It’s been a little while since we’ve posted any kind of updates in relation to our members, so we thought that we would take the opportunity to have a little catch up with each of the breweries on how things are with each of them at the moment and see what they have got going on in preparation for the festive period.
Follow the Brewer’s Market here: twitter.com/LivBrewerMarket
2022 was a year of consolidation for the team at Black Lodge Brewery, with a look to build on some steady and cautious progress in the previous twelve months, Rachel Hine from the brewery adds; “We actually added a new member to the team at the brewery which has made life a lot easier on site, this year we said hello to a new canning line! In all seriousness, it has made things a lot easier for us in packaging and maintaining our stock levels. It’s also helped us prepare really well for Christmas, as we have a few of the ‘Beer Drink with Me’ events coming up in the few weeks leading up to the big day along with the Liverpool Brewer’s Market. Keep your eyes open and your tastebuds ready for our new Christmas Pudding Ale. There’s also a raft of Christmas gift packs ready with glassware and beers, not to mention the new beanie hats along with vouchers – all perfect for Christmas stocking fillers!” Rachel finishes the enthusiasm telling us about the subscription service they have sorted out for the forthcoming year, perfect for spoiling someone – six beers delivered to your door each month.
Next year will see a bit more of the same from Black Lodge according to Rachel; “We have just launched our new ‘Baltic Pilsner’ and ‘Baltic Pale’ in 330ml cans ready for multipack fridge fillers. There will be plenty more bottomless beer events coming up at the Taproom along with some collaborations and other exciting bits and pieces, so stay tuned to our socials for as and when things get announced!”
Follow Black Lodge, here: twitter.com/BlackLodgeBrew
Webshop for beers and more, here: www.blacklodgebrewing.co.uk/shop-1
This year has been one of turbulence for the team at Carnival Brewing over on Gibraltar Row. A rather tough 2021 was experienced according to Dominic Hope-Smith, the Omicron variation of covid devoured the Christmas trade which many breweries rely on; “We effectively started the year on the back foot, however we were determined to deliver on our mission in celebrating modern beer and grow things in spite of covid”. The tasting room at the brewery reopened with a focus on the core range with a few forays into newer styles of beer. Dom continues; “We hired Marvellous Mike (Committee member, Mike Corbett) as our new brewer and took on Ruaric and Georgia to add some experience and presence at the tasting room and push the offer we have a lot further”
The highlights of the year include some great brews, which Dom lists, including the Muddler Mojito Gose with Vasyl and Martin from Kyiv’s Varvar Brewing. Dom reels off a few beers before suddenly remembering something important; “We re-released our record label showcase series with Rocket Recordings, Time We Left This World Today. We released a beer with the BMX Bandits called ‘Life Gose On’ and we brewed the official beer of this year’s Liverpool Craft Beer Expo with the great and the good of the Liverpool brewing scene. We brewed with Weird Beard, Varvar and Bundobust to do a take on the Ukrainian Golden Ale called ‘Vyshyvka’. It’s been a challenging year with Putin’s outrageous and stupid invasion of Ukraine, given all the domestic and international issues and not to mention the emotional toll it has taken on people. The rising costs of everything to the brewing process thanks to the war, Brexit, our own domestic political instability and covid, has been brutal.”
2023 is an unknown quantity for Carnival according to Dom, who muses that they are cautiously optimistic about things, with some exciting collaborations in the pipeline with Dig, Heist, First Chop and Beer Ink accomplished during 2022, they are keen to build on them. “We’re going to continue to develop events and cultural happenings at the tasting room and we are hopefully going to grow the team to push things further to facilitate bigger and better. We also really want to push our small pack offering with the beers we have been brewing. There’s also so much potential in Liverpool right now, hopefully the challenges ravaging the country will have a less detrimental effect on our community in the year ahead. We are truly grateful to everyone who has supported us through this year and wish you all our love – cheers to a great year ahead!”
Follow Carnival here: twitter.com/carnivalbrewing
Webstore, to buy beers here: carnivalbrewing.me/shop
Apparently, 2022 has been something of a wild ride for Noah and the rest of the team at Chapter Brewing, but they all feel that they are really doing some of their best work to date and brewing some excellent beers. Noah’s insistent that we don’t post any of his thoughts on 4Chan or something, but we’re better than that. We like to think so anyway; “The sterling efforts of the brewery team really are at the heart of the best things we’ve done and in particular, a shift away from keg conditioning to do force carbonation has meant a much more consistent kegged product compared to previous output, this also has had effect on the hopping of the beers. It’s made them pop more (in a good way) which is more fun, right?”
