Brewery News [January 2019]

[extract from minutes of Wigan CAMRA Branch AGM on 16th January 2019]

Sales continue to be strong going into the new year and We’ve received great feedback on all our new beers. We have brewed a new Milkshake IPA, this time using Simcoe and Chinook hops, for a tropical fruit finish. We have brewed a new Session IPA this time with Chinook and Cascade hops. A New England Session Pale and a New England IPA will also be brewed soon. We are looking at canning some of our new beers as we continue to modernize and grow into new markets.

This has a been a busy quarter so far. Sales have done well in the run up to Christmas and continue to get positive feedback on the full range of beers. It is probably widely known now that the brewery is up for sale, this has been a decision made by Paul and Delia for various reasons. Marked change in the type and style of beers that are becoming increasingly popular these not being the beers Martland came into this business to produce and go against what they stand for as producers of English real ale (this is no disrespect to any other breweries). This coupled with other personal reasons have led them making this decision. Paul and Delia and the whole Martland team have really enjoyed the experience and in a way lived the Martland Mill Brewery dream, from the humble beginnings of small batch brewing in the garage, to full scale production, but know that now it is time to move on. A big thank you to Julie who is stepping down as our BLO and also to CAMRA for their continued support.

The Mayflower brewery kit had been put in storage after it was removed from the New Charles Dickens pub in Wigan. The brewery was, and still is under the joint ownership of Alan Branagan and Peter Haslam. Peter works in Hindley and was aware that there was enough space for the reinstallation of the brewery behind the former police station in Hindley. This is where the brewery is now located. The brewery was installed in November after work had been done to get the plumbing and electrics up to standard. Brewing in the 5-barrel plant began in December. They currently have 2 fermenters but are looking to get another 2. The brewing is being done by Mark Haslam (Peter’s son) who is working with Alan to brew Mayflower’s five core beers, Swinley Gold, Douglas Valley, Lancashire Stout, Pie P.A. and Wigan Bier. Mark trained under Alan and when Mayflower closed brewed at Dunscar Bridge. He is now looking to create some new beers in the future. Alan states that they’re looking at doing tap takeovers/meet the brewer in local pubs and venues, initially.

Jonny reports having had a bumper year and continues to enjoy brewing. He said in 2019 he’d be keen to do a collab but needs some encouragement (a kick up the bum).

Whilst the year appears to have been less active than in previous years, possibly due to the fact that the brewery is up for sale Prospects beer sales have continued to progress and awards have been won by Totem and Cascade Blonde. New beers produced over the year were 4.3% Prospect Pale Ale released for St Georges Day, Raspberry Milkshake IPA, and Helles Bells.

Business at the brewery continues to thrive with a very busy Christmas period. Wigan Brewhouse was founded in December 2017 and their first brew was carried out on the 28th December. After just over a year of trading the brewery has gone from strength to strength. Another new beer has been brewed in January; it is called “Tempo” a 4.1% pale ale. Ingredients include; Golden Promise and Vienna malts, there are three different hops used: Galena, Cascade and Amarillo. Tempo will be available for sale from the end of January. Following the success of the dark ale All-Nighter, it will be brewed again with the input of our very own Sandy Motteram. Wigan Brewhouse will be providing two beers (Tempo and Old Boston Plum Porter) for the Bents and Bongs Beer Bash. They are also proud to be sponsoring Wigan Beer Festival. The festival will be formally launched from the Wigan Brewhouse brewery.

At the end of a very busy 2018, set out below are just some of the highlights of Wigan Brewhouse’s first year of trading: –
• Received two CAMRA awards in the Brewed in Wigan category for Old Boston Plum Porter and Kicker Session IPA.
• The brewing of a collaborative beer called “Twin Town” with Brasserie Angevine from Angers in France. This beer was brewed to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the twinning of Wigan with Angers. Samples of the beer were given to the people of Wigan from a pop up bar in Wigan town centre. Formal celebrations took place at The Old Courts.
• In July Wigan Brewhouse welcomed 30 agricultural students from Angers, who spent a day at the brewery learning about the principles of brewing real ale.
• In April and December Wigan Brewhouse carried out tap takeovers at the Albion Ale House in Standish with the support of owner Kevin Goudy. This proved a great success and helped to promote Wigan Brewhouse new beers.
• During its first year Wigan Brewhouse successfully introduced 8 new beers including; Slider, Kicker, Casino and All-Nighter and in addition worked alongside Five Towns brewery to create a 5.6% ale called “Fascination”.
• Wigan Brewhouse was proud to donate two beers for the CAMRA stand at the Manchester Pride Festival. Samples were given away free of charge to promote and encourage people to sample real ale.
• A bespoke beer was brewed for the Wigan Diggers Festival. The beer was called Gerrard Winstanley Ale, named after the founder of the Wigan Diggers movement. The ale has a distinctive elderflower tone.

The variety of Wigan Brewhouse brewery tours has been extended to include curry evenings and sporting events such as rugby, football and boxing. So overall a great first year!

All in all 2018 has been a busy year for Wily Fox Brewery, new brews, expanding keg range, improvements to the Brewery, opening of Sherrington’s Bar and plans for a second outlet. 2018 saw Karma Citra win a Gold Award at the National Beer X competition in the Standard Bitters and Pale Ales category for small pack beers. We were over the moon and proud to win a Bronze Award at Beer X for Karma Citra, Overall Champion in small pack beers category. Karma Citra also did well at The World Beer Awards gaining a Bronze. Karma continues to sell very well and we consistently brew to keep with demand. We decided to brew a craft lager in the summer of 2018 and Uberlegen Craft Pilsner was born. A combination of lager malt with German yeast and hops produced a classic Pilsner beer with a refreshing clean and crisp taste with a great dry finish. Sales have gone well with some outlets having Uberlegen as a constant on the bar. Our keg range has expanded over the year, we have Karma Citra, The Fox Hat, Uberlegen Craft Pilsner and Dark Flagon, in addition we will have Prohibition APA and Dublin Up Irish Stout. Sales have been steadily rising and it’s great to be able to offer choice. Plans are in motion for a second outlet in Orrell, more details will be given in due course. We would also like to open our tap room this year, lots to look forward to!

Despite hiring a new head brewer earlier in the year with great aspirations for a new range of beers, Paul at Windmill took the difficult decision to close after finding no business case to continue with the brewery and has sold the kit to Bowness Bay Brewing, based in Kendal.