It is the now the end of week 2 and our relocation works are progressing nicely and at this point I would like to spend a little time to look back at a few things...
When I started this brewery in my garage back in 2011 I could not even begin to imagine the rather exciting position we are now in. What was once a little part time business winning many local awards (and apparently making lots of folk happy!) is now a very serious business taking its second major step.
It has been almost 5 years since I started brewing at our current site in Lymington and we have grown organically and steadily and have always focused on quality. I never have had ambitions of running a large brewery and this is still the case today. We ran out of room at our current site a couple of years ago and have had a second location quite close by for storage purposes. The area of our current site is far from industrial and therefore trying to find additional premises on the same industrial estate has been impossible. The few premises that became available were quickly bought by (wealthy?) individuals for their own recreational use while us as a business simply wanted to do business. Isn't this the purpose of industrial units?! Anyway, hard luck. After a long search process I think we have finally nailed it and found what I believe to be both a much better location and nicer premises than anything else I had seen during the painful search. Perhaps this is fate.
The original 1 barrel setup from my garage was used for the first few months in Lymington while waiting for the new shiny stainless kit to arrive
When I was looking to move from my garage back in late 2013 Gordleton Industrial Park was the only site I found that had a suitable industrial unit for rent during the search. The New Forest national park is a far cry from a “vibrant” beer scene, the total opposite in fact. This is one of the reasons we have never done that much trade locally, with most establishments preferring traditional and probably cheaper beer. Also, a lot of pubs are very restricted with the beer they can purchase. We do have some local outlets and I thank them very much for supporting us over the last few years. Please get in touch if you want to know who these good folk are. We simply have had to sell to the markets which wanted our modern beer. The phrase “support local” was not really applicable to us except for a handful of places that did take our beer. To survive and grow we would have to sell elsewhere and that is exactly what we did. You were (and still are) more likely to see our beer in Bristol or London than a typical New Forest pub. Of course, we also have many good customers in nearby cities such as Southampton and Portsmouth. There are some smashing folk in the Lymington area and it is such a lovely area to work. It will be missed.
Local folk may not find our beer as much as they might want to but there has been one mighty thing during our time in Lymington – the folk who have regularly visited (and therefore supported) our little shop and bar at the brewery. You know who you are and I send you a massive “thank you”. Personally, this has been one of the most rewarding aspects within the business and I cannot imagine a day when this stops being the case. Jolly folk have been making the effort to visit our cold industrial unit on a dark Friday night in the colder months for many years now. They could easily walk to and sit in a cosy pub and sup a pint there so why have they been coming to visit us? Surely, it has to be the beer and atmosphere of a working brewery, right? Those people I am forever grateful and even though we do not take much revenue through our bar (that location thing again as well as lack of public transport) it has given me great personal pleasure. At our new site in Hardley we are planning to have major focus on a new taproom and we shall shortly be appointing a member of staff to manage this. With a dedicated unit for the taproom (goodbye days of ducking out of the way of a forklift or malt bins!) things will be a lot better. We have more room and can have permanent seating and can easily accommodate people while brewing and packaging is happening in another unit. We also have very good public transport at our new site so I see no reason why we cannot make our new taproom the popular place it deserves to be. I hope those that have regularly supported our current taproom can come visit us as often as they can, and of course, we will have a whole new bunch of (hopefully) thirsty beery people in the Waterside area. We will of course talk more about our tap room plans at a later stage.
There is one heck of a lot of stuff going on right now and we of course have to maintain our focus on producing great beer at current site while also managing the relocation #challenging
So, on this note, let's see what has happened during week 2 at our new site…
The two mezzanine floors have been built, nearly doubling our storage space in each unit
A concrete base outside the brewery unit has been built for our new and rather hefty chiller system
Electrical work has started (we finally have electricity meters!)
Basic plumbing in the brewery area
Application for a premises licence has been submitted to the council (for our taproom)
I have just cycled to the new brewery in an attempt to get fit again!! Seriously :-)
Mezzanine floor #1
Mezzanine floor #2
Future cold room space on mezzanine #1
That is it for this week folks. See you this time next week and thanks for reading :-)
Founder, Vibrant Forest Brewery Ltd