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Published on October 29th, 2013 | by Alastair Gilmour

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Jarrow Brewery’s new plant opens

A huge sigh of relief was disguised by loud applause when Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn officially opened his hometown’s new operation.

It meant Jarrow Brewery owners Jess and Alison McConnell could relax for a moment following a year in which plans to take over St Andrew’s Church in Hebburn as a centre for brewing failed, leaving the business with a £48,000 bill.

Not ones to accept defeat, the couple – who started the business in 2002 – set about moving to a new home on Jarrow’s Bede Industrial Estate and a spanking-new 40-barrel (1,440 gallons) brew plant with a national distribution deal from Carlsberg UK putting the froth on the project.

“We’re now well up and running and getting all the Jarrow range back up,” says Jess. “We were brewing Rivet Catcher at The Maltings just to keep up with demand. The brewery itself has settled in nicely and production is going well.

“We’ve taken on three new staff initially and will be taking on more before Christmas. Our daughter Janine has also joined us after a long spell in the Army where she’s been in logistics. Her skills will certainly be useful.”

As well as The Maltings in South Shields where it continues to brew specials, the company owns the Magnesia Bank in North Shields, the Isis in Sunderland, and Jarrow’s Robin Hood Inn, leased to experienced operator Norman Scott.

The majority of the new brewery’s funding – £140,000 – came from the Regional Growth Fund, while Leeds-based Reward Capital invested £80,000. Jess McConnell said the money was vital for the brewery to expand and create local jobs.

“Our beers have an excellent reputation and a loyal band of followers so we’re in an excellent position to extend our brand and increase our turnover,” says Jess.

He also says that Jarrow Brewery, which has also received private investment to finance is expansion, is looking to a share issue to raise further funds. In July the firm launched a scheme to raise £750,000 in exchange for 30% of
the business.

Jess says: “This new facility makes Jarrow Brewery the largest independent brewer on Tyneside by size of plant and in advance sales. It’s been a long job, but we’re finally there.”

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