Is there such a thing as an English lager? Having visited Richard Keene, who invested his life savings into starting The Cotswold Brewing Company in 2005, I would like to argue that there definitely is. What’s more, Richard’s lager is beginning to make a big impact on both existing lager drinkers, and those who didn’t think they liked lager until they tried his.

John Kilsby, who helps Richard promote his brews by selling them at farmers' markets, says people come up to the stall shaking their heads. “They apologise when they pass the table, saying that they don’t like lager. Then, I offer them a taste. That’s all I have to do and they are converted. The lager Richard brews has got character. It’s nothing like the thin, mass-produced disco fizz lagers that have given this drink such a bad name."

He went on to explain that Richard’s inspiration comes from continental Europe where lager is brewed to the very highest quality. This remarkable little microbrewery is housed in an old Cotswold stone barn, on a working farm estate, in the charming little hamlet of Foscot, near Churchill and Chipping Norton. Well, if you are going to name your lager after the Cotswolds, it stands to reason that it should be brewed in a Cotswold stone barn.

Being confronted with a long line of gleaming fermentation and conditioning plants when you enter the barn is a surreal experience. However, it seems right, when on turning, you spot Richard armed with a large spade, shovelling spent malted barley into a large container, which will be given to a local farmer who feeds it to his sheep.

The tanks might suggest this is a high-tech operation, but the spade — which requires a considerable amount of manpower — links the brewery firmly with our concept of the Cotswolds.

Richard’s interest in brewing began when he was very young and his father had enough sense to turn a blind eye to his son’s appreciation of his fast-disappearing home brew which was always stored in the larder.

After studying brewing and microbiology at Herriott Watt University, Scotland, Richard joined Courage as a graduate trainee. He then went on to work for Pilgrim brewery in Reigate and became head brewer at Archer's, in Swindon, for three years. When he realised that what he wanted most in the world was to establish his own brewing company, he completed an MBA at Oxford Brookes. His wife, Emma, was also keen to get involved and saw it as a splendid way of using her IT client management and sales skills.

Together, they began the difficult task of introducing a Cotswold lager to the general public in 2005. They knew it would be a long haul, but were spurred on by the knowledge that 70 per cent of the population are lager drinkers and that while there are more than 400 microbreweries making bitter, only one, in Greenwich, was making lager, which was distributed only in the London area.

Richard explained that his main aim was to keep his product local. By this he means selling within a 30- to 40-mile radius of the brewery, as there are many free houses in this area. He believes that the people of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire appreciate the better-quality things in life, which is possibly why they chose to live here in the first place. He’s convinced that anyone who appreciates the beauty of the Cotswolds is open to appreciating a quality lager.

So once the gleaming tanks had been installed and Richard began experimenting with different recipes, Emma started to work on marketing his brews, by contacting local pubs and off-licences.

The list of pubs, restaurants and hotels that now have Cotswold lager on tap is impressive. They include The Big Bang, Walton Street, Oxford; The Highwayman Hotel, Burford; The Jam Factory Bar & Restaurant, Oxford; The Swan, Swinbrook; The Woolpack, Banbury; The King's Head Inn, Bledington; and The Plough Inn, Finstock.

Bottles of Cotswold premium lager can be bought at Millets Farm Shop, Frilford; Huffkins, Burford and Witney; Oxford Wine, Standlake; and the Cotswold Deli, Chipping Norton. But this list grows daily, thanks to Emma’s marketing skills and the quality of this product, which is now gaining a faithful following.

So what does Richard’s lager taste like? He brews three different lagers and a wheat beer (4.2% ABV) modelled on the famous Weisse Beer from Germany. Don’t be put off by the cloudy appearance of this beer; it’s unfiltered, so that’s how it comes. Served chilled on a summer day it has a fruity flavour that gets people asking for more.

The Cotswold Premium Lager (5% ABV), first brewed in 2005, is by far Richard’s biggest seller. It’s not just crisp and clean with a positive citric note, but has a long, lingering, dry finish too, due perhaps to the Warmington White Liberty hops that go into the brew.

His session beer is Cotswold Lager, with an ABV of 3.8%, which is not a complicated brew, but that doesn’t stop it being bubbly and vivacious.

Any moment now you will also find Cotswold Winter Lager pushing its way into local pubs. At 5.3%, this is a dark brew, which can really pack a punch, making it a perfect drink during the winter months.

My friend Kate Farquhar-Thomson arranged for a party of us to visit The Cotswold Brewery, since, like me, she believes it is important to support our local producers. Besides, she has become rather fond of Cotswold Premium Lager, which is on tap at her local, The Crown, in Church Enstone, and wanted to see where it was brewed. She was not disappointed. Neither was I.