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The Saltaire team: (from left) packaging plant manager Gary Carty, packaging plant assistant Danny Mathers, operations director Dan Spampinato and managing director Ewen Gordon.

 


Photo credit: Sal Robinson

Saltaire enters contract packaging market

Saltaire Brewery is opening its doors to other brewers, offering a full recipe-to-label tailored service following the installation of a state-of-the-art bottling line.

The Moravek kit, installed in the Yorkshire brewer’s new £1million 8,000 square foot packaging plant, can handle runs from 1,000 to 45,000 litres. SSV-manufactured tanks and a Harland labelling machine complete the operation. The operation gained SALSA accreditation in February.

Two production slots have already been booked by local breweries, said managing director Ewen Gordon, who was promoting the service at SIBA BeerX in Liverpool last month.

“We massively over-spec’d because we noticed there’s a lack of good supply and service in the industry when it comes to packaging. We want to offer everything through to taking a beer to market.”

Saltaire has already packaged more than half a million bottles of its own beers which are piped under the road from the brewery to the new plant.

Gordon believes quality has improved thanks to sterile filtration which means the beer no longer has to be pasteurised before packaging – “we don’t have to compromise any more”.

Numbers, too, have improved as a result of developing direct relationships with supermarkets. Saltaire has been able to move into production with Morrisons. Four co-branded products are set to hit the shelves in April with another two to follow.

“We reviewed our future two-and-a-half years ago, setting out what we wanted to achieve, and the bottling line is the last piece of the puzzle,” he said.

“We were worried about the market. Our beers were 70% cask and 30% in 500ml bottles. Now we are developing multiple revenue streams.” 

The current split is 50% cask, 30% bottled and 20% keg and can.

Canning will continue to be contracted out to Bad Co Brewing in Dishforth as Saltaire resists the industry trend away from bottling. “There’s space for a canning line if we want to go that way, but we sold 1.5 million bottles last year and we’ll base our decisions on that!”

Vacant space at the packaging site also means beer production can be expanded quickly by installing additional fermenters there, he added.

As part of a three to five-year plan the company doubled capacity when it upgraded to a 40-barrel Moeschle brewhouse in 2017. Last summer it rebranded and revamped its product range, introducing new beers in keg and 330ml bottle to ‘bridge the gap’ between craft and more traditional brews.

For the last eight months it has been working on exports with Sovereign Beverage Company and now ships beers to a dozen countries.

And Saltaire has also started milling its own malt, 90% of which is now crushed at the point of brewing, said Gordon. “It’s one more thing that means we can take full control over the product.”

Phil Mellows
30th April 2019

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