Published on May 3, 2018 | by Alastair Gilmour0
Anarchy in the UK, Russia, Brazil, Norway
In years to come, staff at Anarchy Brew Co will sit down and say: “Where did 2018 go?”.
The Morpeth, Northumberland-based brewery has taken the massive decision to move to bigger premises. Its facility at Whitehouse Farm Centre is bursting at the seams with no space left to expand capacity.
The Anarchy team has also started supplying a bar in Moscow – called Anarchy – and has brewed a beer in collaboration with a Russian brewery, with a return “leg” scheduled for later this year. An invitation to take a stand at the Bergen Beer Festival in Norway was taken up earlier this month; flights have been booked for a collaboration with a Brazilian brewery – and that’s before we’re brought up to date with a trip to Vietnam by owners Simon and Dawn Miles. Whoosh, it’ll soon be 2019.
“I’ve been thinking about bigger premises for a while,” says Simon Miles. “We’re at absolute capacity here now, brewing close to 5,000 hectolitres. We can’t physically make any more beer, so do we stand still and do what we do now or bite the bullet and take over larger premises?”
Height restrictions at the Whitehouse Farm Centre unit have necessitated using a system of two, 10-barrel equipment which takes up a lot of floor space. It’s a cat-swinging conundrum.
“We particularly wanted to stay in our home town, Morpeth,” says Simon, “so we settled on the former Northumberland Council grit store, a huge building on Coopies Lane. It’s 11,000 square feet floor space and has lots of height so we can use conical fermenters which means there’s not so much movement of beer from tank to tank. We’ve ordered a brand-new, 20-barrel brew kit – we’re yet to decide on gas or steam to power the boilers – and will take our existing two sets of 10-barrel kit, so in effect we’ll have a 40-barrel brew length.”
A new canning machine is on its way and racking is being planned to store casks for wood-ageing beer, meaning the extra floor space and height will be put to good use. A taproom and events space are also in the plan, as is a south-facing beer garden.
Simon says: “We’re looking at the end of August to get the 20-barrel kit working, but there’s a long way to go with new drainage and a new roof to think about. It’s the perfect location, only ten minutes’ walk from Morpeth Station and five from the town centre, so people can come from all over for a drink and for regular events. It’s all about access. The taproom will serve keg beer only and some that will be available exclusively there. We want our valued customers around Morpeth to continue to enjoy our cask beer, such as Blonde Star, and have the choice. We think that’s very important.
“It’ll be great to start with a blank canvas rather than bolting everything on as we have been doing.”
In Moscow, the Anarchy delegation met the owner of Squat ¾, an amazing 19th Century building situated near the Bolshoi Theatre which was originally a Turkish Baths and is now a nightclub.
“It was out of this world, ornate and beautiful,” says Simon. “A distributor had taken our beer there and the owner had a space where he wanted to put a bar – Anarchy.
“Our brewer Les Stoker did a collaboration beer with the female brewmaster at Gletcher Brewery about 70km outside of Moscow which has a great reputation in Russia for its quality. They had been emailing details for some time, looking at recipes and methods.
“Gletcher is about three times the size of ours, an amazing brewery, all computerised. The brewmaster sat with her computer mouse and clicked on various parts of a screen – mashing in was automatic, as was everything else right down to the hop dozing. It was really interesting for us to see the other side where there had been a lot of investment in technology; it was a great feeling to be part of. They’re going to sell it through their own outlets and we’re bringing them over here at some time to brew it and distribute it to our customers.
“As for the Bergen Beer Festival, we were told simply to ‘turn up in good spirits, sell your beer, and talk to customers’. They’re banging the drum for British beer and there are some great names there. And next February we’ve been asked to do a collaboration with Blend Bryggeri, a small brewery in Criciúma in the south of Brazil. The trip is sponsored by Brazil’s biggest malt supplier.
“Blend Bryggeri is owned by a journalist who came to Anarchy a couple of years ago with a small film crew and spent about a day here. I think they also went to Wylam and Hawkshead breweries. He’s obviously thought about doing some brewing himself.”
Then there’s Vietnam…