Our webshop is about six weeks old now so it seems an opportune time to update on Leigh on Sea Brewery's progress in these strange and challenging times. Since March we've done our best to transform our business from selling cask and keg beer to pubs, to getting our beer out in cans, bottles and minipins to our local public.
We've been meaning to put some of our beer into cans ever since we started (3 years ago) and in March we came back from SIBA BeerX in Liverpool, having made some useful contacts and with a plan to make it happen. Chances are we'd have got round to it in a month or two, but within a week of our return - all the pubs were shut, and it was either change business or have no business...
So, instead of packing our beer into cask, Keykeg and a few bottles, our "craftier" beers are packed into 1,000 litre "Arlington" containers, then transported to our new partners Can It, in Bolton. A few days later the beer returns to us in 2,000+ 440ml cans.
We now have 5 products in can; Legra Pale - our award winning and best selling session IPA, Two Tree Island, our 4.5% red ale, Crowstone 5.5% black IPA, Cockle Row Spit our strong 5.6% US IPA - and, most recently Brhubarb, the "tart not sour" rhubarb saison - at a sessionable 3.9%. SS9, our imperial stout is going away for canning this week, and we've (rather bravely we think) stuck to the 440ml format for that one as well! Legra Pale has proved so popular we start brewing the next batch as soon as we receive a fresh pallet of cans.
Not everything is best in a can though - and we're continuing to bottle condition our traditional beers; Six Little Ships best bitter, Kursaal Gold etc. We've considered outsourcing the bottling of these because of the increase in scale - but for the moment we're still doing it in house. So - a quick hour bottling at the end of a cask run has become a team bottling day.
The cask beer we'd brewed before lockdown is gradually leaving the brewery in freshly poured 17 pint minipins as people try to recreate that pub cask ale experience at home. We're actively enjoying the changing trade and getting out to meet our drinkers through the home delivery service.
We're also now planning for the reopening of the Taproom which at last looks as though it might not be that far away. To start with the focus is bound to be on outdoor drinking - so we're investing in some new outdoor furniture to replace our rather motley current provision.
I'll sign off with a response to the most common question we're asked; is our business surviving the lockdown? Frankly, it's still touch and go. We've (for the moment) been able to replace our pub trade successfully with the home retail trade. What's missing though is our own Taproom income, and all those occasional bonus happenings; beer festivals and local events like the Leigh Folk Festival and Regatta etc.
In previous years these events have been key to our survival, and it's looking as though there's no return to normality for the rest of the year, with most events that take a bit of planning already cancelled. We'll continue to do our darnedest to survive though. In buying our beer you're helping us to do that and can be absolutely sure that your support is appreciated!