Getting to know BREW: Arundel Brewery
Updated: Jul 29, 2020
Small independent breweries have had it tough of late and the Coronavirus pandemic has hit their businesses hard. The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) reported that during the pandemic many breweries have seen their sales fall by as much as 82%. So what does this mean for smaller breweries and can they manage to weather the storm with so many pubs currently closed?
One thing that has become clear is that the world feels so much smaller and many of us have had to rely on our local community to get by. With that being the case, smaller independent shops have seen their custom increase, pulling their business away from further financial hardship. This has also been true of many independent breweries, and they have needed the support, especially with the demand from pubs and social clubs reducing to almost nothing. But thanks to online ordering, many have been able to tough it out and it has been reported that online sales have grown on average 55% across some independent breweries.
One such brewery that has seen increased online growth is Arundel Brewery based in West Sussex, which so happens to be my local.
Arundel Brewery started off as a small cask focussed brewery in 1992 and pretty much remained that way until Stuart and his wife Samantha purchased the brewery in 2014. In an attempt to modernise the business, the trio rebranded the beers, Sussex IPA, Gold and Castle and began brewing more modern craft beers such as the highly rated NEIPA Uptown and the Maple, Chocolate & Coffee Stout.
In addition to the main brewery based in Ford, Arundel teamed up with Edgcumbes Coffee and developed The Brewhouse Project - a bar and cafe nestled just off the A27 near Arundel - with the intention to brew beer and roast coffee on site, focussing on maximum freshness and flavour.
I caught up with Stuart to ask him how things are going at Arundel and what difficulties they've had during the pandemic.
Q. What do you think is unique about your beer?
For our modern beer range I think the key technical difference is that we use live yeast and we dry hop with the yeast still in the FV (fermentation vessel) to get something called bio-transformation which achieves higher level of hop aroma and flavour. We also ‘can' straight out of the FV rather than transferring to bright tanks which again limits the loss of any aromas during transfers. This means that it takes longer to make our beer but we think the quality difference is noticeable.
Q. Are there any beer styles you are looking at tackling in the future?
We are inspired by the Hudson Valley brewery in the US. We want to continue to work on our Berliner Weisse series to add more complexity of flavour.
Q. How important do you think collaborations are with other breweries?
We ideally want to collaborate with breweries where there is some learning to be had for both breweries rather than just brewing another IPA. In addition working with breweries further afield than Sussex would be a priority over the next 21 months to further spread the word of what we are trying to do at Arundel. I would particularly like to do some interesting collaborations for our Brewfest event in January next year.
Q. What efforts do you make to be environmentally friendly when brewing?
This is an area which I think every brewery is looking at the moment, the challenge is to find cost effective solutions.
Q. What have been your biggest challenges? (Pre Covid-19 and during the outbreak?)
Pre-Covid: I think it has been getting people to realise that the brewery has changed, it was always seen as a bit of a ‘twiggy' brewery previously but I think we have one of our fastest growing brewery scores on Untappd in the UK so people seem to be noticing!
Post-Covid: I would hope we can keep our webshop sales at the same high level and hopefully people will feel confident enough to come out again to bars & pubs on a regular basis.
Q. What has been your favourite beer you have produced?
The breakthrough beer for us was Uptown our 6.2% NEIPA which I still think fresh off the canning line is tough to beat.
Q. Have you produced a beer that didn’t turn out how you wanted it to - either better or worse?
Interestingly our most recent Raspberry Berliner Weisse didn’t come out as I expected, our first Blueberry version was delicious but super thick which made it less sessionable, whereas the Raspberry version came out much lighter and more sessional and refreshing as a result.
Q. Do you feel that non-alcoholic beers have an important part to play in the craft beer industry?
I’m sure they will but to be honest I am yet to find one that doesn’t have drawbacks, I would prefer to just drink less than compromise on flavour but I’m sure there is a market for it.
Q. What’s next for Arundel Brewery?
Keep on pushing the envelope to produce even more delicious drinks and to start preparing for Brewfest 2021!
Arundel Brewery offer nationwide delivery for all orders made on their webshop and FREE LOCAL DELIVERY (within 10 miles of Arundel) on orders over £30. Use code ‘WFHBEERS' at checkout.
Put in an order and let them know what you think about their beers by writing a review on Untappd or sending them a message on social media. Keep an eye out for news about Brewfest on www.arundelbrewery.co.uk, brewdidthat.com and @Brewdidthat on instagram.