Im sure we don’t need to remind everyone what happened in 2020 but the quick version is - man ate bat, man got sick, world closed down.
Up until March, we had been a brewery solely supplying our beer in casks to pubs and bars across Kent and beyond. This was due to various reasons, the main one being our production scales only yielded enough beer to keep our pub trade supplied, with no surplus (or funds) to venture into the bottled world.
At the start of 2020 we had invested heavily in a whole new brewing system, quadrupling our potential output (limited to just over double at the time by fermenter capacity and empty casks) so the thought of losing our only source of income wasn’t too exciting.
On the 23rd March 2020 everything changes, with pubs closing overnight.
We had anticipated this over the week prior and luckily Daryl, HF founder and brewer, is a dab hand with the tools and welder, so overnight he constructed a hand bottling setup and we began the painstaking process of bottling hundreds of beers...including applying manually the labels. (hence the wonky ones!)
We joined forces with our friends at Romney Marsh Brewery and together with our media chap, Martyn, we built the ThirstAid website over the course of a few evenings in preparation to start selling online to the local area.
Things started slow but it wasn’t long before we were bottling around the clock to meet demand, sharing the delivery routes with RMB throughout the week, travelling as far into Sussex as Rye and up towards Deal in Kent.
These orders and the support from the local area saved us from going under, allowing us to continue paying the rent, keep all of our team in work and continue to get our beers into the hands of our supporters.
As things appeared to be returning to some form of normality (i.e Septemberish) and pubs started to order beer back in casks again, we paused on bottling in an effort to get the trade back on its feet where we could.
As the situation worsened once more we knew bottles was once again the answer, this time, having lost many evenings and weekends at the hands of the bottling machine, we out sourced our bottling to ‘Craft Beer Bottling’ up the country, known for their attention to detail and quality of bottle based antics. This meant we finally had some decent stock to offer, freeing up our time to brew more beer and fill our minikegs to offer.
We’re still just about keeping our heads above water and doing our best to manage stock levels and deliver our beers on time - its been a real learning curve but so far every single person involved and all of our customers have been supportive which we are incredibly grateful for.
2021 is beginning in much the same way 2020 ended, but people and businesses are adapting the best they can.