Breweries across Yorkshire ramp up production as return of pubs approaches

Breweries across Yorkshire are ramping up production as they gear up for the long-awaited return of pubs.

News this week that pubs should begin reopening in early July has been well-received by thirsty Brits, who have been deprived since March 20 due to the coronavirus crisis.

It is thought pubs, restaurants and cafes would initially be permitted to serve customers in outdoor spaces such as gardens or terraces.

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Now breweries, most of which have seen sales plummet in recent months, are bracing for the upcoming rush by preparing thousands upon thousands of gallons of beer.


Nick Helliwell, co-owner of Saltaire Brewery in West Yorks., said he "cannot wait" for pubs to reopen as he has huge stocks of booze ready to go.

The 43-year-old said: "This crisis has been difficult for everyone but we're now looking forward to things gradually returning to normal.

"Our brewers are ready and raring to go with casks of beer as soon as the pubs are ready to take deliveries again.

"Our people are working away as we speak."

The government has not formally set a date yet for the reopening of pubs and restaurants; however, a spokesman this week said they were aiming for an easing from July.

Number 10 has downplayed reports of the date being brought forward to this month.

Mr Helliwell said he expects landlords to start placing orders at the end of June and that his brewery is already preparing for things to ramp up.

In April and May Saltaire Brewery, which has furloughed around 10% of its 40 staff, produced 3,000 fewer gallons of beer compared to that period in 2019, amounting to a 30% decrease.

Mr Helliwell said: "We have had almost no cask or keg sales at all, that side of the business more or less disappeared overnight."

He added that cask sales, which go to pubs, amounted for 40% of trade pre-lockdown.

Despite that side of the business floundering Saltaire Brewery has managed to maintain business by massively increasing home deliveries of bottled beer.

Mr Helliwell said: "We have actually struggled to keep up with demand on that side of things."

Saltaire Brewery workers are all wearing PPE and keeping two metres apart. Mr Helliwell added officials have written up a safety plan in response to the crisis.

Other breweries around the country are also gearing up for a relative return to normality over the next few weeks.

Megan Hocking from St Austell brewery in Cornwall said: "We're working towards opening on July 4, which is what the road map initially suggested.

"We are brewing and barrelling beer again this week in preparation for reopening, so were feeling positive."

Ms Hocking added that until government confirm a date she and her colleagues are "speculating and waiting".

Ministers have been working with a taskforce to determine the best approach to reopening and the Cabinet is expected to discuss the matter this week.

Critics have hit out at the plans to reopen in a matter of weeks, arguing a date in early July is too soon due to the risk of a resurgence on coronavirus cases.

Greg Maskalick, 60, has run the Draycott Brewing Company and Tap House based near his home in Ockbrook, Derbyshire for the past three years.

The married father of two, originally from Pittsburgh, USA, has lived in the UK for 23 years and is also the chairman of the Derby branch of CAMRA.

He is concerned about how much beer will be consumed even after restrictions are eased, due to various measures that will still remain in place.

Mr Maskalick said: "It's very peculiar because if pubs have large garden areas, they can open up. But, what if it's raining?

“In order to get a brew started, and then on to a pump in a pub, you're looking at a two week lag time.

"What we've decided to do was to brew enough to sell to other pubs in case they open but if they don't open, we'll just really bottle the stuff and wait and see.

“The government's backtracked on primary school kids going to school. So, are they going to backtrack on the hospitality industry? Who knows.

“I think there will be a new normal and I think it won't be until about this time next year that we'd be back to what was the old normal."

More news about the phased reopening of pubs and restaurants is expected to come from Number 10 in the coming days.

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