Thursday 23 July 2009

Blown away

When the economy gets blustery there are things that just refuse to lay down and die. Small breweries are one of those things. The tree in this picture, up on the common land on the way to the Hesket Newmarket brewery, seems to be another.

I have been buying beer from Hesket Newmarket ever since we came to the pub. They are interesting in that it is a village cooperative brewery. Around 70 people own equal shares in the brewery and this is a part of its success. I decided to drag Ann and Sarah along to see it today. Well, I enjoyed the day out.

Within the last few years the brewery has been bottling beers. Their bottling "plant" is so small it staggers me that it makes commercial sense. But they only supply the small outlets and avoid the pricing demands made of the supermarkets, which apparently show an interest, but at 40-50p a bottle that they are prepared to pay, they do right to reject. Loss leading eh? Screwing the suppliers more like. It makes me wonder how little the supermarkets are paying for the really cheap stuff.

Despite having no large retail distribution the demand for Hesket bottled beer has doubled in the last year. Cask sales are also very healthy, it would seem. So, yet again I can report a strong cask and niche bottle market that is doing very well indeed.

Thanks to Arthur for the samples, although it would be nice to be greeted with more than just "I know that face". He said the same when he saw me at the NWAF.

Doris 4.3% was of course in good form, as was Blencathra 3.2%,we are all still trying to decide on Dead Bunny Mild (No Hops, get it?) but then mild isn't what I normally choose to drink anyway. "All milds taste kinda soapy" says Arthur. Sarah enjoyed the saccharine laden lemonade, fine vintage apparently and matured nicely in Arthur's beer store. Not as nice, it was claimed, as the 10 year old farm made lemonade Arthur found in a hedge, but then he is a self professed bottom feeder. One expects top entertainment from the in-house character.

Sorry, no footnotes today, just a finishing asside about footnotes. I know, some of you don't like them. Tough, it's my blog.


Cooking Lager said...

Tell 'em to build a bigger more efficient brewery, with economies of scale so they can flog there grog for buttons.

Unknown said...

Now why do that and have to compete in a cut throat market when there is good enough demand for what they are doing?

A better option would be to get it brewed under licence, but I suspect they wouldn't want to do that either. Might as well be called Morrissey Fox.

There are plenty of people making mass produced beer. There is no point joining that game.

Rob said...

Its true Dave, I have been hearing allot of similar stories from brewers my way. Record years, best winters in ages and all sorts. These are positive indicators for changes in consumer attitudes, vital blows against (as I call) the dark side of the brewing buisness. The giant monolithic, market domineering brewers of our times bleed slowly like large wounded mammals. Bring them down I say!

Brewers Union Local 180 said...

Does his brewery have a sink?

Alistair Reece said...

I like the idea of a cooperative brewery - really gives a sense of ownership to the product and would encourage brand loyalty.

Unknown said...

Ted - "....heading down the slippery slope of increasing antagonism...."

A sink? As it so happens, I don't recall.....