Looking ahead: Ewen Gordon interview...
Saltaire Brewery managing director Ewen Gordon celebrates ten years with the company in April.
Ahead of his anniversary, we sat down with him to discuss what we might see in the industry, and from the Brewery, over the course of the next year or so.
Ewen on the last 12 months
It’s been interesting in terms of the management side of things. it’s been hard at times, but fortunately we have a strong team that’s been working on our business governance for a while now, and that’s helped.
So, the last 12 months have challenged us, but also opened our eyes a little too. For a start, we’ve had to do things much quicker than previously.
Before, we would have put more structure and time into developing long-term plans, but when the pandemic hit, it meant we needed to be nimble and react almost as quick.
Ewen on the next 12 months for Saltaire Brewery
From Saltaire in the next 12 months, you’ll see a step-up in development on the beer side of things.
We have recently recruited Rob Cooke from BrewDog as the lead development brewer for the business, and that’s a huge positive.
The whole idea when we rebranded three years ago was to position ourselves, not just in craft beer or traditional beer, but both! And, I think we’ve delivered on that.
Now it’s about focusing on different styles and formats, and doing things a little quicker, but at the same time maintaining that high quality.
We like to challenge our brewers, and we’ve added three new tanks recently to help.
Last January we launched our first low alcohol beer, Northern Light, and this week we’ll release our first beer brewed in those new tanks, our first-ever lager, a continental style Helles. And, we’ll continue to look at other opportunities while delivering everything we’ve always done.
Ewen on the industry in general
There may well be casualties in the industry because of the pandemic, but also opportunity, and I think our customers recognise that.
The government roadmap is the best guide and we will adapt again if necessary, and provide beer in as many ways as possible alongside those guidelines.
We predict that around 40% of our “usual” hospitality customers will open for sales conversations in April, and we hope to start seeing things speed up in May.
There will be opportunities in the market because the consumer will still want good quality products they can trust.
I think the hospitality market in general will respond, because ultimately, people have missed it. Going back out and sitting in a beer garden feels like a real treat.
Ewen on the public demand for beer
Perhaps many people who thought they wouldn’t miss it, actually have, and they’ll want to return to pubs, to beer gardens and to outdoor dining areas.
I think there might well be a lot of “treating ourselves” before it starts to calm down again, but at the same time, there will still be a percentage of people who will not go out as much as before.
This will lead to much more socialising at home, because we shouldn’t forget that there will be venues that won’t have the same capacity.
There might be some different things that help people as well. Venues, “reclaiming the streets” and applications to the council for outside spaces.
What we do know is that the hospitality industry is good at creating an experience, and hopefully we can all recover a bit quicker. The idea of pre-booking, not moving from your table, and getting a drink brought to you - well, people might enjoy it and want it to continue.
You can gear up for the end of lockdown or before, by heading over to our site and placing an order today. What are you waiting for?