Currently, Chapter are focusing on getting the small pack range sorted for the Christmas period and making sure that the brewery can ride out the early stages of the new year. Noah muses; “We have to get into shape and be hitting the hammer come January, as things do slow down a lot during that period. We may look into brewing some lagers or big imperials during that period, where they’ll need the additional time in the tank and the pressure will be off somewhat. We have some barrels ready for some beer in the brewery too”.
Is 2023 going to be a good year for Chapter? Noah decides to be as inscrutable as a fortune cookie; “Oh yeah, 2023 will be a year of great fortune and success”.
Follow Chapter, here: twitter.com/ChapterBrewing
Webshop for your beers, here: chapterbrewing.co.uk/online-shop/
Things have progressed steadily for Clay Brow Nano over 2022, supplying most of their beer locally to West Lancashire. They have added a few new recipes to their range which Neil Parkin, the brewer and owner, feels have gone down really well; “The New England style pales and especially the stouts are something we are really passionate about and there are few more in the pipeline that we are excited to bring to drinkers. We’ve brewed a great New England called Chuggies with Beer EnGin who are based in Whiston and are really happy with that, along with repeated batches of the Black Metal Cat Black IPA we brew for Black Cat in Wavertree.”
Other collaboration brews have been created by Neil and his partner Lyndsay for bespoke events like a Best bitter for the Kittywake Boat Party in Wigan, to go along with the Elleswake IPA and Kittywake Pale. “These were really great brews with some great people, the whole thing is a family run enterprise and we have love working with them.”
For next year, Clay Brow are looking to expand their output; “We’re looking to do an expansion during January and into February, this will be at the current base of the brewery, but we’ve not ruled out moving if things are right. Stay tuned and maybe you’ll find out what else is on for us over the next six months to a year!”
Follow Clay Brow here: twitter.com/Clay_Brow_Nano
It’s been a year of consolidation for Glen Affric, putting a lot of energy into keeping the small package rolling out of the brewery, adding some new recipes to the roster and generally going about their business. There was also a recent taproom expansion at the site, which means the site has seen even more visitors.
The team are currently focusing on preparing for the Brewery’s 5th Birthday celebrations, part of which will involve the launch of the Queensway Stout along with a raft of barrel aged goodies which are about ready to hit the shelves this month. Part of the range that are being released include a single barrel-aged series of imperial stouts in Speyside Mulben, Elgin and Aberlour casks with a dessert stout range featuring Maple and Pecan and salted caramel imperials.
Next year, it will be more of the same for Glen Affric, keep on producing the core range and developing some recipes around them as well as seeing where the barrel-aged stouts take things and how to build on things over Christmas. There is also a potential bit of a refurb at the taproom early next year, so the team will be looking to make things more comfortable and enjoyable for your visits throughout 2023.
Follow Glen Affric, here: twitter.com/GlenAffricBrew
Webshop for Glen Affric goodies here: www.glenaffricbrewery.com/store
2022 has been a pretty enjoyable year for the team at Handyman Brewery; since the lockdown periods, people have had to up their games in terms of the variety of beer styles they are putting out and by adopting this approach, Handyman have managed to develop a wider clientele base. The team were recently joined by Gaz Matthews (formerly of Mad Hatter and Gibberish) who has brought his unorthodox approach to develop some quality beers, some of which include the usual array of unusual ingredients and eye popping flavours in the new year. Some of his previous stable of Gibberish beers have made the translation such as the Jam Roly Poly Wheat Wine.
The brewery itself is currently focusing on developing the quality and consistency of the core cask range according to Owner Kevin Kelly and Gaz Matthews; “Some seasonal sours on keg will be coming, along with a smattering of strong beers – mainly imperial stouts to warm the cockles” the latter offers. “Handyman have done or are doing some great collaborations with the likes of Salt, Pilot, Carnival, Mill Hill and Chapter. Ready in time for Christmas will be a bramble cheesecake sour, a peanut butter and raspberry jelly imperial stout and a wee heavy, maybe with time to get a Belgian Tripel ready!”
