Award-winning Harrogate brewery is forced to ditch thousands of pints by pandemic
One of Harrogate’s most successful independent breweries is reopening its beer garden next week - with the sobering thought that the pandemic has already forced it to throw away tens of thousands of pints of beer.
Ian Fozard, who has run Rooster’s brewery together with his sons Tom and Oliver since 2011, said 12 months of rules hitting the hospitality sector meant his award-winning business famed for its innovative range of popular craft beers such as Baby Faced Assassin, was now running almost on empty.
Mr Fozard said: “Independent breweries like ours have been able to survive on the back of our web-shop, local deliveries and some retail and online business. But we’re just about running on empty now.
“A huge amount of beer has had to be destroyed in the industry as a consequence of the lockdowns. We’re still counting but we could end up throwing away 35,000 to 45,000 pints of unsaleable beer.”
Mr Fozard, who is also national chairman of The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) said the Government furlough scheme had been been a lifeline, without which Roosters would not have survived as a business.
But, he added, it was vital that the reopening of bars and pubs went according to plan in the Prime Minister’s roadmap out of lockdown.
Mr Fozard said: “Pubs are the lifeblood of most breweries and we are so reliant on their reopening, initially outdoors next Monday, April 12, then fully on May 17.
“The independent beer industry is still here but it’s had to withstand big losses.”
The challenging national picture for brewers saw SIBA launch its #BrewersDownTheDrain protest last month.
Recent figures from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) estimated up to 87 million pints of beer will be thrown away because of the measures against Covid-19.
Things were going so well for Roosters before the pandemic that it invested £850,000 in building a brand new state-of-the-art brewery and taproom at Hornbeam Park, three times the size of its original premises in Knaresborough.
Despite the challenging times, last year even saw Roosters' head brewer Oliver Fozard named Brewer of the Year nationally by the British Guild of Beer Writers.
With the lockdown progressing on schedule so far, this family-run business can feel optimism returning to the trade.
Although it can open its beer garden attached to its taproom in stage two of the Government's roadmap out of lockdown, its financial future, like other breweries, is very much dependant on pubs’ ability to trade profitably and without restriction sooner rather than later.
Mr Fozard said: “Under the rules as they are, we are dependent on our Taproom but we have freshly brewed beer and we are ready to go .
“We are delighted to be opening our beer garden on April 12. It will be table service only and pre - booking at busy times is strongly advised.”
How Harrogate became a hub of independent breweries
Harrogate and the wider district has become known as one of Yorkshire’s strongholds of independent breweries since the craft beer and micro brewery revolution first exploded in the UK more than a decade ago.
As well as Roosters in Harorgate, other notable indie breweries include:
Daleside Brewery Ltd in Starbeck
Harrogate Brewing Co in Harrogate
Cold Bath Brewing Co in Harrogate
Turning Point Brewing Co in Knaresborough
Bad Co Brewing & Distilling Company in Dishforth
Hambleton Brewery in Melmerby
Black Sheep Brewery in Masham
T&R Theakston Ltd in Masham
Wetherby Brew Co in Wetherby
Samuel Smith's Brewery in Tadcaster
More information at www.siba.co.uk
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