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Published on July 11, 2017 | by Alastair Gilmour

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Brewery lifts off after a Paws

The latest brewery in the North East to fire up isn’t actually a new business. But Black Paw in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, has lately been producing beer for bottle only, so there’s a big trade gap to fill – and entrepreneur Paul Hughes knows just what to do.

Paul has been studying for an MA in entrepreneurship, a course unique in Europe, where students create a business and work towards setting it up. His “live” project was in creating a series of micropubs. Before that, however, he’d had 15 years in the licensed trade, building up an estate of pubs around Warwickshire and Oxfordshire.

The university course allowed him the time to get out and meet people in the pub and brewing business to learn from them, pick their brains, and generally progress towards creating a good, strong action plan.

“Then Phil Whitfield at Black Paw Brewery in Bishop Auckland got in touch,” says Paul. “He asked me if I wanted to buy the 10-barrel brewery as he was relocating to the South East. I was interested; it’s a starting point.

“Black Paw hadn’t been producing beer in cask for the last 18 months, only in bottle, so there’s a bit of work to do there and we’re very keen to get back into pubs. I’ve got Andrew Ferriman from George Samuel Brewing in Spennymoor as head brewer and also a Brewlab graduate coming on board.”

Paul intends to retain the Black Paw name and brands to get up and running but a full rebranding is in the business plan and new beers on the cards.

“That way we’ll hit the ground running,” he says.

At the moment Paul has been doing stints behind the bar at various Fitzgerald houses around the region – The Bridge Hotel in Newcastle and the Ridley Arms at Stannington in Northumberland – so he is well aware of what a good pint should look and taste like.

He says: “There’s a lot of growth for Black Paw and we’re all about championing North East beers.”


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Alastair Gilmour



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