Looking into the new year, Handyman are looking to increase their presence in some other venues and shops beyond those they have already supplied and beyond their own premises on Smithdown Road. This might mean an expansion of the brew kit, according to Kevin “It will also mean having to seek out some warehousing, but given the current tribulations of the market the time isn’t right just yet. Hopefully a few months will see an upturn in everyone’s fortunes and we can grow the brand and get some new and exciting relationships in place.” Gaz adds; “There may be more collaborations too, that third fermentor is key as we really want to get the beers out nationwide now.”
Follow Handyman, here: twitter.com/handymanbrewery
Love Lane Brewery has had an interesting, albeit pretty challenging year and also had a period without licences, following a bit of a re-structure in June. Catching up with Lead Technical Brewer, Matt Buist, he told us; "This somewhat prevented us brewing and selling business to business which was a bit of a nuisance to say the least. It really has been a test of our resilience but we have good people here who got us through it." The range at the moment is steady for Love and Matt adds; "We have fresh Love Lane Session IPA, Pale Ale, NEIPA, and Baltic Lager and Baltic Porter in tank, so we expect to have some packaged beers prior to Christmas and are trading readily now."
Matt Buist joined Love Lane as lead brewer during 2022 and is more than ably supported by Paul Burns. Love lane also have a new General Manager in place at their Bar and Kitchen at the front of the brewery, David Roche. Matt goes on; "We are looking forward to the first proper Christmas since 2019 after all the lockdowns and hamstrung trading! Next year we look forward to cranking up the pilot plant and getting our Brew Schools going again. We are feeling pretty good about the coming months."
2023 will be challenging for many of Love Lane's customers and Matt suggests that Love Lane would like to thank them; "We also want to thank our drinkers and attendees at the taproom for their support through what has been a difficult year. It just remains to say how pleased we are to be back and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all at Love Lane."
Follow Love Lane, here: twitter.com/lovelanebrewing
Neptune have had a very positive year in 2022 and felt it went as well as it could have even had they planned for anything more. Owner and Brewer, Les O'Grady says; "The new team members that have recently joined have all settled in really well and hit the ground running, contributing to the success the brewery has had over the last year or so. We have also established some new relationships with the likes of the Michelin starred Moor Hall in Aughton, Hawksmoor (due to open in Liverpool in November 2022) and Albert Schloss (who are opening a second venue in Liverpool following their success with Albert’s Schenke."
They feel that they have maintained and reinforced their commitments with existing customers too, with a really solid foundation laid down with the established core range of beers.
Currrently, the brewery is in transit from the site on the edge of Maghull to a new site, approximately two miles away which is going to allow the production to expand significantly and allow Neptune to brew some new styles of beer in the new year. Hopefully this will see them move into new territory with their range.
Coming up at Christmas, they have some new barrel aged stouts that will be going into cask, keg and into cans, so the winter warmers will be on hand for those who want them! Another thing to stay tuned for are four new beers which be aimed primarily at cask dispense.
A new and larger brewkit at the new site will allow for expansion of production in addition to the new styles they’ll look to explore in 2023, but there will also be a new taproom which is slated for an early 2023 launch which will also still be based in Maghull, this will hopefully stock even more of their beers with a bit more range on top.
Follow Neptune, here: twitter.com/neptunebrewery
Webshop, get your Neptune beers and merch: neptune-brewery.myshopify.com/
In the aftermath of successive lockdowns, a few pubs and other outlets failed to re-open and others are generally not as busy as expected, resulting in a slower trade for many brewers. Rock the Boat’s David Barker expands a bit further on this; “Selling any kind of dark beer is becoming harder and harder, since a lot of outlets that used to take the odd cask of dark mild are now generally only taking pale ales, similarly amber and brown ales are becoming slow sellers. As a brewer, it is key to know that you can sell a whole brew length and have the custom there before you commit, it has become noticeable how infrequent these styles are being demanded.”
Rock the Boat have brewed a special beer ready for the festive season, a rather delicious sounding Rum and Raisin Porter, though David is a little unsure that he’ll find a home for it all; “Part of the British Christmas experience and culture was the availability of Christmas Ales, be they sweet stouts or spiced ales but now everything seems geared towards Ice Queen or Snow King Pale ales at this time of year which gets a bit dull.”
Despite the apprehension, there is positive news on the horizon for Rock the Boat; “We’re hoping to expand to new premises at some point, we are also going to look at the roster of the beers we brew. Given how tough a marketplace it is for cask out there, there are a lot of pubs taking brewery conditioned, rather than actual cask conditioned (and therefore actual ‘Real Ale’) ales. The handpull is only really for effect, those beers might as well be sent in kegs; it does feel like we are rolling back to the 1980s with very little true real ale on the market. Maybe the soporific effect of too many Wetherspoons Vouchers has had its effect now?”
