. The boom meant a lot of market place confusion with a plethora of choice, many new styles, and some muddled executions.

There were some 80-100 closures announced in the last year and yet the support of local breweries has somehow never been more felt. I predict many more closures, and a bit of a shake-out, but I certainly don’t think craft beer will disappear altogether. Perhaps it’s time for the industry to adjust, to mature and to be less about vanity and new beers all the time – and more about consistency and a clearer offer.

What do you love most about your job?

I love my job. It’s been tough at times. We have had to be very dynamic adjusting to online and cans only in 2020 – and then rolling with the punches of a hard Brexit; cost of living crisis; and all the increases in costs of ingredients, packaging and utilities. That said, I love getting to be creative and stay true to our principles of making beers we believe in.

We have a motto of making good beer, with good people in a way that respects where we are. I feel a lot of pride when we see a beer through from concept to recipe to finished product to being sent out in the world.

I also love it when I see people visit our taproom for the first time, and I get to pour them a pint and tell them a little about the beer – and watch them take their first sip. That’s a big deal for me, and it never gets old!

How do you see your life and the business in 10 years’ time?

Hopefully in 10 years’ time, Duration will still be here, we’ll have built a bespoke taproom and restaurant at the brewery site. And we’ll have carved out Norfolk on the map for great beer, and become a bit of a destination brewery. While I don’t expect to be at the reigns then, I’ve love to be living in Norfolk and still having a hand in things.

I don’t envisage Duration becoming a big scale brewery: I think a lot of the merit in independent breweries is they are creative and remain explorative, and getting too big would negate that.

I hope most of all, that in our way, Duration continues to make balanced small batch beer and continues to provide a safe and enjoyable place for people to shake off the working week and just celebrate the act of coming together for some much-needed leisure time!

How would you sell the idea of a career in the brewing industry to young women with no beer background?

I got into brewing to support my partner with no beer background at all. Though it is male-dominated, craft beer is receptive and open to change and I have found it a very inviting space.

I would advise women interested in entering the field to look up Unite Brew and look up a brewery near them hosting a collaborative brew day for International Women’s Day and rock up to learn more.

There are also great support groups like Crafty Beer Girls, The Covern and Ladies That Beer. Take the plunge, be brave and get involved. There are also several women running breweries, and inspiring female brewers. Seek them out, follow them on socials and let your feed share all the great work going on by women in beer.

Our Malts
Read More
View All

Back to top