Published on July 5, 2018 | by Alastair Gilmour


The next big drive

We’re barely into summer and Danny McColl has just made the understatement of the year. The owner of the eponymous McColl’s Brewery in County Durham has said: “We simply don’t sit still.”

Danny McColl is one of brewing’s most enthusiastic, positive and tenacious characters. You certainly know when he’s in the room.

He’s talking about tomorrow in one breath then five years ahead in the next. But running a modern brewery needs that push; it needs energy and total commitment and it needs a Danny McColl or two.

“We’re continuing to move forward and always scrutinising our products to reflect where the market is,” he says. “It’s a continual improvement process  and we’re always upfront and consistent.

“Right now we’re improving our branding, completely rebuilding our website, and planning beer launches as well as having opened our taproom to the public.

“The response has been absolutely fantastic. People are genuinely amazed at seeing how and where beer is made. It was so good on our first tap opening day we had to bool people out at the finish. “And those who hadn’t drunk beer before – only lager – were blown away by what they tasted.”

The local community is very important to McColl’s Brewery. Caps Off at Bishop Auckland Station takes a lot of beer while other great customers are the Three Horseshoes at Running Waters in Durham and the Ship Inn at Middlestone Village. Danny admits that the McColl’s team can’t afford to be complacent and they need to get onto the bars and shelves of outlets in Newcastle in particular and Tyneside in general.

“That’s our next priority, our next big drive,” says Danny, “but it’ll not happen easily.”

Danny, his wife Gemma and office manager Andrew Burnip are equally enthusiastic and they have been joined in a sales role by Justin Cooper who knows the business inside out, having done his fair share of shifts behind the bar. Ale drinkers might remember Justin from the Queen Victoria in Gosforth, Newcastle, a few years back.

“He knows what’s inside my head,” says Danny. “It’s no good waiting for something to happen; we need to move up another step, doing the right things at the right time.

“I’m excited for what’s going to happen over the next 18 months. We’re not kidding ourselves we’ll be massive in 18 months time but I’m very confident we’ll be doing well.”

Danny McCall is super-keen to be part of a collective of North East brewers who can take their beers outwith the region together and make the rest of the country much more aware of what we do here.

He says: “We have to admit we’re behind the rest of the country in that. We need to emulate North Yorkshire – that would be a step in the right direction. Join the dots on the map and fill in the rest of the country.

“Our Blood Orange IPA is doing wonderful things and we’ve done a Double IPA in collaboration with Coppers in Gosforth which is due to be launched there on July 20. “We’re also heavily involved with a beer festival at Raby Castle which is part of a long-term project between us. They’re very much on board with our ideas; they’re in exactly the same position as us – sitting on something with a massive heritage but knowing it’s essential to improve the footfall. It’s all really exciting, a bit mental.

“Raby Castle is a small business like us; there’s a huge market to go at, it’s an asset to the area but it needs a five or ten-year plan, maybe 20.

“We’ve still got our original ethos and beliefs which have built up a core following, but now we’re running with it and really enjoying it.”

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Alastair Gilmour

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