Pumphouse Community Brewery Limited
Happy February everyone! We made it through what seemed to be the longest month ever but don’t worry, we have something to brighten your spirits. So, here it is! Another spotlight of the month featuring Alan Collard, the Chair of Pumphouse Community Brewery Limited located in Toppesfield which is a small village in north Essex.
Who are Pumphouse Community Brewery Limited?
Pumphouse Community Brewery Limited are quite unique in the fact that they were established in 2015 as a community benefit society, under the Cooperative and Community Society Act. This basically means that they are a not-for-private-profit business, in which it is owned by more than 80 shareholders. Alan told us that “any surpluses generated must be either re-invested in the business or distributed to groups and organisations in our community, such as youth clubs, the local cricket team and pre-schools, or to charities operating in our area”.
“To raise the funding for our venture, we sold £21,000 of community shares and received grants totalling £17,000 from Braintree District Council, a Sainsbury Family Charitable Trust and Essex Community Foundation”. That’s amazing!
Back in 2015, Pumphouse Community Brewery was the first such brewery in the country! Alan believes that there are now around 3 throughout the entire United Kingdom. Pumphouse produce a range of traditional style ales in both cask and bottles in their 2BBL run brewery, in which Alan tell us that even though it is small, it is perfectly formed!
Meet the Team
The Pumphouse brewing team is quite small as well!
“We employ Aaron Osbourn, a 22-year old brewer who has been with us for nearly 2 years now, but we also have a team of about 15 volunteers who will undertake tasks like barrel washing, bottling, labelling and basic maintenance. We have currently have 7 people in the management committee too”.
Pumphouse breweries biggest customer currently is the adjacent Green Man, which is also a community owned asset which was bought back in 2012. Other than this, Pumphouse sell to several pubs and clubs in the local area, as well as supplying to private functions and to beer festivals from time-to-time.
“Our bottled beers are sold direct from the brewery, as well as a small number of nearby shops”, Alan informs us.
And what makes Pumphouse stand out from the rest is their USP? Alan says, “we are community run and we are not seeking to maximise profits. Our underlying objectives, apart from beer production, are quite different from other microbrewers”.
If you are fancying trying out Pumphouse then you will need to make a trip to Toppesfield, but we will tell you now, it is worth it! In the meantime, check out the full list of beers on their website!
Why did Pumphouse Brewery begin?
Once the community had purchased the pub, the committee felt that it would one day make sense to build a brewery to complement it.
Alan recalls that they were planning to wait a while before building a brewery, however, plans changed…
“Rather sooner than we had planned, we had a fantastic opportunity to purchase a complete and nearly new brewery kit from a nearby village where a brewery was closing”.
This opportunity arose for the community back in the summer of 2014. The community had established the legal entity and raised all the funding by the following March, producing Pumphouse’s first few beers by October 2015.
But that wasn’t the only reason for the start-up for the brewery.
“Oh, and we also like beer…A lot”, Alan jokes with us, but he isn’t wrong – turn your hobby and passions into a reality!
Where does inspiration come from for Pumphouse?
Alan tells us that as a community, Toppesfield has always been a place where people get on and do things. “I guess inspiration is gained from breathing in the air in the village! But we also saw the brewery as a key to the long-term success of the Green Man through the provision of good quality and good value ales”.
Pumphouse breweries hopes that people will be inspired by drinking their delicious beers, but if not inspired, then as least happy!
What are the plans for the future of Pumphouse Brewery?
When Pumphouse Community Brewery started out, their original objectives were:
- To produce good quality and good value beer;
- To create employment;
- To provide new volunteering opportunities, especially for the retired;
- To work closely with our neighbouring community-owned pub and community-owned shop to make the village attractive both to prospective residents and to visitors;
- To generate over time surpluses that can be ploughed back into the village.
Even though these objectives for Pumphouse will continue to grow over the upcoming years, the community have planned an approach to achieve them which they hope will see an increase in production and sales.
Alan told us that they do not have ambitions to grow away from the village roots but feel that they should be able to double production over the next 5 years with their existing kit. Thereafter, they will have to wait and see what is planned for the brewery.
“I supposedly retired from work in 2004, so in 10 years’ time, I hope to have stepped down from my committee role and act as a quality control consultant for our beers in the Green Man”. It seems that Alan and the community have got it all figured out!
We asked Alan if you could drink any beer in any country, what beer would you choose and where would you go?
“I would drink ‘Zambezi’ beer on the terrace of the Victoria Falls Hotel, whilst watching the sunset and listening to the falls thunder just 400 yards away – perfect!”
Do you have any advice for new start-up breweries?
Alan tells us that for any business, you need to think through your plans and projections carefully and realistically.
And for any group seeking to start a community benefit society – brewery, pub or shop – Alan advises speaking to the Plunkett Foundation.
“The Plunkett Foundation is a charitable organisation set up to advise and support community businesses”.
Why do you think other businesses should choose Brewcover?
For any businesses in the drink industry wondering why you need Brewcover for your insurance cover, listen to what Alan has to say!
“The easier question of the lot:
- Good quality cover;
- Very competitive premium;
- Knowledgeable, friendly and helpful staff”.
Such kind words from Alan about us and he isn’t wrong!
Until next time…
That’s it folks, the end of our February Spotlight of the Month with the wonderful Pumphouse Community Brewery Ltd. It has been lovely talking to Alan Collard about the community and finding out more about the establishment of the brewery since it started. Keep up-to-date with all news and updates from Pumphouse Community by following their Facebook page!
We hope that all aspiring and new brewers feel inspired to start up your own brewery after hearing Alan’s story, and perhaps even start up a community to support your local area!
If you are in the brewing industry, or you own a distillery or cider house, then get in touch with Brewcover today. You can visit our insurance pages for more information or you can get a competitive and indicative quote today!
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Until next time folks, cheers!