Follow Rock the Boat here: twitter.com/RockTheBoatAle
2022 has been a bit of an odd year for Top Rope according to brewer, Ben Jackson; “The spectre of further lockdowns and a great deal of uncertainty was hanging around at the start of the year. Thankfully these unwelcome scenarios didn’t come to pass and we were a bit surprised by the growing demand for our beers in casks. This included many bars and pubs being willing to take not only tried and tested styles, but some of the more experimental brews for cask dispense. Throw in the gentle decline in demand for small package and it shows that people have been looking to enjoy pubs and bars for their drinking experiences”.
At the moment, Top Rope is riding high following their sixth Birthday party at the brewery and the last of their celebratory events are tapering off in the final week of November. Ben felt they had some luck over this period, managing to effectively tick off some ‘bucket list’ items from the brewery’s standpoint; “We managed to take over two of Fierce Beers’ bars in two consecutive days, had Brew York come to the brewery to whip up a collaboration brew and finally boarding a plane for business reasons, to go over to brew a collaboration beer with Bullhouse Brewing in Belfast.” To finish the year off there will be two taproom openings in December on the 3rd and 10th, along with a range of beers going into mini-kegs, ready for Christmas parties.
In regard next year, Ben feels it’s a mixed bag ahead for Top Rope; “It’s a mixture of optimism, but tempered with some level of trepidation that we’re feeling at the moment, whilst lockdowns seem to be firmly in the rear view mirror, there are other challenges in the world which are having a pretty disruptive effect on our business as well as many other things”. When elaborating, Ben is pretty specific about what it means for the brewery and its output; “Price increases are coming as a direct effect of the disturbances, with malt prices, energy bills and other raw materials all spiralling upward in cost. Anyone who effectively runs a large electric kettle as part of their business operations for hours at a time is going to take a bit hit. Thrown into this mix, we have the uncertainty of what the UK government is planning to do with alcohol duty and also the lingering spectre that is the deposit return scheme”. Ben does finish a little more positively though, noting that the best part of the job in brewing is the community which will often come together to help find solutions to issues which affect them widely; “As a result of what’s going on, I think we’ll see some pretty creative solutions from brewers to face up to problems in 2023”.
Follow Top Rope, here: twitter.com/TopRopeBrewing
Webshop for Beers and gear, here: www.topropebrewing.com/shop
This has been the inaugural year of operations back at Cain’s Brewery, with the first five months spent building the kit on site, taking care of recruitment and prepping for hitting the ground running. Since June, Andy, Matt and Will have formed the bedrock of things happening at the brewery and have tried their best to bring back some classic recipes from the original Cain’s roster. No mean feat, when you consider how fondly many of the original beers brewed on the site were remembered by older drinkers. So far, there are seven different beers coming out of the brewery and distribution to outside the brewery owned venues has started to commence; the Bitter has even managed to gain a gold medal accreditation at the SIBA NW Awards this year.
The new Cain’s venue (along with the original brewery tap, Punch Tarmey’s and other venues) has gone from strength to strength according to Head Brewer, Andy Hayes; “we’re happy to be serving beer as fresh and ready as it can be from the brewery”.
“We’re about ready to launch a Cain’s Christmas Red Ale in time for the festive period, which will be brewed with a selection of traditional Christmas mulled-wine spices and after that, we will be looking to bring the Dark Mild back into production, along with some new recipes which we are pretty excited about.”
Cain’s will be sponsoring a bar at the Liverpool CAMRA Beer Festival between 16th and 18th February in 2023 and they also have some other partnerships lined up, including with National Museums Liverpool. Andy is enthused at the idea of what the new year holds for Cain’s; “We really can’t wait to start 2023 in the same manner which we are ending 2022, there’s a lot to get excited about!”.
Follow Cain's, here: twitter.com/cains_brewery
Brimstage seem to have another year of keeping things rolling for their brand; brewing the core range and quietly supplying much of the local area with solid cask beers. They have had a dabble with some new recipes, with the use of locally grown hops (in Callister Garden) in a green hop beer called Birken Hop. The profits from this beer were used in support of various local community organisations, in addition to raising funds for other local charities such as the very worthy Claire House through helping brew a beer which sold throughout the year. Like some other local breweries, Brimstage also picked up a gong at the North West SIBA Cask Beer Awards. Their Sandpiper ale picked up a silver medal in the Session Pale category.
