An independent Barnsley brewery is stepping up production, developing products and looking to sell its beer overseas.
Acorn Brewery produces around 30,000 pints of real ale every week and aims to sell more, through a strategy for growth in 2014.
The company’s ambitious plans are being supported by the Enterprising Barnsley business support programme, delivered by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council.
In a two-way strategy, Acorn Brewery has invested in new brewing equipment to boost production and meet growing demand for its hand-pulled cask ale which it already sells to hundreds of pubs across the UK.
And, it has made plans to double production of bottled beer over the next 12 months and introduce a new product to its range, keg beer. The brewery aims to sell more bottled beer across the UK and has started exploring opportunities to start selling it abroad too.
David Broadhead outside Acorn Brewery
Brewery manager David Broadhead said: “Our award-winning cask ales account for 90 per cent of our production and will always be our core business with sales still growing year-on-year.
“However we recognise the need to broaden our customer base in order to expand and boosting sales of bottled beer and developing a new product in keg beer are key objectives for 2014. Moving into overseas markets to sell more of our high-quality bottled beer is the obvious next step.”
The Acorn team have recently returned from a trade trip to Rome, where they promoted their craft beer to Italian buyers. And, the company sent a selection of bottled beers to the Great British Beer Festival in Tokyo.
Acorn Brewery delivers cask ale direct to over 400 pubs and bars in the north and midlands, and supplies to countless others across the UK from Cornwall to the Shetlands via wholesalers.
The brewery supplies bottled beers to pubs, bars and more than 50 retail outlets across the UK including delis, farm shops and supermarkets such as Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda.
Acorn will start producing keg beers to sell in pubs for the first time this year. Kegged beer produces a drink different in character to cask ale. It is slightly carbonated and served chilled. Demand for keg beers is growing rapidly in the UK and Europe.
David said: “Our motto is ‘tradition and innovation’ and we are proud of our reputation for brewing traditional hand-pulled cask ale and look forward to building on that with a new range of keg beers and increased production of bottled beers.”
In 2013 Acorn invested over £50,000 in new equipment at its Wombwell brewery on Aldham industrial estate which has enabled them to increase production by 20 per cent.
The new kit includes state-of-the-art equipment to wash and sterilise empty casks much quicker, so that they can be re-filled with fresh real ale ready to go back behind the bars of UK pubs in half the time; and new larger brewing vessels to increase brewing capacity, which will now facilitate the increase in bottled beer production. There is also new equipment to produce keg beer.
Acorn Brewery was set up in 2003 by experienced brewer David Hughes, his wife Judi and one employee, brewer Steve Bunting, who still works with them. It now has a turnover of £1.2 million and employs 12 people.
Business coaches from Enterprising Barnsley have supported the company to develop its business strategy, improve online marketing and launch a new website.
David said: “Enterprising Barnsley has really helped us to step back, anticipate market changes and consider future opportunities to achieve growth.
“Working on a business strategy with them has helped us to plan ahead, diversify and strengthen our business prospects rather than just keep our heads down keeping busy with today’s orders.”
Enterprising Barnsley business development manager Shaun Higginbottom said: “Acorn Brewery has put Barnsley on the national map as a real ale brewery with a tremendous reputation. It’s great to see them planning for expansion through developing new products and exploring export to get them on the international map.”
Acorn Brewery uses carefully-preserved, original strains of yeast which have been used to brew ‘Barnsley Bitter’, since the 19th century. Their full range of classic ales has won more than 50 regional and national awards with Barnsley Bitter reaching the finals at CAMRA’s Great British Beer Festival for the past three years.
Acorn Brewery also opened the Old No 7 in Barnsley town centre in 2011 and the pub showcases the brewery’s own beers amongst other worldwide brands. The Old No 7 was voted CAMRA Yorkshire pub of the year for 2013.
Enterprising Barnsley is supported financially by the European Union and has attracted £2,259,511 investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development, through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.