Long-term rugby friends will raise a toast tomorrow as they unveil a new venture, the Flying Monk Brewery.

The beer business, in Hullavington, is the brainchild of four men, who came up with the idea while sharing a drink in the Whole Hog in Market Lane, Malmesbury, one evening.

They are Tony Kemp, 53, of Hullavington, whose brother runs the Whole Hog; Iain Morrison, 64, of Corston; Anthony Hibbard, of Malmesbury, and Richard Pickford, of Lechlade, who played together for Minety Rugby Club and have known each other for decades.

Months of investment will come to fruition this week, with their first ale, called Elmers after the 11th- century monk who broke both legs trying to glide with man-made wings from the abbey.

Mr Morrison, an investor in the company and working in the brewing side, said: “Tony has been in the industry for a huge number of years and he has always wanted to brew his own beer, but just didn’t have the backing to do it.

“We are all friends of his and we said we have sufficient confidence to say that we will back it.

“He’s got the expertise and we are all absolutely excited. It’s taken a long time but every component is in place.”

Elmers is a medium-coloured ale, 3.8 per cent and described as ‘“quaffable and not too hoppy”.

The team is supported by master brewer Mark Wallington, who set up Archers Brewery in Swindon and has three gold medals.

With his help, the team has already devised the recipe for their second beer to be launched this summer.

The Flying Monk brewery plans to hold a competition to allow punters to pick the name of their next ale.

Mr Morrison said: “We were looking to start the brewery up in November but the property we were due to go into fell through.

“We had to negotiate and it’s all done now but the place had to be fitted out. It’s all brand new, state-of-the-art kit and it has taken 16 weeks to put in.

“We have got 50 businesses who have agreed to take the beer within a 50-mile radius.”

The team hopes to employ a local person to train to become a brewer.