Getting onto Christmas, Brimstage have been busy preparing things for gift packs, mixed cases, mini casks and polypins for a range of customers. They are now taking Christmas orders on Saturdays 10th and 17th between 10am and 3pm on both days at a drive-thru set up at the brewery. Beers will be available in cans, bottles, mini kegs/casks and even in the bag in a box for parties. They’ve been very busy getting all the beer racked. There will be much of the same going into 2023, they plan on keeping the ball rolling with the core range, supplying local pubs and being a bit more vocal on socials – so stay tuned to their channels for information as it comes out.
Follow Brimstage here: twitter.com/BrimstageBeer
Webshop for beers, here: www.brimstagebrewery.com/shop
2022 has been a good year for Azvex Brewing, after a fast and furious first few months trying to establish their sense of place in Liverpool and the marketplace in general, they’ve nailed down a lot of the recipes and processes at the brewery. The taproom opened in April, earlier on in 2022 and has proven very popular with a broad range of customers both locally and from further afield.
The year will close out with some very big releases according to brewer, Jack Walker, “Some big beers are due, not least the Birthday beer along with some others which include two other imperial stouts, a collaboration brew with Track Brewing and some other undisclosed goodies to come! In time for Christmas, Azvex will be putting together some bundles with other local independent businesses such as Table Chocolate and Neighbourhood Coffee which will make for some excellent stocking fillers – whilst also supporting some great local indie businesses.”
According to Jack, 2023 will hopefully see some big things happening for Azvex, with a bit more focus on developing their presence in Liverpool and across Merseyside with some local accounts as they feel there is more of an impact to be made in the home town. “There will be some more tap takeovers, meet the brewer events and we are looking to increase our presence at beer festivals along with carrying out some more collaborations with some exciting breweries. We can’t wait to get things going again and build on the promise of the last year”.
Follow Azvex here: twitter.com/azvexbrewing
Webshop for beers, right here: www.azvexbrewing.com/shop/
Big Bog have been quietly going about their business for the most part of the year, however, they’ve recently recruited Rich Midgley to their brewing team and he gave the Collective a bit of news about how things have been and where the brewery is aiming to be in twelve months time; “I joined Big Bog (and Strawberry Fields – Big Bog’s ‘Craft’ Brand) in August of this year, this followed on from the work I did in a total rebrand of Black Cat from the Craft Taproom and overseeing a number of collaborative beers that we have brewed with various partners for Black Cat. Following on from that, I caught the bug for brewery life and had a sidestep to do it on a more permanent basis. I’ll still be involved in Black Cat, but I’ll be there a little less than previously. The team at Big Bog consists of myself and Chris Riley brewing the beers, Gordon running deliveries and developing the spirits range and Paul who owns the brewery and devises the various beers we brew.”
In October, Big Bog entered nine different beers into SIBA’s North West Cask Beer Competition. 140 different beers were entered into this competition from a host of talent rich breweries, with all the beers judged blind by panels of experts. Big Bog took home eight awards from their entries, signalling a pretty tidy return for their efforts. This included three gold medals and an overall champion cask beer. Rich offers “The Peat Bog, Stog, Kaleidoscope and many others will be present at SIBA BeerX (taking place in March next year) and Big Bog will have a presence at the CAMRA Liverpool Beer Festival which takes place at the Crypt in February 2023”.
With regards plans for Christmas, Big Bog have already released Frosty Bog to pubs and bars, with Strawberry Fields’ Here Comes the Snow following on in the next few weeks. Rich informed us that Big Bog have now started to bottle some more beers for small package release; “These will still be true to what we do, in bottle conditioned traditional style ales. We do have a special porter which is currently resting in a bourbon barrel though we’re not sure if this will be ready and racked in time for a Christmas release.”
The following year, Big Bog are planning to keep things relatively simple, in keeping production of their beer range rolling, bright as a button and just using traditional ingredients with no artificial flavours or additives. Rich finishes with “Maybe we might look at another collaboration to Black Cat, who knows… anyone fancy a Black Cat Best?”
Follow Big Bog, right here: twitter.com/Big_Bog_Brewing
Webshop, for beers right here: www.bigbog.co.uk/shop