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Axholme's brain trust: (from left) directors Shahram Shadan, William Douglas, Mike Richards and Charles Lumley

Axholme Brewing going to the chapel

Work is underway on a new brewery housed in Grimsby’s St Barnabas Church.

It will be the new headquarters of Lincolnshire’s Axholme Brewing Company, which is installing a 15-barrel brewhouse to add to its existing four-barrel plant at Crowle in North Lincolnshire.

The new gas-fired kit, supplied by Willis European, is being fabricated in China and is due to arrive at the end of June, along with four fermenters with a total capacity of 3,200 litres. Brewing should be underway in early August.

“We’ve hit the point where we’re struggling to supply existing customers,” explained Axholme director Will Douglas. “At the moment we can’t keg or make a lager, which we’d like to do, and we’ll also be able to start canning our beers, using an outside contractor.

“We’re also discussing launching a new brand. We’ve been straddling traditional and craft beers and we’ve been experimenting, so you can expect a wider range from us, leaning towards craft.”

Fellow director and project manager Shahram Shadan has worked exclusively with local firms on the transformation of the church. “The inside and outside of the building will be unrecognizable,” he promised. “We have gone back to the shell and will be giving it new specialist flooring, wall coverings, windows and ceilings.”

Meanwhile, the four-barrel kit, originally set up by founder and head brewer Mike Richards in 2012, will be retained for small runs. “We produce a number of bespoke brews, including for Grimsby Town FC, so a pilot kit will be handy for us.”

Axholme had developed a “substantial following” around North Lincolnshire, said Douglas, driven by sales of its flagship cask beer Cleethorpes Pale Ale.

“We’ve seen phenomenal growth and people are looking for new beers from us. The expansion means we can make our special edition brews more widely available, and we can go into Lincoln, Doncaster and Hull, which we’ve barely touched.

“Keeping customers stocked with bottled beers has also been a challenge. Now we’ll be able to sell cans direct, online and through a brewery shop on the Grimsby site once planning permission has been agreed.

“Kegs will enable us to go to places we can’t get into now, and we’d like to do more nationally, perhaps using KeyKegs.”

An assistant brewer to support Mike Richards across the two sites will be recruited before the end of the year.

Total spend on the project is £200,000, a combination of a £54,000 grant from Humber Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growing the Humber programme plus asset finance and investment from one of the business’s owners.

“The Humber LEP grant was vital because it unlocked bigger and more efficient equipment which makes us more future-proofed and more environmentally sustainable,” said Douglas, praising local business hub E-Factor for its support in making the grant application and providing temporary offices during the transition.

Phil Mellows
24th May 2018

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