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Hawkshead founder Alex Brodie: as in the United States "there will be craft brewers that will emerge as quite large players"

Hawkshead unveils plans for second brewery

Hawkshead Brewery will soon have room to spread its wings thanks a £3 million expansion that will have it become a two-brewery operation. More than just adding capacity, company founder Alex Brodie says the expansion will position Hawkshead for a coming craft brewing consolidation

On its way to a site in Flookburgh, near Cartmel in south Cumbria is a 40 barrel Steinecker MicroCube system supplied by Krones. The brewery will be adjacent another of Hawkshead parent company Halewood International’s divisions, Willow Water.

A few miles away Hawkshead’s existing plant in Staveley is to remain in production after the new brewery is commissioned. It will be dedicated to small batch specialist and limited edition beers. It currently produces 7,000 barrels annually.

Brodie said, ““This protects the DNA of our business and doing lots of different innovative craft beers.”

Halewood acquired a controlling stake in Hawkshead in March of this year from Brodie, the former BBC foreign correspondent who founded the brewery in 2002.

Brodie commented, “The brewery is 15 years old and it has been straining at the leash for years. Halewood’s backing allows us to go to the next level.”

And that means seeking more of a national footprint for Hawkshead’s beers, growing the volumes of the larger brands through sales in multiple retailers and via Halewood International’s own distribution network. Export growth will also be explored.

“Watch Windermere Pale,” said Brodie. “We have a reputation at being very good at low gravity session beer. And Windermere Pale, which has been going since 2009, has been quietly acknowledged as one of the best low gravity session beers in the country.”

More than that, Brodie sees Hawkshead now better positioned for a consolidation of the UK craft beer market.

“What is happening here is like what happened with craft beer in the United States in the ‘80s. There will be craft brewers that will emerge as quite large players. You can do this without selling your soul to the multiples,” he explained.

“And we will now be in a position to test this thesis. And we will be in a position to challenge and compete. But there is no intention to start selling cheap beer to the multiples.”

Hawkshead will be expanding kegged, canned and bottled beers. That said, cask ales currently account for 65% of the brewery’s production and, according to Brodie, cask remains a big part of its future.

“Cask ale is Britain’s craft,” he said. “We believe in it and, more to the point, so do most beer lovers, especially here in the North.”

Additional staff will be hired to run the second brewery but a decision as to how this will be structured is a ways off.

Brodie said, “The whole logistics of running a two-site operation and going to be quite challenging and we are trying to work out now what staff will be needed.”

Hawkshead new plant is a rapid-batch brewhouse, with the MicroCube system the first brewery of its type to be installed in the United Kingdom.

Krones UK sales director Mark Heath was understandably delighted to have won the brewhouse order from Hawkshead.

“It will be a showcase for us, demonstrating how rapid-batch brewing can future-proof a modern small brewery, giving it volume without the need to install a huge brewhouse.”

A more detailed look at the MicroCube system can be found here.

The new brewery is due to be commissioned in early summer 2018.

Larry Nelson
1st December 2017

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