Macho image of brewing industry needs to change says Great Newsome Brewery

The brewing industry still needs to change its 'macho' image in order to attract more female brewers into the sector, according to a growing East Yorkshire brewery.

Left to right - Ruby the dog, Director Matthew Hodgson, Leanne Little. Picture by Kevin Ladden

Great Newsome Brewery, based in Holderness, just recently appointed Leanne Little as a trainee brewer.

Director Matthew Hodgson wants more women to consider a career in the industry but the sector still has age-old stereotypes it needs to shake off.

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He said: “Some women are put off because there’s maybe a macho element to brewing. Historically, it’s been very much a male dominated environment.”

Mr Hodgson added that while in the past, due to a lack of stringent health and safety standards, the work required a lot of physicality, that is not the case anymore.

Talking about women already forging a reputation for themselves as brewers will help attract more females into the industry, Mr Hodgson says.

“It’s about getting the message out that there are careers, brewing is one of them, that women should be encouraged to join,” he added.

The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has been promoting career paths for women in the industry, Mr Hodgson said.

Women can add to the richness of the industry with their skill sets, according to the Great Newsome Brewery director.

Mr Hodgson said: “They’ve got a huge amount of skills and creativity that can really help this industry and shake off some of those age-old stereotypes.”

Great Newsome Brewery has been going for 11 years and employs around 10 staff. It has four women working across the business but Ms Little works on the brewery floor.

Since joining the business as a trainee brewer just over six weeks ago, she has already started brewing singlehandedly.

“She has far exceeded my expectations and our head brewer has been very, very pleased with her,” Mr Hodgson said.

Despite this, Ms Little had no experience in brewing. In fact she was a sales adviser working in an office in her previous role.

Ms Little said: “I needed a change from my job as a sales adviser. Then I saw the job advert from Great Newsome which had more career opportunities. It also appealed because I like to be creative and hands on.”

Business is “very good” at the moment, says Mr Hodgson, with Great Newsome experiencing growth over the past decade.

He added: “We’ve got plans to grow in the next few years. We believe that, although there’s been a huge increase in breweries, our offering should prevent any downturn in growth.”

“We don’t think it’s just producing the beer that’s important. It’s the way we present ourselves and the way we treat our customers.”

Great Newsome Brewery has also seen success overseas with Italy a particular stand-out market for the business.

Mr Hodgson said: “We’re a very traditional brewery. We do produce very traditional products. We’re not ashamed of that. That’s part of the export work that we do, which we like to think sets us apart.

“For example when we go to Italy we’re selling some of our most traditional beers there because they claim they can’t find a product like that in there country.”

The business is concerned by Brexit related uncertainty and that a ‘no deal’ Brexit would be bad for both the UK and its European partners.

Diversifying family farm

Great Newsome Brewery was launched as a diversification for the family owned farm.

Matthew Hodgson said they looked at diversifying into brewing in the late 90s.

He said: “The late 90s were a difficult period for farming, especially arable farmers like ourselves, where we were reliant on commodity prices being good. We had a number of years where commodity prices were low and it left our business exposed.”

However, it wasn’t until 2006 that they decided to go ahead with the idea after seeing a rise in popularity for local food and drink.