Somehow it crept up on us. One minute we decided opening a micro pub would be a great idea as a ‘weekend hobby’. Eighteen months later, countless hours of graft later, great sunny bank holidays later, one national lockdown later, we decided opening a brewery might be a good idea too……were we crazy? Maybe…….definitely……sounds like a fantastic album name, but there were certainly times when we did wonder.
Our micro pub which we launched in May 2019 had been an unmitigated success. So much so, we had been looking for a second venue for at least 6 months (more about that in my next blog!) and were well down the line with that, when one morning my mobile phone pinged. I was half asleep and opened a text from Phil (one of the Gorilla Brothers) which started;
‘I’m not sure I should tell you this but….’
Reading further on, Phil informed me that the micro brewery in the Industrial yard his other business is situated in, were vacating the premises at the end of August. We had already discussed the building and how it was all suited to be a brewery and what we would do with it if it ever came onto the market. Here was our chance to see if we could deliver.
After various discussions with the landlord (who is Phil’s landlord already so that was fairly easy!) we would be the proud owners of a lease on the building come the first of September 2020. We had no brewing kit, we had no one who understood brewing, neither of us had any experience of brewing a pint – only drinking a few (!) of them now and again – where to start.
Although the national lockdown was a fairly scary time, we tried to remain upbeat and trusted in the old adage that in every negative situation, something positive would come out of it for some people – we needed to be those people. Firstly, various industries shedding jobs meant we found our ageing punk rocker Head Brewer (did I mention he has a green Mohican?) and we were off and running. Ian was on board, and yes, he is a bit of a mad professor in the beer world – wherever we take him, someone knows him. I guess having a green Mohican might do that for you?
We secured a 6 BBL brewing kit at a decent price, got it back to Mexborough with the help from some friends, and basically hit the first of September like a starving man would a buffet table at a wedding. We wanted a vanilla flavoured porter so we did it. German smoked beer – check. A beer named after the most famous Gorilla in cinematic history? Welcome to ‘KONG’ a monster IPA. We even had Ian juicing and zesting 80 naval oranges for our ‘Orang-A-Tang’ – a orange flavoured IPA – the result? Very nice, but maybe we’ll try 100 oranges next time for that little bit more tang.
In the interim, Radio Sheffield turned up to interview us one morning – although starting their piece by saying ‘Some people would say you were crazy to start a brewery in a pandemic lockdown….’ wasn’t exactly what we were expecting, as they say – no publicity is bad publicity!
Our first weekend opening of our canal side beer garden saw a terrific number of customers come through the gates who were all very complimentary about what we had done.
The hard yards start now I guess – proper sales of casks to proper boozers – and then we need repeat sales to make sure we keep on growing. So far so good!
Hope you’ve enjoyed this – more coming soon!