Published on April 4, 2018 | by Alastair Gilmour


Making all the right moves

The father-and-son Box Social Brewing team’s diary is so full they need two phones to keep all their events safe. That’s what it seems anyway as Ross Holland and his dad Steve consult their devices and compare notes.

They’ve got a lot on their plates, the biggest of which is an imminent move into brand-new premises which should soak up expansion over the next few years.

“Mind you, that’s what we said about our existing place,” says Steve. “It’s done it’s job though. We’ve got all the approvals and expect to move in and be in production in a couple of months.”

Box Social has secured a unit on the Riverdale Industrial Estate in Newburn, not far from their current premises to the west of Newcastle. At least three staff will be taken on, including a brewing apprentice from a new scheme at Derwentside College.

“It’s huge and ideal and we’ll be able to put beer directly into 440ml cans which we can’t do at the moment,” says Ross. “The new kit is on order from a company in Aberdeen – 15-barrel capacity which should allow us to do everything we want with plenty of room for growth.

“We’re actually doing a tap takeover at SixºNorth in Aberdeen soon, so we’ll be able to call in and say hello to our new brewery.”

The brewery tap, The Box Social in Newcastle, recently made it to the final three of the SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers) City Centre Craft Beers competition along with North Bar in Leeds and Wigan Central, two extremely good, award-winning pubs.

“We’re pretty pleased with that for such a small pub only a year old,” says Ross. “As for the brewery, keg beer has gone mad this month and we’re sending it all over the place. Pubs are just seeing it online and just going for it. The brewery is at full capacity and everything else is pretty much full-on.”

Export business is very much in the Box Social crosshairs. Denmark is high on the list with an enquiry for a gulping amount of beer. China is on the horizon too following a successful trade mission to Shanghai last October. Sweden is another export target and they’re meeting all the right people.

Steve says: “I was in Singapore recently and met a couple of guys who said they were interested in UK craft beer as a lot of their beer comes from Australia and New Zealand. It’s a bit similar to China. The logistics might be a bit difficult but the people we met seem to know what they’re doing.”

The interest in Shanghai was for Kaffir Lime Leaf Session IPA (4.3% abv) and Campfire Porter which is a mighty 7.0% abv. In Sweden, it’s Campfire Porter while the Danish market is about hazy, murky, US-style IPAs.

Ross says: “We’re also delighted to have been invited to take part in the Great Exhibition of the North brewing collaboration with such names as Magic Rock, Northern Monk and Thornbridge. We’re really proud to be part of it.”

Ross is again consulting his phone for confirmation of times, dates and venues.

He says: “Before that we’ve got another two tap takeovers in Newcastle in May and two in London with collaborations on the go as well, plus Liverpool Craft Beer Expo at the Invisible Wind Factory on Albert Dock at the end of July.”

Invisible is what Box Social is not.

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Alastair Gilmour

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